Can the Commanders count on Quan Martin?
This is not an indicator of how the game is going to go. But it is a very important indicator of how much the Washington Commanders believe in their young players.
The Commanders lost two safeties to injury this week. With starter Darrick Forrest and reserve Jeremy Reaves gone, a couple of younger players will have to step up.
Percy Butler has already been playing a fair number of minutes and he will be Forrest’s primary replacement. But Washington employs a lot of three-safety sets, and rookie Quan Martin is a better fit to take on the deep cover responsibilities that fell to the previous starter before his injury.
Terrell Burgess is a quality young veteran who has been promoted from the practice squad. If he's not active, it suggests that the Commanders' coaches are very happy with the way Martin is progressing.
Given the way Washington has been using its defensive backs this year, I expect Burgess will be active. But time will tell on that front.
If he is, then pay attention to whether Burgess is playing defensive snaps. If he is relegated to special teams, it doesn’t matter. But if he is showing up on defensive plays while Martin is on the bench, I would suggest that is a very bad sign.
It would fall into the same category as Emanuel Forbes being benched in favor of veteran Danny Johnson. And it would certainly cast a lot of doubt on the Commanders' two top draft picks in 2023 - players who were supposed to reinvigorate the secondary.
Those are just five storylines to look for this Sunday. If you want a sixth, here’s a little trick I have learned from decades of following the NFL. Pay attention to the final score. If Washington’s number is bigger, that’s a good thing.