What Armani Rogers has shown at tight end so far is 'frankly remarkable'

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What Rogers has shown at tight end so far is 'frankly remarkable' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

If he were still a quarterback, Armani Rogers very well might've stepped out of bounds to avoid the contact and ensure he could take the next snap and the next snap and the one after that, too. But Rogers' days as a signal-caller are done.

So, instead of bailing out toward the bench in Washington's second preseason game against Kansas City, Rogers — now a tight end — chose to meet the oncoming tacklers head-on, dropping his pad level and winning what was a serious collision.

In all, that Rogers catch and run spanned 15 yards — but the sequence represented far more to him than a simple first down with a physical finish.

"A statement," is how Rogers described it on Wednesday in a session with reporters. "I'm changing positions, I'm capable of being tough and just taking on the role."

Of the 53 men on the Commanders' roster, Rogers stands out as the most out-of-nowhere name.

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The ex-Ohio passer switched spots on offense mere weeks before February's East-West Shrine Bowl (one of college football's all-star games that NFL squads scouted ahead of the 2022 draft), "did a little training" and eventually joined the franchise as an undrafted signee.

Rogers, who's 6-foot-5 and a stout 225 pounds (and, if you check out his stats, once a proficient rusher at QB), proceeded to climb the depth chart in training camp, when Logan Thomas found himself on the Physically Unable to Perform list and others such as Cole Turner, John Bates and Curtis Hodges succumbed to various ailments.

Those absences meant tons of reps for Rogers, including a bounty of precious work with Carson Wentz's starting unit. The potential that he showed throughout practices and in the exhibition games was enough to push him through cutdown day.

Rogers sticking to the practice squad would've been a commendable achievement on its own. He ended up outdoing that, which has left a couple of powerful people in the club's front office rather awestruck.

"What he did is, quite frankly, remarkable," Eric Stokes, senior director of player personnel, said of Rogers. "I can't say that I've really ever really seen anyone move at this type of pace and that's why I'm so excited about where he's going."

"I can't say enough about this kid," General Manager Martin Mayhew said, speaking with a similar appreciation for Rogers. "We had some injuries in the tight end group. He had some injuries as well, but he was able to get out there every single day and go and compete every single day. So he's got a lot of mental toughness."

Rogers was honest when discussing the arduousness of transitioning from pass-thrower to pass-catcher-and-block-thrower, noting that "every single aspect" of it is a challenge. Yes, identifying coverage has come naturally since that was so pivotal for his old gig, but the rest is taxing.

"It's been a grind," Rogers said.

Fortunately, he had a mentor he could rely on in Thomas, who has completed the journey that Rogers is beginning.

Thomas was a quarterback at Virginia Tech and, briefly, as a pro. In 2016, though, he made the successful transition to tight end.

"I was able to talk to him," Rogers said, "about what to expect, how to pick up the position a little faster."

Stokes remembers the first time he came across Rogers; it was back when Rogers was under center at UNLV, the school he lined up for before transferring to Ohio. Stokes was struck by Rogers' stature — "He had this kind of Cam Newton look," he recalled — but figured Rogers would have to prove his worth elsewhere in order to advance to the NFL.

"It was too far away to really see what he could actually evolve into," Stokes said.

Three years later, Rogers is progressing in that evolution right in front of Stokes and Washington overall.

"Really speaks to his work ethic," Stokes said. "It speaks to his mind. Again, I'm almost speechless because he really has done a fantastic job in terms of where he is."

Like those defenders he encountered at Arrowhead Stadium in August, Rogers hasn't shied away from the task of learning tight end. In turn, the Commanders aren't shying away from giving him more room to grow.