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On the first day of the Washington Commanders’ mandatory minicamp, rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels flashed the running ability that general manager Adam Peters once said “sucks your soul on defense.”

During a two-minute practice Tuesday in Ashburn, it was fourth-and-middle near the halfway line. In this scenario, the Commanders were down 21-20 and needed to get into field goal range. Daniels rolled to his right, found a gap and took the first down. A few plays later, he left the field after giving his team a chance at a long field goal with two seconds left.

In the NFL, heroics mean nothing in June. But that play and others like it are boosting the confidence of Daniels’ teammates, some of whom were effusive in their praise for him on Tuesday — including a long monologue from wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who called Daniels “very charismatic,” “really personable,” “approachable,” “prepared,” “talented,” “humble” and “confident.”

“He’s going to be a really good player because he puts in so much time and work,” McLaurin said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a young quarterback say something in the first week like, ‘Hey, can we practice this route?’ or ‘Let me do this after practice?’ That’s exciting to me because that opens the door (to communication).”

Left guard Nick Allegretti said he was unable to get to the team facility before Daniels, even though he was there at 6:30 a.m.

“He’s around the facility a lot,” Allegretti said. “He talks and gets along with all the guys, but he’s not a super loud personality yet. He’s going about it the way I think a lot of rookies should — feeling his way through, feeling out what his role is, and then when he’s on the field, he takes that leadership role.”

Although his teammates cheer him on publicly, they don’t seem to treat him any differently internally. After Daniels bounced his ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park on Sunday, coach Dan Quinn joked, “It’s a good thing he’s throwing here and not down at the stadium.” Later Tuesday, Daniels threw several throws from about 15 yards into the holes of a net, and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury joked, “Thanks for coming today, 5!”

The Commanders’ spring philosophy is essentially, “Let’s try things.” Coaches assigned players new roles and positions: Emmanuel Forbes Jr. caught punts. Rookie quarterback and current wide receiver Luke McCaffrey practiced handoff-taking. Eleven players returned kicks, and at one point the first-team linebackers played with the fourth-string defensive backs.

“There’s still a lot of experimentation to be done,” Quinn said. “The fit, the people, the techniques – that’s what it’s all about. Sometimes you’ll say, ‘That wasn’t a good play or a good finish,’ but there’s still information you can find out.”

There were a dizzying number of combinations at safety — Percy Butler, Quan Martin, Jeremy Chinn, Darrick Forrest and others — and some rotation on the offensive line, although Cornelius Lucas and Allegretti took most of the first-team duties at left tackle and left guard. The most notable change: Daniels took nearly all of the starter’s duties at quarterback. In previous weeks, Marcus Mariota took most of those.

Before practice, Quinn said, the Commanders want to test certain players at certain moments. During the two-minute drill, wide receivers Dyami Brown, Olamide Zaccheaus and Jahan Dotson were.

Defensive tackle Johnny Newton is “hitting all the right spots” in his recovery, Quinn said. But the second-round draft pick, who is recovering from a second foot surgery, is still wearing a boot and is on the sidelines.

“He can do light training,” Quinn said. “We’ll continue through training camp. No decision has been made as to whether he will participate in training camp or not. We’ll take it week by week.”

Now the kicker competition begins. After signing Ramiz Ahmed last week, the Commanders invited free agents to a workout Tuesday morning, including 25-year-old Andre Szmyt, according to a person familiar with the situation. Lucas Havrisik, 24, was at practice later in the day and will also compete Wednesday and Thursday, Quinn said. Jake Bates, 24, whose United Football League season recently ended, is also expected to visit, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Neither kicker has much experience. Ahmed, 28, is the oldest, and Havrisik is the only one to have attempted a field goal in an NFL game — in eight games with the Los Angeles Rams last season, he made 15 of 20 (plus 19 of 22 extra points).

“We will continue digging over the next few days,” Quinn said.

Bob Myers, an adviser to managing partner Josh Harris, was at practice on Tuesday. The former Golden State Warriors general manager spent most of the afternoon talking with Peters and former quarterback Joe Theismann.

Washington Redskins

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