The Washington Commanders were busy trimming their roster from 90 to 53 players over the last two days. Washington released 12 players on Monday and placed rookie offensive tackle Braeden Daniels on the reserve/injured list with a torn rotator cuff.
On Tuesday, Washington continued making moves and announced its initial 53-man roster before the 4:00 p.m. ET deadline. There weren’t many surprises for the Commanders, but some things did stand out.
Before we offer our thoughts on the first 53-man roster of the 2023 season, let’s stress again that it is the initial roster, and general manager Martin Mayhew called it “very fluid” right now.
Here are six takeaways from the Commanders’ initial 53-man roster.
Jake Fromm showed promise in the preseason in Eric Bieniemy’s offense. However, it wasn’t enough to make the 53-man roster. No one ever believed Fromm would make the roster, but there is now hope that Fromm could develop into a solid long-term backup for the franchise. He should clear waivers and head to the practice squad, and Washington would feel confident in him if he’s needed on the 53-man roster.
The Commanders are happy with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett.
They love their running backs
The Commanders love their running back room. In Brian Robinson Jr., Antonio Gibson and Chris Rodriguez Jr., they feel like they have three starting-caliber players. While there was some thought that Gibson would serve as a third-down back in 2023, it looks as if he could be the 1b to Robinson’s 1a. Rodriguez is a promising rookie bruiser.
Washington also likes Jonathan Williams and Derrick Gore, and either could end up on the practice squad as the team’s fourth back. Gore impressed during the short time he was here and has experience playing for Bieniemy.
Mitchell Tinsley forced their hand
The Commanders loved undrafted rookie WR Mitchell Tinsley from the moment they signed him after the NFL draft. Coaches have praised him, Terry McLaurin has praised him. His performance in the final preseason game likely won him a spot, but we’re guessing the coaches were planning on keeping him all along.
Tinsley gives them another young receiver who they can plug in next offseason when Curtis Samuel hits free agency. Tinsley does everything well, and there was a chance someone would claim him if Washington exposed him to waivers.
Kazmeir Allen still needs some work
Washington also loves the other undrafted rookie wide receiver, Kazmeir Allen. However, Allen’s inexperience as a receiver and punt returner showed. He played running back in college before moving to wideout in 2022. He was an electric kick returner but was new to returning punts. His muffed punt was cause for concern. Now, the Commanders can keep him on the practice squad where they can continue to develop him on offense and as a punt returner.
While some fans will complain about Dax Milne, the most important thing he does is catch punts. No, he isn’t electric, but he doesn’t create negative plays that can change games. That matters.
They love Curtis Hodges
If there was a surprise on the roster, it was Washington choosing Hodges as the fourth tight end. Not because he isn’t talented, he is. But Hodges struggled to separate from the rest of the tight ends battling for that final spot. Is Hodges’ inclusion on the roster telling us that the Commanders are concerned about Logan Thomas? Or is it all about Hodges’ potential? We are betting it’s a little bit of both.
Commanders released Tyler Larsen
The Commanders releasing the dependable veteran backup was a surprise. However, it sounds like Washington will be bringing Larsen back. The Commanders trust Larsen, and he does a good job when called upon and can also fill in at guard.
Four offensive tackles made the initial roster
Charles Leno Jr. and Andrew Wylie are the starters. Cornelius Lucas is the swing tackle. But there are some concerns about the offensive tackles, so the Commanders also kept veteran Trent Scott. Lucas and Scott give Washington two experienced backups if there is an injury. Don’t be surprised if the Commanders add a tackle if one becomes available they like. I like keeping four tackles, especially with some of the concerns surrounding Leno and Wylie.
Commanders keep 11 defensive linemen
Rookie seventh-round pick Andre Jones Jr. changed things for the Commanders. No one expected the twitchy edge rusher to stand out as much as he did this summer. Therefore, he and fifth-round pick K.J. Henry made the roster. Washington already had excellent depth at defensive end behind Montez Sweat and Chase Young, with Casey Toohill, James Smith-Williams and Efe Obada. Obada also gives Washington a nickel pass rusher who can slide inside. The picks of Jones and Henry were more about the future with Sweat, Young, Obada, Smith-Williams and Toohill all free agents in 2024.
At defensive tackle, no surprises with Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, John Ridgeway and Phidarian Mathis. Both units are outstanding, and the Commanders should be thrilled with their defensive line depth.