The summer heat was in full force and the team facility was buzzing with fans and media members as the Washington Commanders finally kicked off their first practice of training camp.
There was plenty of optimism surrounding the team as players went through team drills. That’s to be expected, head coach Ron Rivera told the media, because everyone is excited to be back on the field and make their case to earn a roster spot.
He and the rest of the coaches can feel that energy, too, but this is the first of many days in their process of evaluating the roster and whittling it down to 53 players. The excitement and expectations are fun, but everything needs to be put into context, and the only thing that matters is what kind of performance the players put on the field.
— The highlight of the day was Carson Wentz’s connection with Terry McLaurin, which was on display during warmups and during team drills. Fans got a preview of what will be plenty of passes between the two during one session when McLaurin beat his defender and gave Wentz an easy target. McLaurin made the leaping grab before falling to the ground with the ball in his hands for a 20-yard gain.
— Rivera mentioned Tuesday that the defensive ends behind Chase Young will have to step up in his absence. There will likely be several players rotating at the other end spot, but for the first day, James Smith-Williams was in the starting lineup. Smith-Williams is perhaps the most accomplished candidate in the bunch, starting in six games and recording 2.5 sacks and 30 tackles.