The Washington Commanders played their offensive starters for the entire first half of Monday’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. However, defensively, Washington sat all but three projected starters: Linebackers Jamin Davis and Cody Barton and cornerback Emmanuel Forbes.
It made sense why the Commanders chose to give Forbes an extended look. They want the first-round pick to have as many game reps as possible heading into the season opener next month.
But why were Barton and Davis still on the field in the second quarter with other backups?
According to head coach Ron Rivera, it was to get the two familiar with playing with one another. That’s what Rivera said after Monday’s game, which makes plenty of sense, considering the linebacker position requires constant communication.
“I think the biggest thing for Cody…….is getting used to the style of play,” Rivera said. “We’re a little different from his time in Seattle, and yet we do some very similar things in terms of coverages. But some of our downhill techniques are some of the things that he’s got to get used to. The first game, you saw him, he was really good with it. The second game, I think he was kind of a little hesitant to really get downhill. One of the mistakes you got to be careful when you try to be right and fit it correctly, and that guy cuts back; now you put yourself in a bad spot.
Barton earned praise from Washington legend Doc Walker, a longtime analyst for the team, when he watched practices earlier this summer. Overall, Rivera is pleased with Barton’s progress.
“He’s done a nice job, I think, assimilating and trying to get a grasp of that. What was really good to watch was his play speed, his quickness to adjust and to make up for that little hesitation. I loved his communication, not just with Jamin but the whole unit. I think he’s really starting to get a good feel for the guys. It’s one of those things that, again, the more he plays, the more reps he gets, the better he’s going to be for us.”
Rivera is really pleased with Davis, the former first-round pick entering the third year of his career.
“Very pleased with Jamin,” Rivera said. “He’s playing faster. He’s more confident. You see his run, hit and tackle. He’s still really good at that. I thought the some of the coverage stuff; he did a nice job of putting himself in position. Really pleased with the progress.”
Considering Davis and Barton are expected to be Washington’s starting linebackers, and Barton is new, the preseason reps are important. Davis took a step forward last season after struggling as a rookie. Washington hopes he takes another step in 2023. If that happens, the Commanders have a chance to be even better on defense.
LIVE: Coach Rivera speaks to the media before Wednesday's practice https://t.co/FvVhdqNwwt
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