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OTAs Review: 5 Most Important Washington Commanders to Watch

As the Washington Commanders move deeper into OTAs, here is a look at five of the most intriguing players, along with their potential impact on the team in 2022.

Organized training activities (OTAs) are underway across the NFL landscape, and the Washington Commanders have taken the practice field in Ashburn, Va.

OTA
Cole Holcomb
Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera

With a potential holdout at wideout, attempting to maintain one of the deep set defenses in the conference and a new quarterback under center, the Commanders will have served their share of storylines heading into the next phase of the preparatory process for the 2022 season.

As the team moves deeper into OTAs, here is a look at five of the most intriguing Commanders at this point in the season.

5) Cole Holcomb

When Holcomb was mentioned as a potential candidate to be the team’s top option at MIKE linebacker, fans and media alike were squeamish, to say the least. 

However, the 25-year-old apparently has the confidence of head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio — in addition to the confidence he has in himself. 

Following Tuesday’s practice, Holcomb told reporters that he had, indeed, called the defense during 2021; indicating that he does have the in-game experience to take on such a leadership role. While it remains possible that Washington may still seek the services of a veteran linebacker, Rivera has been clear that any addition would be to complement and add insurance for Holcomb, not to replace him.

4) Antonio Gibson

In the wake of drafting Alabama running back Brian Robinson, Jr. in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, veteran rusher Antonio Gibson was provided with a bit of assistance heading into the upcoming season. 

The soon-to-be 24-year-old rushed for 1,037 yards last season, sixth most in the NFL. 

As the season progressed, the Memphis product showed greater patience, was more effective in setting up his blockers and showed better decision making when cutting up field or going wide. His 146-yard performance in the season finale against the New York Giants provided a great deal of anticipation for 2022. 

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His synergy with new quarterback Carson Wentz, as well as his working relationship what Robinson, will be among the Commanders’ most notable storylines.

3) Chase Young

Young was absent from Tuesday’s OTA opener while rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee, but Rivera alluded that he could be back soon. 

Limited to just nine games in 2021, Young will be eager to get back to his 2020 form, which earned him Rookie of the Year honors from both the Associated Press and the PFWA. In his absence, James Smith-Williams seems to be the obvious choice to take the majority of his snaps. However, Efe Obada, Casey Toohill, Shaka Toney and William Bradley-King could all compete for snaps in the coming days.

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Antonio Gibson

2) Terry McLaurin

Per multiple reports, McLaurin was not present for on-field OTA workouts on Tuesday, while his representation and the Commanders continue to work towards a long-term deal, as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. 

The 26-year-old has already more-than-proven his worth on the field; making the impact of his presence for his own personal development of minimal impact. However, McLaurin’s absence may provide additional opportunities for reserve wideout Dyami Brown, as well as rookie Jahan Dotson to showcase their talents Washington’s offensive coaching staff.

1) Carson Wentz

Though several storylines will continue to surround Washington’s OTAs, all eyes will still remain on the quarterback. 

For the third time in as many seasons, Wentz is set to begin the season with a different franchise. As a result, expectations are high for the 29-year-old to prove his NFL worth as a franchise quarterback. 

With McLaurin expected to continue to his hold out for at least the immediate future, Wentz will take advantage of his opportunities to connect with his new receiver targets such as Dotson, Brown, Curtis Samuel and Cam Sims.