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Another linebacker gone as another young Washington player calls it quits

SB Nation logo SB Nation 8/6/2022 Bill-in-Bangkok
© Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders

Near the start of training camp, Coach Rivera announced that former 2020 4th round draft pick, wide receiver-turned-tight end, Antonio Gandy-Golden, had decided to retire from the NFL and return to school. Fans seemed generally supportive of what was probably a difficult decision.

On Friday, Ron Rivera again announced to the assembled media that a young player had decided to “move on from football”. This time the player is an undrafted college free agent, Tre Walker, formerly of the University of Idaho.

In Walker’s case, Coach Rivera didn’t have much to say about the young man’s future plans, saying only that “it was something he’d been thinking about and there’s some things that he wanted to get back to. So, he decided it was time to move on”.

Positional questions

This is the second linebacker to be lost from the roster this week. Just two days ago, Ron Rivera announced that another UDFA linebacker, Drew White, had suffered a torn ACL, ending his rookie season before it really began.

Walker’s departure makes the thinnest position group on the Commanders roster even thinner, though, in truth, the departure of a long-shot free agent (even two, counting White’s injury) probably doesn’t change much aside from opening up a roster spot opportunity for someone else.

When White was injured, the coaches surprisingly decided to give his roster spot to a cornerback — a former NFL and USFL player, De’Vante Bausby, but with only 7 linebackers remaining on the roster, it seems likely that the team will look to reinforce the position. No commitment to do so came from Ron Rivera, however.

After making a comment in mid-June that the team had its eye on three veteran linebackers, Rivera has been steadily walking back his comments. He opened up camp by saying that the team would look at the players on the roster before making any decisions to add another linebacker, “We’re going to see what we got the first week before we make any decisions in terms of a veteran guy.’

Since that time, Rivera has been, if not evasive, at least coy about discussing the position group. Asked what Tre Walker’s decision to quit football would mean for the linebacker group, Rivera answered only that it would prompt the coaches to “look at it”.

Reporters took note that, at Friday’s practice, Jamin Davis had not been on the field with the first team defense for a couple of rotations. Coach Rivera explained:

That’s just kind of the way some of the defenses are set up. We have a couple defenses where we have certain elements of it where it’s what we consider our big group. Other elements we just have one linebacker on the start. So for the most part, the first guy in is gonna be [LB] Cole [Holcomb]. It’s just really the group.

The idea of defensive alignments with only one linebacker on the field may help explain the coaching staff’s apparent comfort with the seemingly limited depth at the LB position. I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of nickel and 3-safety packages, and it also signals that the coaching staff must be quite comfortable with David Mayo and whoever is right behind him on the depth chart.

Updated depth chart

The team has a special practice at FedEx Field scheduled today (Saturday), so I wouldn’t be shocked to see the team wait until Monday to fill the roster spot opened up by Walker’s unexpected retirement. In the meantime, the team has 90 active players under contract.

© Provided by SB Nation
© Provided by SB Nation

The numbers that appear beside some players’ names are 2022 cap hits per Over the Cap.

Please note that assigned positions and color coding are my own personal opinions. They do not necessarily represent the thinking of Washington’s coaches or front office, nor are they necessarily consistent with fan consensus. This chart represents my interpretation, and may not reflect the thoughts of other writers on Hogs Haven. Finally, when it comes to backup players, I don’t put much effort into making sure that they are on the right or left or behind the specific player that they backup. I mostly just try to fit everyone on the chart efficiently.
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