The 2022 NFL season marks the start of a new era of football in the nation’s capital. No longer the team without a name, the Washington Commanders are hoping to begin this new age with a successful campaign after a lackluster 2021 season.
Washington made a big change under center as well, bringing in Carson Wentz to be the new leader on offense. With talent such as Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas around him, Wentz is hoping to return to his once elite form as an Eagle. The defense, led by a stout defensive line featuring Chase Young and Jonathan Allen, is also hoping to rebound after allowing almost 360 yards per game in 2021.
In order for Washington to make it back to the playoffs, more than just the stars need to show up. Let’s look at some hidden gems for the Commanders this season.
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Commanders Hidden Gems On 2022 Roster
Washington’s poor offensive line played a big part in the team’s struggles last season. The team allowed 43 sacks on the year, the 10th-highest in the league.
The Commanders have given their line an overhaul this offseason. Brandon Scherff departed in free agency and the team cut ties with Ereck Flowers. To replace their production, head coach Ron Rivera looked to a pair of familiar faces from his Carolina Panthers days.
Washington’s biggest splash was signing Andrew Norwell to start at left guard. Norwell started his career with Rivera’s Panthers for four seasons and earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2017. He then signed a five-year, $66.5 million contract with Jacksonville the following offseason, but has not made a Pro Bowl since.
Their second pickup flew under the radar, but could be just as impactful. Turner also began his career with the Panthers in 2014, much like Norwell. He then earned five straight Pro-Bowl selections from 2015 to 2019 as part of the club.
However, Turner has bounced around the league since then. He spent the 2020 season with the Chargers and the 2021 season with the Steelers, unable to find a long-term home. Still, he performed well enough for Washington to take a flier on him.
Turner is projected to be the backup right guard for the Commanders, but should still see playing time throughout the season. His teammates have already seen his ability in just his short time with the group:
“On the field, he’s [Turner] honed into his craft,” offensive tackle Sam Cosmi said in a press conference. “Every step, every punch he takes, he’s really locked in, and I love that.”
If Turner gets the playing time he deserves, he should reward the Commanders greatly.
The Commanders selected Brown in the third round of the 2021 draft hoping he could provide another layer to their passing attack. The wideout enjoyed a stellar college career at North Carolina, posting over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons and hauling in 21 touchdowns as a Tar Heel.
Unfortunately, Brown struggled to produce in his rookie season. Thanks to injury and a lack of playing time, he caught just 12 passes for 165 yards in 2021.
Coming into his second professional season, Brown is looking to take a step toward becoming the player he knows he can be. An offseason of watching film has allowed him to rethink how he approaches the game for the better:
“For me, it was just being able to understand how to use my speed,” Brown said in a press conference. “Then there was another thing about just being aggressive and being who I am. A lot of the times, I was being passive just because I was like, ‘I’m not sure if I should do it or not.’ So, having that understanding of ‘just go ahead and go get it.'”
If Brown can make that leap forward, he can be the deep threat that Washington has been desperately seeking.