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What to Watch OTAs: Will Cole Holcomb Take Charge of Washington Defense?

Big linebacker questions need to be answered, along with others that could bring the team closer to their 2021 aspirations

Cole Holcomb has verbally communicated his desire to be the Mike linebacker for the Washington Commanders' defense, and on Tuesday he'll get his first chance to take charge of the unit in front of media at OTAs. 

Washington Commanders Helmet, 2022
Washington Commanders Helmets

Given how much of a focus defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio put on certain players missing this phase of the offseason program and how it impacted communication during the season, it's reasonable to expect the team will want to have that position secured moving forward from here. 

That's the first question we'll be searching for an answer to with Washington's defense on Tuesday at OTAs, but there are more. 


A linebacker-safety hybrid, the buffalo nickel has become a more popular position as teams have leaned into putting multiple receiving tight ends on the field at the same time. 

With Landon Collins no longer around to fill the role, who will it be? 

Kamren Curl is a possibility, but the team could also turn to a more athletic linebacker if they feel he'd do well. 


There's been little secret about Young being one of the more public disappointments on the team from last season. 

After winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2020, hopes were high last season, and the excitement around the unit as a whole was tied to those. 

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Washington had a very transformative offseason.

Young wasn't in town this time last year, but he is now. 

Coming off an ACL injury I don't expect to see much of him if anything, but the fact he's in Ashburn is a positive development alone. 


The Commanders have a whole lot of draft capital invested into their defensive front. 

2022 second-round pick Phidarian Mathis is just the latest, and the lowest drafted player among the Top 5 players we expect to see manning the trenches on Washington's defense. 

Many have speculated the Commanders defense could feature more five-man fronts because of Mathis' addition, and Tuesday is the first chance we get at seeing that potential in practice...or not.

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Phidarian Mathis

There's plenty to see as the Washington Commanders aim to raise their defensive ability up to the shelf they reached for in 2021 but fell short of. 

In addition to these four storylines, there are questions about whether or not Del Rio's defense will lean on more man coverage, and what last year's first-round NFL Draft pick Jamin Davis looks like in his second year as a professional linebacker. 

Commanders Country will be on hand for it all, and report back here with updates and observations following the first OTA session open to the media, on Tuesday.