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DC Defenders Training Camp Review

QB Cardale Jones huddles together with the DC Defenders offense

The innaugural DC Defenders training camp has come and gone, and now all that remains is the season-opener against the Seattle Dragons on Feb. 8, at Audi Field.

But what did we learn from the three weeks in Houston?

What will the DC Defenders official roster look like? 


  • The Defenders are going to defend: Perhaps it's because defenses typically gel quicker than offenses in the early stages of team activities, but the Defenders are looking great on defense. The secondary is loaded with ballhawks and elite speed. The linebackers are instinctual and love to hit. The defensive line is a nasty bunch of guys.
  • Overtime Madness: Overtime looks like it is going to be so much fun. Teams practiced a full overtime period during every joint practice and in scrimmages and it did not disappoint. It goes by quickly but is 100% high drama. 
  • Jacked Up: Expect a ton of big hits. The speed of the game is going to increase the amount of traffic in the middle of the field, which is a good thing for fans of punishment.
  • Breathing Fire: The Defenders got a chance to share the field with their Week 1 opponent, the Seattle Dragons, on two separate occasions, and that led to a good bit of tension by the end of training camp. The Monday scrimmage between the two teams got pretty chippy, and will go a long way toward establishing rivalries in the early stages of the league.


  • The Secondary: Playmakers, all of them. The defensive back unit was arguably the team’s strongest at training camp, with a well-balanced core of talent, experience, instincts and speed. Each player provides a different, unique skill set to the defense and together they fit perfectly. Matt Elam brought experience and swagger. Elijah Cambell brought punishment. Bradley Sylve and Jalen Myrick provided the top-end speed. Looking to lock down the outside? That is Des Lawrence's game.  Need a big play? Look no further than ballhawks Doran Grant, Tyree Kinnel and Carlos Merritt. Those three made big plays throughout camp. Grant is particular, always seemed to have his hands on the ball.  

That all may read a bit hyperbolic, but what we’re trying to say is: The secondary looked really good.

  • DT Kenny Bigelow: Has a strong base, and is very physical at the point of attack. He will play a major role in stopping the run.
  • OT Malcolm Bunche: Has a great frame and is quick off the blocks. Bunche knows how to use his hands well and was solid in 1v1 drills during joint practices.
  • LB John Celestin: Strong positional instincts, and always seemed to be near the action. The former Minnesota Golden Gopher is a very physical player. Expect him to make big hits in the middle of the field this season.
  • TE Khari Lee: Really good speed and quickness for a 6-4, 235-pound tight end. The Bowie State product is a strong pass-catcher who excels at creating catching space.
  • RB Jhurell Pressley: An explosive and powerful back who is as fast as he is strong. The Delaware native is solid in pass protection too.
  • RB Donnel Pumphrey: Excels in space and catching passes. He possesses elite speed and has excellent field vision.
  • DT Tracy Sprinkle: Used his size really well. Was explosive off the blocks. He has a wide variety of moves that made stopping him very difficult in 1v1 drills.
  • WR DeAndre Thompkins: Made big play after big play. The former Penn State star was the strongest route runner throughout camp, finding himself open more often than not. 


Quarterbacks: #3 Tyree Jackson, #12 Cardale Jones

Running Backs: #32 Khalid Abdullah, #31 Nick Brossette, #26 Jhurell Pressley, #24 Donnel Pumphrey

Wide Receivers: #10 Simmie Cobbs, #19 Malachi Dupre, #16 Tyler Palka, #4 Eli Rogers, #15 Rashad Ross, #9 Jalen Rowell, #1 DeAndre Thompkins

Tight Ends: #80 Donnie Ernsberger, #85 Derrick Hayward, #86 Khari Lee

Offensive Line: #69 Cole Boozer, #75 Chris Brown, #78 Malcolm Bunche, #74 Rishard Cook, #51 Dorian Johnson, #77 James O'Hagan, #64 Jon Toth, #72 Logan Tuley-Tillman, #79 De'Ondre Wesley

Defensive Line: #97 Suipeli Anau, #91 Tavaris Barnes, #95 Kenny Bigelow, #96 Jay Bromley, #99 Sam Montgomery, #92 Elijah Qualls, #93, Tracy Sprinkle, #94 Kalani Vakameilalo

Linebackers: #52 Jonathan Celestin, #56 KeShun Freeman, #54 Jonathan Massaquoi, #59 A.J. Tarpley, #53 Jameer Thurman, #55 Antwione Williams, #58 Scooby Wright

Cornerbacks: #28 Elijah Campbell, #21 Doran Grant, #25 Desmond Lawrence, #23 Jalen Myrick, #3O Bradley Sylve

Safeties: #22 Matt Elam, #29 Tyree Kinnel, #27 Carlos Merritt, #38 Shamarko Thomas

Special Teams: #42 LS Brian Khoury, #7 P Hunter Niswander, #2 K Tyler Rausa

Injured Reserve: #6 WR Frank Brown, #37 CB Deion Harris, #5 WR Deion Holliman