Commanders Rookie Report: Week One

September 13, 2022

Each week we’ll be breaking down the performances of every Commanders rookie from the 2022 class.

The Washington Commanders have a few up-and-coming rookies that are looking to make an impact in 2022 and beyond. Today we’ll take a look at how each of them did in Sunday’s 28-22 win against Jacksonville.

Week One Inactive Rookies

Injured Reserve: TE Curtis Hodges, DB Josh Drayden

RB Brian Robinson

Unfortunately for the havoc-wreaking Alabama product, his NFL regular season debut will not come until week five at the earliest due to the carjacking incident that occurred in late August.

Fortunately for the Alabama product, the injuries he sustained in the incident were deemed non-life-threatening as no major bones, arteries, or ligaments weren’t damaged.

He is currently on the physically unable to perform/Non-Football Injury (PUP/NFI) list, meaning he’ll miss the first four weeks, but allowing him to be closer to 100% for week five. Antonio Gibson will continue to be the workhorse for carries in the meantime.

TE Cole Turner

The 2022 fifth-round pick out of Nevada, TE Cole Turner, was unable to make his NFL debut as the coaching staff and medical team agreed that a few extra days would be beneficial for the rookie in his recovery process.

Hopefully, the rookie tight end will make his debut in Week 2 against the Lions.

QB Sam Howell

Sam Howell wowed the Commanders community with his arm strength and ability to make plays that not many fifth-round quarterbacks can make, whether it’s with his arms or with his legs.

Although the rookie quarterback was able to put in a strong performance this preseason, he’s currently listed as QB3 on the depth chart.

The Commanders only carried two quarterbacks on the active roster in Week 1, meaning Howell was inactive. We’ll have to wait to see Howell take his first snap.

OG Chris Paul

Not to be confused with the (much) smaller NBA point guard Chris Paul, NFL offensive guard “Big Chris Paul” was selected in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The rookie out of Tulsa is currently listed second on the depth chart at left guard behind Andrew Norwell. It would be a good thing to not see Paul in the lineup that often, as in most cases it would mean that our offensive line sustained an injury or two.

Barring any unforeseen injuries, Paul will most likely be inactive again in Week 2.

CB Tariq Castro-Fields

The undrafted rookie free agent out of Penn State currently has a couple of defensive backs ahead of him on the depth chart. The Commanders only dressed five active corners this past weekend. Castro-Fields will need to continue to build on his performance in practice in hopes of moving up the depth chart.

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Week One Active Rookies

CB Christian Holmes

Snap Count: 22 snaps on Special Teams (92%)

Christian Holmes was one of the team’s five active corners on Sunday. He alternated in for Kendall Fuller, William Jackson III, and Benjamin St. Juste throughout the game.

Holmes looks to continue to contribute primarily to special teams, he logged 22 snaps, accounting for 92% of the Special Teams snaps.

DT Phidarian Mathis

Snap Count: Three snaps on defense/4%, one snap on special teams/4%

The rookie defensive tackle out of Alabama was drafted to reinforce Washington’s strong suit on defense, the line. This happened after the team cut defensive tackle Matthew Ioannidis and let Tim Settle walk via free agency this past offseason.

Mathis was focused on learning from his fellow Crimson Tide defensive tackles, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, but unfortunately was injured on one of his only snaps Sunday. MRI tests revealed a meniscus tear, meaning his 2022 season is over.

Mathis showed flashes of his potential during camp as well as in preseason this year. He’ll look to push towards a strong recovery and make a comeback next year in his sophomore season.

S Percy Butler

One assisted tackle, One total tackle (Snap Count: Nine snaps on defense/13%, Eight snaps on special teams/33%)

From draft week until now, Butler has grown into one of Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera’s favorite prospects.

Rivera loves the fourth-round pick’s raw speed and athleticism, as well as his ability to see and cover the field. The head coach expects him to make an eventual impact on special teams, and in the infamous ‘Buffalo Nickel’ role as well.

“I think it’s been really good. Just when you ask a guy to play one specific position, that’s pretty cool. But now all of a sudden you’ve got him splitting his time between being a safety and being the Buffalo, which is really the nickel. You ask a lot, especially of a rookie but he seems to be handling it very well. So, I’m pretty optimistic about his opportunity to get on the football field and play well.”

-Ron Rivera when asked about Butler’s progression

With the injury to Kam Curl and the uncertainty of his return, the Commanders will look to Butler and Jeremy Reaves to alternate with current starters Bobby McCain and Darrick Forrest (who had a noticeable impact filling in for Sunday afternoon).

TE Armani Rogers

One target, One catch, 23 yards (Snap count: Four snaps on offense/5%, 16 snaps on special teams/67%)

Rogers enters the 2022 season having put together an amazing training camp and preseason to win a spot on the active roster. The undrafted rookie tight end was called on Sunday afternoon to replace rookie Cole Turner, and give Logan Thomas and John Bates some needed rest in-between snaps.

While he wasn’t on the field for too many snaps due to the playmakers around him, Rogers made the most of his limited role and showed his playmaking ability on a 23-yard catch and run. The 6’5, 225-pound tight end logged the eighth fastest speed for a ball carrier on Sunday.

WR Jahan Dotson

Five targets, three catches, 40 receiving yards, two touchdowns (snap count: 68 snaps on offense/ 88%)

Last but certainly not least, the first-round rookie receiver out of Penn State, Jahan Dotson. Dotson finished fourth on the team in targets with five but was able to make the most out of them. He had three receptions for 40 yards, with two of those going for touchdowns (including the game-winner).

Jahan made his presence felt Sunday, he was the only rookie wide receiver from the 2022 draft class to score a touchdown in his debut. As expected, Dotson is off and running, and making an early push for offensive rookie of the year.