By Adam Aniba
As Commanders Training Camp kicks off this week, it was announced that Daron Payne is dealing with a toe injury and will be day-to-day. Although it's not believed to be a significant injury, these type of injuries have a tendency to linger.
Although second year DT Phidarian Mathis (College Scouting Report) is coming off a torn meniscus that occured during Week 1 last season and required surgery, he's the next man up to start alongside Jon Allen until Payne returns.
The former Alabama defensive lineman registered no stats in his lone opportunity last season, but had a breakout senior season for the Tide in 2021.
Mathis had a pedestrian career for the Crimson Tide with 10.5 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss in 4 seasons, until he exploded onto the scene in 2021 with 9 sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.
During the '21 Senior Bowl, Executive Director Jim Nagy was impressed with the Alabama defensive tackles performance during his week in Mobile.
"I've seen a lot of good defensive linemen coming out of Tuscaloosa, they're pretty good at every position up there. Every year there's like a new guy, and Phil is the next one. He's not just a two down player in our opinion. Every team is looking for guys who can get up field and rush the passer and affect the quarterback from the inside... and Phil can do that."
Mathis displayed a fierce bull rush and the ability to effectively beat double teams, while playing in the SEC. He'll get an opportunity to refine his arsenal, now with a shot at getting extended reps alongside Allen and the starters.
Although it's believed Payne could be back sooner rather than later, every practice rep with the starters will only help Mathis progress as a defensive lineman.
Washington hasn't had much success developing 2nd round draft picks over the last 20+ years. Mathis looks to break the trend and has the ceiling to be a solid contributor as one of the defenses top reserves, if he can put it all together post-injury.