D'Andre Swift says he'll play vs. Commanders. Can Washington stop him?

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Swift says he'll play vs. Commanders. Can Washington stop him? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Fresh off a Week 1 victory over Jacksonville, the Washington Commanders head to Detroit this weekend with the chance to accomplish something the franchise hasn't done in over 10 years: begin the regular season 2-0.

But for Commanders to start the year with two consecutive wins for the first time since 2011, they'll need to slow down Lions running back D'Andre Swift, who's coming off a career-high 144 rushing yards in Detroit's 38-35 Week 1 loss to Philadelphia.

Swift, a second-round pick from Georgia in 2020, has shown the potential of being one of the NFL's best backs at times during his first two seasons. But his performance this past Sunday was on another level, an indication that the 2022 season might be his true breakout campaign.

Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio believes Swift is already among the game's elite.

“As talented a player is in the league at that position," Del Rio said Thursday.

According to Del Rio, part of what makes Swift such a special back is his wide array of skills. Swift proved in Week 1 that he can thrive as a runner in between the tackles, but also has the ability to bounce it outside for a big play. The defensive coordinator also praised his vision and patience to let plays develop in front of him.

"He's a very, very good runner," Del Rio said. "[He has] excellent contact balance, good speed [and] understands how to set up blocks. He can make people miss; he can run away from people. I have a lot of respect for him."

Swift was as productive and efficient as any running back in Week 1. His 144 rushing yards came on just 15 rushes, an average of 9.6 yards per carry. The running back also stood out as a pass-catcher, hauling in three passes for 31 more yards.

Swift's versatility is one of his biggest strengths. It's also a major reason why defenses have such a difficult time containing him.

"He's a dynamic player for us and he's the one guy that can take it anywhere," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said following Sunday's game. "He can take it to the house from anywhere on the field and I'm glad he's ours."

It's worth noting that Swift suffered an ankle injury during Detroit's loss against Philadelphia, an ailment that's prevented him from practicing both Wednesday and Thursday. The running back told ESPN's Eric Woodyard he will "most definitely" play versus the Commanders, though, so Washington must prepare for a full Swift workload.

Asked how best to contain Swift, Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne said he's just going to trust the game plan and his skill set.

"Really just playing the defense," Payne said. "Just be strong in your techniques and not get gapped-out. Everybody [has] got to be playing accordingly."

With Swift's tendency to bounce outside, Payne emphasized the importance of being "sound on the backside" with the hope of preventing a big run from breaking loose.

Washington's run defense was far from great in Week 1. Jacksonville's duo of James Robinson and Travis Etienne rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries (7.5 yards per carry). Del Rio's unit must improve in that facet if they hope to limit the impact of Detroit's tandem of Swift and Jamaal Williams.

While there were some things Del Rio was pleased with his unit against Jacksonville, he knows there's plenty for the group to clean up before arriving at Ford Field this Sunday in Detroit.

"We need to be cleaner, better and more efficient and continue to do some of the things we did real well," Del Rio said. "I thought we played with great intent. I think throughout the game, there was tremendous energy and effort, a strong will and I think that showed in the first game. We need to see it in Week 2.”