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Commanders first-rounders Jahan Dotson, Emmanuel Forbes non-factors in Week 6 

Two first-round picks added up to zero production on Sunday for the Washington Commanders.

2022 first-rounder Jahan Dotson had zero catches on one target.

2023 first-rounder Emmanuel Forbes did not play a snap.

Head coach Ron Rivera isn't flustered by the lack of impact being made by his first-rounders, though, as he commended Forbes for how he's handling his benching and stressed that in due time, Dotson's production would increase.

"I think it's just a matter of time," Rivera said of Dotson on Monday, via team transcript. "Again, as we continue to work and try and distribute the ball to all the players, it'll happen. It's just one of those things that sometimes guys will be targeted more."

Dotson was targeted just once by quarterback Sam Howell on 40 snaps in Sunday's 24-16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In that same game, Forbes didn't play a single snap. Perhaps just as confusing was that he was active but didn't play at all.

Nonetheless, Rivera remarked that Forbes has taken his demotion in stride.

"I think he's been great," Rivera said. "He really has. He and I had a conversation last week as to what was going on. Just explained to him that we feel right now a little time down would help you. Good chance to kind of take a step back and watch it and see how things are done, see a little different perspective."

Taken with the 16th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, Dotson flashed potential aplenty in his rookie season, finishing up with seven touchdowns on 35 receptions with 523 yards in 12 games. He had 72 yards on three receptions (four targets) in Week 18, which was his first chance to play with Howell as the QB1.

This season, though, Dotson's posted just 17 catches on 31 targets for 140 yards and a TD in six games, with Sunday's showing easily his worst in a subpar year.

There's also been concern with No. 1 wideout Terry McLaurin's output, but he had a season-high 11 targets in Week 6. So, perhaps Dotson is the next receiver to have his role remedied in the first season under offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

"It's going to happen," Rivera said of Dotson getting involved. "When a guy's not getting the balls right now, it is just a matter of time. I think that's the thing we all have to be patient with. This is a good group of receivers.

"We're going to distribute the ball based on game plans and who our opponents are. Again, it starts with the quarterback's decision making, too."

As Howell continues to find his way, maybe he'll find Dotson more often, as well.

A look into the statistics shows that Howell has really spread the ball around. McLaurin's 42 targets are tops on the team, ahead of Curtis Samuel and Dotson at 31 apiece. Six other Commanders have 10 or more targets.

In comparison to Dotson's first six games played as a rookie (he missed Weeks 5-9 due to injury), there isn't all that drastic a difference. He had 14 receptions on 25 targets for 179 yards and four touchdowns. It was in Weeks 13-18 that Dotson started to turn it on and received his most targets. Perhaps Rivera's confidence portends to a similar trend in 2023.

Forbes' usage is different, of course. The 2023 No. 16 overall pick has largely struggled, having started Washington's first two games before coming off the bench the next three and then ultimately seeing no playing time in Atlanta.

For the season, Forbes has garnered a 37.0 defensive grade from PFF, with an ever more woeful 26.7 run defense grade. As the nearest defender in coverage, Forbes has allowed 405 yards, more than anyone else in the league, per Next Gen Stats.

It's been a struggle, and it would seem the plan going forward is to look and learn rather than get experience on the job.

"He's a young pro who's got a lot to learn and a lot of growth to have, but he's got a chance," Rivera said. "We really think this young man has got a great skill set and can be a good football player. This might take a little bit more time."

Back-to-back 16th-overall selections for the Commanders have hardly found sweet success just yet.

Rivera believes Dotson's production will come sooner than later, while Forbes' time to make an impact appears to be a long-term process.

Last week, Forbes had as many snaps as Dotson had catches. Perhaps that will change in Week 7 against the New York Giants.

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