The Washington Commanders wrapped up their second week of training camp Friday. After a quiet and easy — but very hot — first week, business picked up in Week 2 of camp.
Washington put on the pads for the first time Tuesday, and business picked up. The Commanders had their first mini-skirmish of camp early in the week when linebackers Khaleke Hudson and Cody Barton took exception to center Nick Gates. It didn’t last.
However, on Friday, multiple battles occurred. First, guard Sam Cosmi and defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis scuffled. Then, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste hit tight end Cole Turner, stood over him, and didn’t help him up, irking wide receiver Terry McLaurin. McLaurin, showing his outstanding leadership, got in St-Juste’s face for not helping Turner up.
Ultimately, cooler heads prevailed, and everyone summed it up as “typical training camp stuff.”
Part of the issue, too, was the offense’s frustration. The defense dominated much of camp last week, particularly when the pads were on.
So as we look back at last week’s standouts, there wasn’t a lot on offense. McLaurin always stands out. Did anyone else stand out?
Here are five players who stood out for various reasons in Week 2 of training camp.
Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste
The 6-foot-3 cornerback is entering his third NFL season in 2023. St-Juste had a breakout season in 2022, but he missed five of Washington’s final six games. This summer, St-Juste is picking right up where he left off. St-Juste looks confident in the slot or on the outside. He is shadowing Washington’s wide receivers with his long arms and physical style of play. If St-Juste can stay healthy, he could be in for a big season.
Cornerback Emmanuel Forbes
How exciting is the future at cornerback for the Commanders? Forbes, the No. 16 overall pick, has been matched up with McLaurin a lot this summer. Yes, McLaurin has won many of those battles, but Forbes has won some, too. While Forbes tweaked his groin on Friday, on the play before, he broke up a pass intended for McLaurin. Forbes should be fine, but the hope is that it doesn’t slow down the momentum he’s built over the last two weeks. Forbes will help the Commanders early this season. The reps in practice against McLaurin and Jahan Dotson are the best on-the-job training he can receive.
Linebacker Cody Barton
Since the Commanders put on the pads last week, one name keeps popping up: Linebacker Cody Barton. The free-agent signee enters his fifth NFL season in 2023 and looks right at home for the Commanders. Barton stood out last week. He has good size and speed, but his football instincts are terrific. He’s a physical player already drawing his new teammates’ praise. It’s early, but it looks like Washington may have nailed this FA signing. Rick “Doc” Walker watched practice last week and “loved” Barton.
Barton is currently dealing with a hip flexor, but it’s nothing serious.
Guard Sam Cosmi
It’s difficult to put an offensive lineman on this list. But Sam Cosmi, in his first full season at guard, had a good week. Sure, he lost some 1-on-1 battles, but he won some, too. Cosmi looked good in run drills, which is not a surprise. He also gave star defensive tackle Daron Payne some good reps, earning Payne’s praise. Cosmi said he has embraced the physicality of playing guard. Like St-Juste, it’s about health for Cosmi. He looks at home playing guard.
Guard Mason Brooks
This tweet from Ben Standig of The Athletic had many going back to before the draft looking for information on the undrafted free-agent guard from Ole Miss. Brooks was a standout at Western Kentucky before transferring to Ole Miss in 2022 in an effort to compete against better players. Washington signed him as a priority free agent, as he had other interest.
Yes, winning a couple of reps against anyone doesn’t mean you are standing out above others. However, when you’re a UDFA and people are talking about you in a positive manner, you’ve already won. Brooks is strong and versatile. The preseason games will determine whether he makes the initial 53-man roster or not. He’s now on everyone’s radar.