There will be a real football game at FedEx Field on Saturday as the Washington Commanders host the Carolina Panthers.
It will mark the debut of the new Commanders uniforms, along with the new fight song.
On the field, the game provides the first opportunity for players to impress coaches with what they’ve learned this offseason and early on in camp. There aren’t many starting jobs open on this team right now, but coaches are looking for depth at all positions. This is where guys can start to separate themselves in the coaches’ eyes.
So, what should we expect to see from the starters this Saturday?
“We’d like to see the first group somewhere between 15 and 20 plays,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “Then go from there with the seconds and thirds.”
Quarterback Carson Wentz will make his first start in a Washington uniform, and it sounds like he will get a decent amount of playing time. Every coach treats preseason differently, with most coaches keeping their starting quarterbacks sidelined throughout most of the preseason.
But, having a new quarterback in a new system, Rivera wants Carson to play.
“You want to see some consistency in the huddle,” Rivera said. “Breaking the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage and then being successful with the plays that are called. Hope we get all kinds of situational football going. You target somewhere from 15 to 20 plays, have a nice drive somewhere about eight or nine plays, stuff like that.”
Rivera said that all three quarterbacks will play Saturday. Taylor Heinicke, who started 16 games for Washington last year, will most likely get into the third quarter, then rookie Sam Howell will finish it up.
Howell, a fifth-round pick in April, has definitely shown flashes at camp, and Rivera would like to get him into certain situations.
“I would love to see Sam get a two-minute at the end of the game,” Rivera said. “It would be a real good experience for him as well. He still has a lot to learn. Just consistency is what you’re hoping. You’re hoping he has some success, hoping he controls things and is consistent with his ball placement when he throws it.”
As far as other starters on Saturday, Curtis Samuel will play according to the coach. Samuel has been in and out of practice early on in camp as he ramps up his conditioning.
Center Chase Roullier will not play as he continues to work himself back from starting camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He suffered a fractured left fibula last October.