Oct 2, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Washington Commanders linebacker Cole Holcomb (55) in action during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Commanders AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders place LB Cole Holcomb (foot) on IR

The Washington Commanders placed linebacker Cole Holcomb on injured reserve Friday.

He has missed the last four games with a foot injury and will have to miss at least four more.

Holcomb, 26, won’t be eligible to return to the active roster until the Jan. 1 home game against Cleveland.

Holcomb recorded 69 tackles in seven starts before the injury. The 2019 fifth-round pick has 388 tackles, 4.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and three interceptions in 50 games (40 starts) with Washington.

The Commanders also activated linebacker Milo Eifler from injured reserve. He was placed on IR on Oct. 8 due to a hamstring injury.

Eifler, 24, appeared in the first four games of the season, logging one tackle and playing a total of 75 snaps (69 on special teams).

The Commanders (6-5) have won five of their last six games heading into Sunday’s tilt against the visiting Atlanta Falcons (5-6).

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (25) runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons, Commanders surprisingly battle for potential playoff position

While the Washington Commanders compete in the winningest division in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons play in the weakest division.

When the teams meet Sunday in Landover, Md., however, they enter in similar circumstances. While Washington (6-5) is a half game out of a wildcard slot in the NFC, Atlanta (5-6) is a half-game behind first-place Tampa Bay in the NFC South.

Both teams are anxious for success. Atlanta is coming off four straight losing seasons. Washington is on a run of five consecutive losing years.

“It’s a big game for both teams,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “When you get into the holiday season you want to be in games that matter.”

The Commanders are on a high having won five of their last six. Four of the wins have been with Taylor Heinicke at quarterback, though the real catalyst for the success has been Washington’s defense.

Linemen Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Montez Sweat — all first-round picks — are each producing at a Pro Bowl level, combining for 19 sacks.

And this week, the Commanders activated defensive end Chase Young, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft, from the physically unable to perform list.

Young, who missed 19 games after sustaining a torn ACL just over a year ago, isn’t certain to play on Sunday. Coach Ron Rivera said Young will be evaluated this week at practice to determine his availability.

“We have to slowly integrate him into it, get him more acclimated to it and when he’s ready to roll, give him an opportunity to gradually increase that number of plays,” Rivera said.

In a 23-10 win last Sunday, Washington dominated host Houston in the first half, getting an early pick-6 from Kendall Fuller and holding the Texans to 5 yards.

On Wednesday, the Commanders designated quarterback Carson Wentz for a return to practice, though he will not be activated this week. Wentz suffered a broken finger in a Week 6 win over Chicago and underwent surgery on Oct. 17.

The Falcons are coming off a 27-24 win at home over the Bears. Atlanta was down 17-7 in the second quarter before Cordarrelle Patterson sparked the rally with a 103-yard kickoff return touchdown.

Marcus Mariota ran for a touchdown and threw for another score as the Falcons won by a margin of four or fewer points for the fourth time this year.

The metrics don’t favor Atlanta. While its defense ranks 30th in the NFL, giving up 389.4 yards per game, the offense ranks No. 26, gaining an average of 313.8 yards.

The Falcons do well in the running game, as they rank No. 3, averaging 159.4 yards per game on the ground using a committee approach with Tyler Allgeier (498 yards, 4.5 per carry), Patterson (454 yards, 5.3 per carry) and Caleb Huntley (335 yards, 4.8 per carry).

The injury news was not good for Atlanta on Wednesday. Tight end Kyle Pitts and defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham, both with knee injuries, will need surgery and will miss at least four games each.

For Washington, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday and linebacker Cole Holcomb (foot), who has been out for a month, remained sidelined.

Wahington rallied at Atlanta in Week 4 last year as Heinicke threw two touchdown passes in the final four minutes of a 34-30 victory.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders’ Carson Wentz designated to return to practice

The Washington Commanders designated quarterback Carson Wentz to return to practice Wednesday.

It remains to be seen whether the veteran has the starting job, however.

Taylor Heinicke has guided Washington (6-5) to a 4-1 record since taking over for Wentz in Week 7.

Wentz, 29, landed on injured reserve on Oct. 22 after fracturing the ring finger on his right (throwing) hand during the Commanders’ Week 6 win at Chicago. The injury required surgery and he wasn’t cleared to throw until last week.

The Commanders now have a 21-day window to add Wentz to the active roster. Head coach Ron Rivera has said the plan is to prepare Wentz to back up Heinicke.

Wentz completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,489 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in six starts (2-4 record) this season.

Washington acquired Wentz in a March 9 trade with the Indianapolis Colts. The No. 2 overall pick in 2016, he owns a 46-44-1 record as a starter with 150 touchdown passes for the Philadelphia Eagles (2016-20), Colts and Commanders.

Heinicke, 29, has completed 60.8 percent of his throws for 1,031 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions in five starts heading into Sunday’s game against the visiting Atlanta Falcons (5-6).

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young (99) looks on after the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders activate DE Chase Young from PUP to 53-man roster

The Washington Commanders activated defensive end Chase Young from the physically unable to perform list on Monday.

The return of the former No. 2 overall draft pick has been in the works for some time. Young has not played in more than a year — since injuring his right knee (torn ACL and MCL) on Nov. 14, 2021.

Young was designated to return to practice on Nov. 2, opening a 21-day window for his return to the active roster. There were hopes he would be able to play in Week 10 against the Philadelphia Eagles or Week 11 against the Houston Texans, but the Commanders held off before adding him to the 53-man roster.

Wednesday would have marked the end of the 21-day window, after which Young would have had to move onto season-ending injured reserve.

Coach Ron Rivera did not go as far as to say that Young will play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

“We will work him with the intent that he’s ready to play,” Rivera said. “If he’s not, then we’ll wait another week. He’s ready to go as far as being activated.”

Rivera said the most important thing is to see Young consistently and confidently “cut it loose” during practice.

“We want to make sure he’s confident, no hesitation,” Rivera said. “… You start to see it, especially when he’s not thinking about it. I watch it very closely and every now and then check to make sure it’s fine. We want to make sure because the last thing we want is for him to get back out there and hurt it again.”

Young recorded nine sacks, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 70 total tackles in 24 career games (all starts) over his first two seasons. He was the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year after putting up 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three recoveries.

The Commanders (6-5) are coming off back-to-back wins against the Eagles and Texans and are in the thick of the NFC playoff race entering Sunday’s home game against the Falcons (5-6).

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) is sacked by Washington Commanders defensive end Montez Sweat (90) in the second quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders win as stifling defense holds Texans to 148 yards

Taylor Heinicke passed for 191 yards, Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat combined for four sacks and the visiting Washington Commanders won for the fifth time in six games by smothering the Houston Texans 23-10 on Sunday.

The Commanders (6-5) limited Houston (1-8-1) to 148 total yards and 2.7 yards per play. Behind Allen and Sweat, who produced two sacks apiece, Washington sacked Texans quarterback Davis Mills five times while also recording a pair of interceptions.

Mills did not eclipse 100 passing yards until the fourth quarter and the Texans did not record a touchdown until Mills scrambled for a 4-yard score with 3:19 left to play to cap an 11-play, 55-yard drive. Prior to that last-ditch march, the Commanders were in complete control.

The Texans amassed only five yards on 21 plays in the first half. Mills passed for 22 yards but was sacked three times for 23 yards for minus-1 net passing yards at the intermission. Rookie running back Dameon Pierce had six carries for two yards. Houston recorded one first down.

Mills tossed a pick-6 on the Texans’ second play from scrimmage, with Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller returning a pass intended for Brandin Cooks 37 yards for a score and a 7-0 Washington lead at the 13:16 mark of the first quarter. The Texans totaled minus-4 yards on their next drive.

With the defense dominating, Heinicke needed only to serve as a caretaker on offense. Washington strung together three consecutive scoring drives to close the first half, riding the ground game led by Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson and Curtis Samuel to a nine-play, 85-yard touchdown drive capped by a 10-yard Samuel run for a 14-0 lead with 11:44 left in the half.

Gibson finished with 72 yards on 18 carries to lead the Commanders.

Joey Slye added field goals of 25 and 24 yards later in the second quarter, the last coming with seven seconds left for a 20-0 lead. The Texans opened the second half with a march into the red zone that included a fourth-down conversion at the Washington 15. But Sweat sacked Mills for a 7-yard loss on third-and-goal, forcing Houston to settle for a 29-yard Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal.

The Texans incurred their fifth consecutive loss and remain winless at home this season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Washington Commanders running back J.D. McKissic (23) runs with the ball while Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II (23) defends in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Commanders RB J.D. McKissic to miss rest of season

Washington Commanders running back J.D. McKissic is being placed on injured reserve due to a neck injury that will sideline him for the remainder of the season, NFL Network reported on Saturday.

McKissic has been idle for Washington’s past two games. He last played in the Commanders’ 17-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 30, during which he carried twice for six yards and had three receptions for 14 yards.

McKissic, 29, has 22 carries for 95 yards and 27 receptions for 173 yards in eight games this season.

He has rushed for 1,074 yards and four touchdowns and has 220 catches for 1,674 yards and seven scores in 70 career games (14 starts) with the Seattle Seahawks (2016-18), Detroit Lions (2019) and Washington franchise.

–Field Level Media

Aug 20, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; A general view of Washington Commanders helmets against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Commanders players disciplined for drinking on team flight

The NFL disciplined multiple members of the Washington Commanders for drinking alcohol on the team’s flight home from Monday’s win against the Philadelphia Eagles, NFL Network and ESPN reported.

Videos posted to social media showed some players celebrating their win over their previously unbeaten division rivals by drinking on the team plane, a violation of league rules.

Reports said that coach Ron Rivera disciplined the players internally and there wouldn’t be additional discipline from the league.

“The league reviewed the matter this week and we’re satisfied with the discipline administered by the club,” an NFL spokesperson said, per NFL Network.

It remained unknown which players were involved or the level of discipline that was brought.

NFL Network also reported that the league sent teams a memo promising that “significant discipline” would be in order for other violations of the policy, which prohibits alcohol not only in team facilities but also on team planes and buses.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2022; Charlottesville, Virginia, US; A memorial sign is displayed on a Greek house near the site where three Virginia Cavaliers football players were killed in a shooting on the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY NETWORK

Commanders to honor slain Virginia football players

The Washington Commanders will wear three helmet decals on Sunday to honor the three University of Virginia players who were shot to death on campus last weekend.

The navy blue and orange decals will bear the numbers of the three players: No. 1 for Lavel Davis Jr., No. 15 for Devin Chandler and No. 41 for D’Sean Perry.

A former Virginia player, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., has been charged with second-degree murder in the case.

“Our hearts are with @UVAFootball and the UVA community affected by the tragedy,” the Commanders tweeted Friday.

The players were shot on a bus as they returned from a trip to see a play in Washington, D.C., for a class assignment.

The Houston Texans (1-7-1) are hosting Washington (5-5) in the 1 p.m. game.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Confident Commanders head to Houston behind Taylor Heinicke

In the aftermath of a Monday night win over the Eagles, the Washington Commanders had two pressing roster issues to address in Week 11.

The Commanders (5-5) travel to face the Houston Texans (1-7-1) on Sunday at NRG Stadium most likely without quarterback Carson Wentz (finger), who was cleared to start throwing but not designated to return to the active roster. Taylor Heinicke will make his fifth start of the season.

Washington has won three of the four games started by Heinicke, including the 32-21 victory that blemished the Eagles’ ledger. Replacing Heinicke with Wentz, who labored in his six starts, might have been an issue in a locker room that seems to have rallied around the former.

“We have time. That’s the really good thing that is on our side,” Commanders coach Ron Rivera said. “He’s done some good things and we’ll see how it happens this week. To me, it’s part of having to make a decision. You’ve got to be realistic, you’ve got to watch and you’ve got to see and that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been paying attention to it, not just an individual but as much as it affects a unit and a team.

“It’s a good problem to have.”

That answers the first question for Washington.

The other: discussion of Commanders defensive end Chase Young, the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, playing against the Texans multiplied in recent days. Young, who last played on Nov. 14, 2021, prior to undergoing knee surgery, is nearing a return but the decision on when is still pending.

“I think we still have a little over a week to make that decision, but he is trending in the right direction,” Rivera said. “We’ll have to see how things unfold this week as well. But it is coming.”

The Commanders are 4-1 in their last five games with Washington’s only loss a 20-17 setback against the Vikings. All five were one-possession games in the fourth quarter.

Houston hasn’t had made close calls in 2022 but its past three losses in a current four-game losing streak were all decided by one possession — no more than eight points.

In an attempt to bolster an offense that ranks 28th in scoring and 29th in yards, the Texans executed two waiver claims this week, adding running back Eno Benjamin from the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday and receiver Amari Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday.

Rodgers, a third-round selection (85th overall) out of Clemson in 2021, scuffled on special teams and logged only 201 offensive snaps over two seasons while amassing eight receptions for 95 yards. Rodgers had five fumbles this season, the most by any non-quarterback in the NFL, including one in Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys that facilitated his release.

Benjamin, taken in the seventh round out of Arizona State in 2020, produced 70 carries for 299 yards and two touchdowns this season. The Texans are desirous to build depth behind rookie running back Dameon Pierce, who has 898 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage, but there is uncertainty as to whether Benjamin will be available to play against the Commanders.

“No, he’ll be out there (Thursday),” Texans coach Lovie Smith said. “As far as improving our roster, whenever we have a chance, we’re constantly looking to improve our roster. When players become available that we think that can help us, and that’s the case with Eno.

“I’ll put it like this. We have to keep moving on like he’s not going to play. Since we’re bringing a new player into the mix, we played a lot of games when he wasn’t a part of the team, so we’re moving on like he is not and will not (play). We’re going to give him a little bit of time, at least get in the building and then we’ll see.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) prepares to snap the ball during the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders name Taylor Heinicke starting QB for Week 11

Washington head coach Ron Rivera named Taylor Heinicke the Commanders’ starting quarterback for this week’s game against the Houston Texans.

Carson Wentz (finger) resumed throwing Wednesday but has not been cleared for a return to practice. He’s eligible to come off injured reserve after missing four weeks.

Wentz started the season as the QB1 in Washington until a fractured right ring finger sent him to IR following a Week 6 win over the Chicago Bears.

Heinicke is 3-1 since Wentz went to the sideline with a 2-4 record. Heinicke capped the active run Monday night with a 32-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, who were previously unbeaten and among Super Bowl favorites.

The 29-year-old Heinicke has five touchdowns and four interceptions in 2022, piloting a run-first offense to wins over the Eagles, Colts and Packers in addition to a three-point loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Once Wentz is cleared for a return to practice, the Commanders have 21 days to add him to the active roster. Whether Wentz reclaims the starting QB role at that point is anyone’s guess.

“You have to look at the momentum,” Rivera said Wednesday. “You have to look at what the mood of the team is, obviously. You look at what is best for the team, and at the end of the day, that’s how it has to be.”

Acquired by the Commanders from the Indianapolis Colts, Wentz had 10 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He was sacked nine times in a 24-8 loss to the Eagles on Sept. 25.

–Field Level Media