The most surprising Commanders who could make the 53-man roster
By Jerry Trotta
The Washington Commanders‘ first round of roster cuts didn’t feature any glaring surprises, though it was unexpected that Sammis Reyes’ hamstring injury would land him on season-ending IR and Troy Apke would get released.
It just goes to show that roster cutdown season is unpredictable. Look no further than last offseason when 5-foot-8 undrafted running back Jaret Patterson took the preseason by storm and snuck onto Washington’s 53-man roster.
It’s unclear if there will be any surprise of that magnitude this time around, but most teams generally have one or two inclusions that stun fans.
Through two preseason games and three weeks of training camp, it’s starting to become clear which surprise players on the Commanders have the best shot at making the team. Let’s highlight some of those players, shall we?
These overlooked Commanders could make the 53-man roster
Steven Parker, S
Parker’s inclusion is pretty impressive given he was an in-camp signing and has only had a couple weeks to leave his mark on the coaching staff. The 26-year-old safety faces an uphill climb to make the final roster, as Washington’s safety room is shaping up to be pretty deep with Kam Curl and Bobby McCain locked in as the starters and Darrick Forrest and Percy Butler making strides in camp.
It’ll be tough for the Commanders to justify keeping five safeties, but Parker is your typical deep-lying defensive back, whereas Curl, Forrest and Butler all have the versatility to line up closer to the line of scrimmage in the box. Worth noting, too, that Parker can fill multiple roles, but he’s looked the part in coverage.
Parker has caught on quickly at camp his physicality stood out in the preseason opener last weekend, where he finished as the team’s highest-graded player with a 90.8 grade, according to Pro Football Focus. His experience (31 games as a pro) could come in handy behind McCain and Curl for Washington.
Yes, the Commanders running back room is stacked. Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson and JD McKissic form one of the deepest rotation’s in the NFL. And as we noted earlier, Patterson is no slouch and brings versatility on special teams.
However, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge Williams’ preseason. The 28-year-old is known for his bruising running style, but he’s impressed coaches with his increased speed this offseason and that showed in Week 1 against Carolina when he led the team with 31 rushing yards on just five carries.
Patterson might be the fan favorite and bring value on special teams, but Williams is the more accomplished runner. If Washington keeps four backs on the roster we wouldn’t bat an eyelash if Williams got the nod over Patterson.
McGowan faces the longest odds to make the team of these players simply because Washington is stacked at wide receiver. Having said that, the coaching staff hasn’t named the team’s lead return specialist and McGowan has been splitting reps with Alex Erickson and Antonio Gibson (?) for kickoff return duties.
Dax Milne and Jahan Dotson are in the mix for the punt return role, but McGowan has vast experience in the return game having averaged 23.2 yards on kick returns over four years at Northwestern. Only Alex Erickson has similar experience, so it could come down to who impresses the most as a receiver.
Whatever happens, don’t be surprised if McGowan defies the odds and sneaks onto Washington’s 53-man as its primary return specialist.