Washington Commanders Boot Camp 3 to Watch: Tight Ends

Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz likes to throw from close range.

In the 2017 season oft-talked about by Wentz, tight end Zach Ertz was his main target, and even with his starting quarterback at the end of the season, he finished as the team leader for receptions and yards, and second in touchdowns.

That fact lends credence to the theory that while COs are going to get the most out of their new quarterback, tight ends will be big contributors in 2022.

Starting tight end Logan Thomas finished 2021 with just 196 receiving yards, but he also had three touchdowns and played just six games as he battled injuries throughout the year.

So, while we’ll all be looking to see how much Thomas can contribute in training camp and preseason, let’s turn our attention – for now – to three guys who participated in the early offseason programs. , with a lot to prove when camp meets in less than two weeks.

JOHN BATES

Drafted in the 4th round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Bates entered the NFL from Boise State and is expected to contribute primarily as a tackler after having just two college career touchdowns.

What he actually did was deliver 20 catches for 249 yards and a touchdown while starting eight games as a rookie due to post injuries.

Bates certainly looked better as a wide receiver than anyone expected, and as fourth-round picks go, this one was a slam dunk in his rookie season.

He looks set to pick up where he left off last season, and if Thomas can’t go full speed ahead to start the year, the connection Bates is making with Wentz during pre-season will be key for the team get off to a good start once the regular season arrives.

COLE TURNER (R)

Unlike Bates, the report on Nevada’s Cole Turner entering this year’s NFL Draft was more of a pass catcher than a blocker.

“He’s a tight end that catches passes and needs to hit the weights and add the functional strength needed to play through contact,” Turner’s NFL.com draft profile said. “He’s got talent, but he’s inconsistent finishing tough holds and needs to prove he can become a legitimate threat with every hold against NFL defenders and not just a height offset in the red zone.”

Ranked as a 7th round pick, or even an undrafted priority free agent, Washington obviously saw more in him, selecting him in the fifth round along with North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell.

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The former wide receiver was the team’s rookie camp standout player after making several tough catches that showcased his focus, hands and body control.

He looked strong again in OTA practices and later in the team’s mandatory minicamp.

One question he hasn’t answered yet is his contact ability, and that’s what we’ll be looking to assess when training camp begins.

ANTONIO GANDY-GOLDEN

Antonio Gandy-Golden’s move from wide receiver to tight end represents his last chance to earn a spot on the commanders roster and become a contributor to the team.

Over the course of two seasons, while appearing in 10 games, AGG has only one catch.

And while we’d immediately put him in the ‘receiving a tight end’ category with this move, he’ll also need to show some ability as a blocker, if he’s to get a claret-gold 11th game.

“It’s a little tough right now because we’re not in the pads, but we want to make sure he knows those (blocking) assignments,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said of from the passage of Gandy-Golden to the tight end. “We know his skills as a receiver. That’s the size we really like. To be a guy who can run and basically play the U or F position for us. We’re pretty happy with what he brings to the table at the moment, but it will depend on his ability to block.”

Rivera is absolutely right in that we haven’t really been able to gauge his ability to block from tight end position. Something that requires a lot more force and commitment than blocking like the catcher tends to do.

If he can prove himself there, his knowledge of the playbook and years of NFL experience give him an advantage over Turner who will obviously have to prove himself as a blocker and receiver to get reps this season. coming.

Of course, we also can’t forget the career path and development of Sammis Reyes, whom we have yet to see in training this year.

Everyone will also want to keep tabs on their progress, though we don’t know if they’ll be able to participate at the start of camp or not.

Lots of talent in the Commanders tight end group, albeit a bit untested and with a lot of questions to answer.

All of whom potentially have the ability to bond with Wentz early and become major contributors to the team’s success this season.

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