The Washington Commanders’ defense didn’t come ready to play on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ opening drive.
Luckily, the offense came out firing on all cylinders. Scott Turner pulled out all of the stops to help Carson Wentz settle in after a wonky first pass.
Between getting Curtis Samuel the ball in space, utilizing Antonio Gibson as a receiver and dialing up a perfectly-timed tight end screen to Armani Rogers, the Commanders’ opening offensive possession was a thing of beauty and fittingly culminated in the form of a three-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Samuel.
Unfortunately, the momentum was short-lived.
On the Jaguars’ ensuing possession, rookie Phidarian Mathis got his knee rolled up on from behind and went down in a heap. The Commanders’ second-round pick out of Alabama was carted off the field and could barely put any pressure on his knee.
Commanders rookie Phidarian Mathis carted off with apparent knee injury vs Jaguars
This just has all the makings of a potentially serious injury. Not only did Mathis’ Commanders teammates take a knee around the rookie as he was attended to by team trainers, but Mathis himself was emotional as he was being evaluated and even wiped some tears and punched the ground before he was carted off.
It’s the last thing the Commanders need. While the defense is swarming and generating consistent pressure on Trevor Lawrence since the first drive, Mathis’ injury is worrying for the long-term outlook of the defensive line.
The defensive tackle rotation is already thin following the departures off Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis and Mathis was expected to fill the third-string role behind Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Now, the Commanders will turn to preseason and camp standout Daniel Wise and former UDFA Tyler Clark.
We’ll have updates on Mathis as soon as they’re made available, but the manner in which the injury happened coupled with Mathis’ emotional reaction suggests it could be something serious. Crossing our fingers that isn’t the case.