The Washington Commanders host the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday in the final preseason game for both teams. The Bengals will not play any of their starters, while the Commanders will play only a select few starters.
Head coach Ron Rivera didn’t confirm which starters would play. Quarterback Sam Howell will not play and veteran Jacoby Brissett will get the start. Brissett will play around a quarter before departing, allowing Jake Fromm the opportunity to finish the game.
This game represents the final opportunity for those players on the roster bubble to impress coaches and either earn a spot on the 53-man roster, or the practice squad.
There aren’t a lot of openings on the 53-man roster. However, the bottom of the depth chart at some positions, such as wide receiver, defensive end and the offensive line remain unsettled.
We’ve identified six bubble players with something to prove Saturday. We didn’t include players like defensive Andre Jones Jr. because we believe he’s already made the roster.
QB Jake Fromm
It may not matter what Jake Fromm does in the preseason finale. It all depends on if Washington keeps three quarterbacks. The Commanders likely already know if they’ll keep three.
Fromm had a good performance in Monday’s win over the Ravens. Fromm would be an ideal No. 3 quarterback who could develop into a capable backup. Another strong preseason performance could go a long way in determining if the Commanders are afraid they’ll loose Fromm if they cut him. Ultimately, Fromm looks like an ideal candidate to land back on the practice squad.
Just when you count Jaret Patterson out, he delivers again. Entering his third NFL season, Patterson always seems to have an uphill battle to make the roster. He seems to always find his way back and when called upon, performs well. Patterson had an extremely impressive touchdown catch and run on Monday. Another strong performance could help him sneak his way onto the 53-man roster.
When the Commanders drafted Chris Rodriguez Jr., it put Patterson’s status in doubt. Much of his future depends on if the Commanders keep three or four running backs. If they keep four, he’s battling another reliable and popular veteran, Jonathan Williams, for that final spot.
Rookie undrafted free agent Kazmeir Allen has been a popular name among fans since the Commanders signed him after the draft. Allen’s college highlights, combined with his ability to return punts excites fans. Head coach Ron Rivera named Allen on multiple occasions when talking about players who impressed him. However, he doesn’t have a lot of experience at receiver. He flashed this summer, but the Commanders want to see more. I believe Allen is probably already on the roster due to his return ability.
Another undrafted free agent, Mitchell Tinsley belongs on an NFL roster. Tinsley has impressed coaches and teammates all summer. He had a tremendous catch in the preseason opener, but came up short a couple of times in the win over the Ravens. Tinsley is an excellent route runner with the versatility to play inside or outside. Could Washington sneak him to the practice squad? The Commanders should play Tinsley for the entirety of Saturday’s preseason finale. Veteran Byron Pringle seems safe as the No. 5 wide receiver. Could Tinsley make a push there? He needs to prove he can contribute on special teams.
Curtis Hodges is 6-foot-8, athletic with a huge catch radius. It didn’t help too much in last week’s win over the Ravens. Hodges had a pair of golden opportunities to impress and came up short on both attempts. Did that game seal his fate? Washington likes Hodges, but he doesn’t offer anything as a blocker. And if he’s on the roster for his receiving ability, he needs to be more consistent catching the football. With Washington’s depth concerns at tight end, Hodges needed a strong preseason to prove to coaches he belonged. He appears ticketed for the practice squad.
G Mason Brooks
Mason Brooks was a priority signing for the Commanders after the 2023 NFL draft. He’s had some flashes this summer, most notably his wins over defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis in drills. Brooks hasn’t had the opportunity to show a lot in the preseason. The problem for Brooks is Washington has better depth on the interior than it does outside at tackle. Brooks has been more impressive than fourth-round pick Braeden Daniels. The Commanders should start Brooks and let him play the entire game. The best way to evaluate a young player is live game reps. That’s what Brooks needs. Ultimately, Washington would love to sneak him to the practice squad.