Which players made the Washington Commanders initial 53-man roster? – The Washington Post

Which players made the Washington Commanders initial 53-man roster?  - The Washington Post


Although the Washington Commanders cut their roster to a starting 53 players on Tuesday – keeping 23 on defense and 27 on offense, including running back Brian Robinson Jr. — the team is expected to make more moves in the coming days.

“We’re not done,” coach Ron Rivera said several times during his news conference. “We have time.”

Because of recent league-wide changes, including the elimination of the fourth preseason game and the expansion of the practice squad, Washington does have more time and flexibility to reshape its roster before the Sept. 11 season opener against Jacksonville. The Commanders will work to address priorities at cornerback — they’ve kept just four, two fewer than in each of the past two years — and Robinson’s health.

If the team doctors determine that Robinson can return soon, he can remain on the active roster. If he needs more time, the team can place him on injured reserve, which would rule him out for at least the first four games. Rivera said that uncertainty contributed to the team keeping running back Jonathan Williams on the 53-man roster.

Brian Robinson Jr. of commanders “able to wrestle a gun away” in a robbery

Rivera said the decisions were difficult in part because this is his third year of building the roster and in part because the team loves its tight ends. Washington didn’t compromise in the trenches — it kept nine linemen on both sides of the ball — and sacrificed on defense to keep 15 skill players, up from 12 in 2020 and 14 last year.

Although the front office will monitor the waiver wire and free agency for players to add, Rivera cautioned that it’s more complex than just trying to bring in talent.

“If you’re going to replace a guy, that guy better be ready to plug and play,” he said, stressing that all additions should play the same style of offense or defense. “Sometimes, you might get excited about someone, and all of a sudden they’re not the right fit. You have to be careful and be smart about it, because you might leave some guy who suits you better.”

This thinking bodes well for Danny Johnson and Corn Elder, the fourth and fifth cornerbacks during camp, both of whom were cut Tuesday.

Although the roster is expected to change, it is noteworthy that the Commanders initially kept 27 offensive players, which reflects the front office’s investment on that side of the ball. It wasn’t just the team that allocated its most valuable resources there this offseason – quarterback Carson Wentzwide receiver John Dotson, Robinson – also prioritized prospects. Washington kept two undrafted rookie tight ends, Armani Rogers and Curtis Hodges, ahead of other veterans.

Several young players — Rogers, Hodges, cornerback Christian Holmes and linebacker Milo Eifler — worked their way onto the roster during camp. Rivera praised the effort and “strong finish” of defensive end Shaka Toney, who is expected to contribute on special teams. Dax Milne ousted Alex Erickson as the sixth wide receiver and punt returner. Depending on Robinson’s timeline, Rivera said, Milne, running back Antonio Gibson or others could return kicks.

In the past, Washington has tried running back Jaret Patterson on kickoffs. But the team kept Williams over Patterson, a Maryland native and fan favorite, because, Rivera said, “Jonathan has a very similar style to [Robinson]and that is what we are looking for now.”

In camp, Washington lost several members of its 2020 draft class. Fourth-round wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden retired, fifth-round linebacker Khaleke Hudson was cut, and fifth-round center Keith Ismael was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Of its eight picks that spring, Washington ended up with three starters when healthy (defensive end Chase Young, safety Kam Curl, Gibson) and two key reserves (offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles and defensive end James Smith-Williams).

One of the feel-good stories of this year’s camp was safety Jeremy Reaves. He went undrafted out of South Alabama in 2018, and for each of the past four years was cut on the final day of camp. In November, his mother died, and this year, he made the team out of camp for the first time.

Rivera said he told Reaves how proud he was of his progress.

“[He] showed us what he’s capable of,” added Rivera. “He’s a guy who’s earned his spot.”

During the portion of practice open to the media, every player on the 53-man roster participated in individual drills except Williams, who ran out of the team facility late; Hodges, who had a helmet but was working steps away from his teammates; A loop that treats a minor, unspecified injury, according to a person with knowledge of the situation; and defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis (leg) and wide receiver Cam Sims (concussion), who have been rehabbing on the sideline with trainers.

If Washington ends up transforming the team with the same offense-defense split it has now (27-23), it would be the most lopsided roster of Rivera’s three-year tenure. In 2020, the starting roster was even at 25; in 2021, it was 26-24 for the offense.

But what the team does next will depend on information it hopes to have soon: How long will it take for Robinson to return? And who will be available at cornerback and linebacker?

“Guys,” Rivera said at one point during Tuesday’s news conference, “we’re not done.”

After two losing seasons, Ron Rivera is optimistic that Washington can make the 3rd year

Goalkeeper (3): Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke, Sam Howell

Wide receiver (6): Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson, Cam Sims, Dyami Brown, Dax Milne

Kit (4): Charles Leno Jr., Sam Cosmi, Cornelius Lucas, Saahdi Charles

Guard (5): Andrew Norwell, Trai Turner, Wes Schweitzer, Chris Paul

Center (1): Chase Roullier

Tight end (5): Logan Thomas, John Bates, Cole Turner, Armani Rogers, Curtis Hodges

Recurring (3): Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson Jr., JD McKissic, Jonathan Williams

Defensive line (9): Montez Sweat, Casey Toohill, James Smith-Williams, Shaka Toney, Daron Payne, Phidarian Mathis, Jonathan Allen, Daniel Wise, Efe Obada

Linebacker (5): Cole Holcomb, Jamin Davis, David Mayo, Milo Eifler, De’Jon Harris

Cornerback (4): Kendall Fuller, William Jackson III, Benjamin St-Juste, Christian Holmes

Free security (3): Bobby McCain, Percy Butler, Jeremy Reaves

Strong security (2): Kam Curl, Darrick Forrest

Long snapper: Cameron Cheeseman

Willie Beavers, offensive lineman

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