5 position battles to watch at Commanders training camp in 2023

Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett
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Commanders starting LB

With third-year-pro Jamin Davis set for a breakout campaign after making a strong leap forward last season, the Washington Commanders appear to have at least one stud at linebacker.

After long-time middle linebacker Cole Holcomb left for the Pittsburgh Steelers this summer in free agency, the Commanders brought in Cody Barton to replace him. He enjoyed a career year with the Seattle Seahawks in 2022, becoming a full-time starter after spending his first three NFL seasons as mostly a special teamer and backup.

Playing in all 17 games with 11 starts, Barton compiled 136 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, two interceptions, two sacks, and two forced fumbles in his final season as a Seahawk.

Known for his speed and solid tackling, Barton signed with Washington on a one-year deal worth just $3.5 million. While most expect the free agent addition to slot in as a starter, another player may emerge from the shadows to secure the role.

My dark horse for the starting linebacker role? Khaleke Hudson.

Another prospect that worked his way up from a special teams standout to eventual starter, Hudson entered the starting lineup for Washington during the final week of the 2022 campaign and showed he was more than capable in an expanded role.

The former Michigan Wolverine recorded seven tackles in his lone start in Week 18 versus the Dallas Cowboys. Hudson has also taken advantage of the increased reps with the first unit this offseason with Davis missing time and Barton still learning Jack Del Rio’s defense.

Washington uses just two linebackers in the majority of their defensive alignments. Which linebacker performs best in the preseason will ultimately determine the snap distribution at the Commanders’ second level on defense.

With continued development from Davis and Hudson, as well as the rapid assimilation of Barton into the Commanders’ scheme, Washington’s linebacker unit could quickly transform from a perceived area of weakness to a position group brimming with young talent in 2023.