5 position battles to watch at Commanders training camp in 2023

Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett
Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders starting LG

Upgrading the offensive line was an obvious area of importance after a nightmare season for the Washington Commanders' pile-movers in 2022. Right guard Trai Turner was not brought back and center Chase Roullier retired after multiple injuries derailed his once-promising career.

Former second-round pick Sam Cosmi is transitioning to right guard after playing right tackle most of his first two seasons to middling results. Veterans Nick Gates and Andrew Wylie were brought in during free agency to solidify the center and right tackle spots respectively, while Charles Leno Jr. will remain the Commanders’ left tackle in 2023.

Rookies Ricky Stromberg, Braeden Daniels, and Mason Brooks will provide developmental depth for the future. After shuffling the deck up front, Washington’s biggest question mark remaining on the offensive line is the glaring hole at left guard.

Last season's starter, veteran Andrew Norwell, was arguably the weakest link on the Commanders protection unit. Per Pro Football Focus, Norwell received an embarrassing 59.8 overall grade after giving up four sacks and being flagged for five penalties in 2022.

The 2017 first-team All-Pro started 16 games for Washington last season. But is now clearly just a shell of his former self and is likely to be released once he can pass a physical.

Chris Paul started the final game of the 2022 season in place of Norwell – the only playing time of his rookie campaign. The late-round selection from Tulsa was surprisingly solid in his lone start of the year versus the Dallas Cowboys, playing 66 snaps at left guard and not giving up a sack while being called for just one penalty.

Paul held his own against a formidable Cowboys front seven, giving Washington hope that the Hall-of-Fame-named lineman has starting potential.

He is in for a heated battle with Saahdiq Charles for the starting role at training camp. The 2020 fourth-round pick enters the final year of his rookie contract looking to show he belongs in the NFL after being slowed by a number of injuries over his first three professional seasons.

The former LSU lineman has struggled mightily to stay on the field during his time in Washington, starting just eight games since his selection back in 2020. Charles will likely get every opportunity to prove his worth, but Paul has also impressed this offseason with his marked improvement and professionalism, signaling that last year's seventh-rounder won’t make the choice easy for the Commanders.

The competition should bring the best out of both young players. No matter the final configuration, Washington’s offensive line looks to have much more depth and talent than in years past.