Kamren Curl’s absence in Washington Commanders’ Week 1 matchup vs Jaguars creates big void on defense

The Washington Commanders are just days away from kicking off their 2022 season, which will come against the Jacksonville Jaguars. We already knew they would be without top pass-rusher Chase Young for at least the first four games as he recovers from his ACL injury suffered last season. Now, starting safety Kamren Curl has also been ruled out for Washington’s Week 1 matchup.

Yet, like Young, Curl’s inability to suit up wasn’t completely unexpected. Curl’s been dealing with a thumb injury that he may have suffered in practice toward the end of Washington’s preseason. He’s been absent from practice all week and was seen with a sling on his right arm earlier in the week.

It’s unknown how long Curl’s injury could keep him sidelined, and some question whether the third-year pro will require surgery. What we do know is that Curl has officially been ruled out, and it appears his replacement will be 2021 fifth-round pick Darrick Forrest.

Related: NFL agents cast doubt on Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder ever being forced to sell the team

How Kamren Curl’s absence will hurt Commanders on gameday

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars
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In some ways, although it’s only Week 1, the Jaguars vs Commanders game is a big test for both teams as they begin a new season.

The Commanders came just one win away from a postseason appearance, and the Jaguars finished with the league’s worst record. They’re in very different places as they enter the 2022 season, but as they start a new year, both obviously are 0-0 right now.

It’s not hard to imagine both teams coming into the game roaring and ready to go, primed with the energy to come out of the gates strongly. Yet, as mentioned, the Commanders are a bit wounded, already down two defensive starters, and Carson Wentz will be making his first start with the team, in a new offense, with all-new playmakers surrounding him. Making matters worse, starting running back Brian Robinson is also sidelined after his unfortunate incident.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars couldn’t be more ready to get started and erase that disgusting taste of losing out of their mouths. Trevor Lawrence should have an easier time dissecting the defense, spreading the ball around to his newly-supplied weapons without Young breathing down his neck.

The same goes for their dual-threat rushing attack. We haven’t seen what Travis Etienne can do after missing his entire rookie season. James Robinson returns for his third season, hoping to bounce back from a disappointing season where he saw his touches reduced from 289 down to 195. Not having to face Curl should help open up more running lanes, as the safety graded out as the 19th-ranked player at his position (minimum of 500 snaps) according to Pro Football Focus in 2021.

Curl racked up 99 tackles for the team a season ago, which ranked as the second-most on the team.

Coach Ron Rivera can’t possibly know what to expect out of Darrick Forrest, the 23-year-old second-year-pro set to replace Curl, as he’s played just 26 defensive snaps in his brief career. He’s about to be thrown to the dogs on Sunday. The Commanders also have fourth-round rookie Percy Butler and Jeremy Reaves on hand at safety, with Bobby McCain as the expected starter opposite Forrest. Reaves has started eight games in his four seasons with Washington, and he may be a patch solution if Forrest can’t provide a spark.

While Lawrence didn’t light the league up last year either, his offense may be able to start off Week 1 with a bang.

Related: 2022 NFL defense rankings: Best NFL defenses in Week 1

This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.

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