An Early Look At The Commanders Roster Bubble

July 7, 2022

Commanders Training Camp

On July 27 the Washington Commanders will open training camp at their team headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. The overall goal of camp will be to grind as hard as they can while the staff sorts through the Commanders roster bubble.

Under current NFL rules, they’ll be allowed to start training camp with 90 players on the active roster. In 2022, the league will roll out yet another roster reduction schedule that includes a cutback from 90 to 85 on August 16; a cutback from 85 to 80 on August 23; and then on August 30 teams will need to have their final 53-man rosters submitted to the league’s office by 4:00 pm, EST.

Commanders Roster Bubble

The Commanders roster bubble is a living, breathing, life force that will come into play as training camp progresses through the preseason. As the roster has improved and also grown younger over the last few years, the roster bubble itself has expanded to include several skill positions. Looking at those skill positions really gives a good feel on how big the Commanders roster bubble truly is.

Eight names stand out above the rest of the 37 players that must be cut before August 30.

Receiver

As part of perhaps the most talented position group Washington currently has, Dax Milne is the first name on the roster bubble for this franchise. Milne has never been considered the most versatile or athletic player or even the best route-runner, but what really hurts him is his overall lack of speed.

The one thing that has progressively improved with the receiver spot in Washington is speed at the position and overall ability to create in space. Two things Milne has had issues with, not to mention he’s limited in only being a slot receiver. Dax could have greatly benefitted from staying in school another year to develop while seeing more field time.

Next on this list is a player who has spent the last few years on the roster bubble, receiver Kelvin Harmon. After a promising 2019 rookie season in which he pulled in 30 catches for 365 yards starting eight games, Harmon’s career hit a wall.

As a player who never even missed a practice in his life, it was hard for Harmon to deal with the devasting injury to his knee (ACL & LCL tear) in June of his second year. Fact is, he’s never returned to an NFL field for a regular-season game since. That hasn’t stopped his determination to get back to the field even though this could be his last shot.

Tight End

The tight end position should produce an interesting position battle this year at training camp. The group is currently comprised of seven players, NFL teams generally keep three or maybe four on the roster.

Among that group is Antonio Gandy-Golden, a former fourth-round pick who is attempting to switch from receiver over to the tight end spot. That position shift may be the best move for Gandy-Golden after only pulling in one catch in his two-year career. The major issue with that of course is the stiff competition he’ll face at the position.

Another guy with both of his feet clearly posted right in the middle of the roster bubble is tight end Sammis Reyes. Reyes is a former basketball player trying to make the transition to professional football. He’s extremely athletic and powerful, but he’s quite simply behind in terms of learning a position, which can take players decades to perfect while progressing through high school and college.

Sammis has yet to make his first reception but has shown signs of decent blocking skills in the small amount of field time he has seen. Most of the time he’s spent on the field up to this point has been on special teams.

Reyes has the distinction of being the first Chilean-born player in the NFL. His dream of becoming a starting NFL player may take a bit of a turn if he can’t make the next step this preseason.

The Rest

The final four guys that stand out on the roster bubble each have their work cut out for them over the next couple of months. Each of them finds themselves at or near the bottom of their respective roster battle at their position.

Jaret Patterson found himself at the right place at the right time last season when the team he grew up cheering decided to sign the undrafted running back. Patterson was childhood friends with Chase Young, who suggested signing him to Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera after he went undrafted.

Patterson was a powderkeg of energy in college and showed some promise last year in his rookie season. The problem is, Washington’s running back room is even deeper this year after they drafted Brian Robinson from Alabama. With seven backs on the current roster, Patterson has his work cut out for him.

When Washington drafted Saahdiq Charles in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft the hope was that he would have progressed to the point of being an every-week starter by now. Unfortunately, injuries and lack of progression have limited him to only five starts in two seasons.

While Charles is listed as a tackle, he’s also spent time at the guard position. Looking at a roster battle that consists of Charles Leno Jr, Sam Cosmi, and Cornelius Lucas at tackle; and another one with Trai Turner, Andrew Norwell, Wes Schweitzer, and rookie Chris Paul at guard, Charles is facing an uphill battle.

Fittingly enough, the last two guys on this roster bubble list are both defensive ends who were drafted in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Both Shaka Toney and Will Bradley-King find themselves stuck behind the thoroughbreds Washington has tapped for the present and future of the edge position in Chase Young and Montez Sweat.

The uphill battle that is attempting to get field time with two monsters on the edge already would be immense for anyone. Both Toney and Bradley-King were able to see the field in a limited capacity as rookies with Toney having the better year starting his first game and recording his first sack.

While the team will still have to decide on who the other 29 players to cut will be, these eight are sitting right at the top of the Commanders roster bubble trying to avoid the chopping block.

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