Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz throws a pass during NFL football practice at the Inova Sports Performance Center in Ashburn, Va., Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)



CAMPING: Ashburn, Virginia

LAST YEAR: New quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick injured his left hip in the season opener, pressing surprise playoff player Taylor Heinicke into a starting role for the first time in his career in the NFL. The defense that arrived with high expectations after finishing second in the league in 2020 struggled early and contributed to a 2-6 start. Despite losing passing thrower Chase Young to a torn ACL, Heinicke beat Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington rode a four-game winning streak to embark on the hunt for the playoffs. Injuries and virus misses wreaked havoc on the streak and contributed to four straight losses that dashed any playoff hopes.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: QB Carson Wentz, DE Efe Obada, OG Andrew Norwell, OG Trai Turner, rookie WR Jahan Dotson, rookie DL Phidarian Mathis, rookie QB Sam Howell

MAJOR LOSSES: RG Brandon Scherff, WR Adam Humphries, S Landon Collins, DT Tim Settle, DT Matt Ioannidis, LB Jon Bostic

CAMP NEEDS: Wentz finally has a chance to build chemistry with Terry McLaurin after Washington’s top receiver missed offseason practices while mired in contract negotiations. Camp will be all about what Wentz can do with offense that previous quarterbacks couldn’t. On the other side of the ball, Young’s return from his knee injury is worth watching with an eye on him being ready for Week 1.

KEY CAMP COMPETITIONS: Very few, in fact, in what could be considered an evolution of the roster heading into Coach Ron Rivera’s third season. More importantly, there isn’t even the illusion of QB competition because of Wentz, and most of the offense is settled pretty well. Who replaces Collins at the so-called buffalo nickel spot is up for debate, with 2021 first-round pick Jamin Davis trying to establish himself as the starting linebacker in the pros.

EXPECTATIONS: Rivera is not yet in the hot seat, but the organization expects the first season playoffs to be known as the Commanders after the previous two as the Washington Football Team . There’s a reason the club traded for Wentz and drafted a handful of players who are more polished than other prospects but may have lower caps. Winning a weak NFC East at 7-9 in 2020 may have raised the bar too high too soon for Washington. But now there’s a concerted effort amid fan apathy and declining attendance to at least earn a wildcard spot and start fighting again.



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