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Has Commanders RB Austin Ekeler done any homework on QBs Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels? 'Heck, no'

Changing coasts and changing conferences, Austin Ekeler is likely to be sharing backfields with another first-round quarterback.

Having played the past seven seasons with former first-rounders Philip Rivers and Justin Herbert, Ekeler's set to play his first season with the Washington Commanders in 2024. It's next door to a guarantee that Ekeler will be playing with another first-rounder, as Washington holds the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and doesn’t plan on shopping it.

With speculation at a high regarding whether the Commanders will select LSU's Jayden Daniels or North Carolina's Drake Maye, Ekeler, perhaps surprisingly, has yet to do any homework on the two. He's just waiting for it to play out like everyone else.

"Heck, no. I ain't got time to do the homework," Ekeler said recently in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio. "That's not my job, that's not my job. I'll leave that to the administration to do that. Whoever we end up picking, if that's the route we choose to go, then I'll do some homework then. But until they give me that person's name, I ain't even worried about it."

Whether it's Maye or Daniels, Ekeler is likely to play a major part in their rookie season -- and they for him during his first Washington campaign.

Despite dealing with injury issues and missing three games in 2023 with the Los Angeles Chargers, Ekeler still hauled in 55 receptions, marking the fifth consecutive year in which he's had at least 50 catches.

Whether it was Rivers or Herbert, Ekeler proved to be a go-to back in the passing game, having posted 400-plus receiving yards in six of his seven seasons.

Now, Ekeler, who's tallied 8,239 scrimmage yards and 69 total touchdowns in his career, will be catching balls from Daniels, Maye or potentially another former first-rounder, Marcus Mariota, a free-agent add for the new-look Commanders just like Ekeler.

While he's not studying up on his future QB, Ekeler is doing his best to lay the groundwork for the Commanders' franchise renovation.

2024 will be the second season for Washington under Josh Harris' ownership and the first for general manager Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn. Ekeler is one of a host of veteran signees, along with Zach Ertz, Nick Allegretti, Dorance Armstrong, Bobby Wagner, Frankie Luvu and many more.

The Commanders' new RB1 is set on setting the tone.

"There's a lot of new moving parts, new ownership, new coaches, a lot of new faces around, and so the energy has been great, because it's been a new clean slate for a lot of people in that organization, including all the new free agents that came in," Ekeler said. "So, we're bringing the energy with us. We have some older guys who have been leaders across this league, including myself, and we know that culture is important. And so that's why we're here out in OTAs, making sure we're building that as far as making sure we're buying in, making sure people are getting to know each other. We're spending time with each other. We're pushing each other. We're not letting each other get by and slack off. I think it's those types of things, creating that environment early is what's going to lead into giving yourself a chance down the road."

So, as Ekeler and Co. look to lay the groundwork, a presumptive new signal-caller will look to settle in. By that time, perhaps Ekeler will have started to study up on his newest teammate.

"Who knows what the draft is and what that plays out like, regardless of what happens there, we gotta make sure with the guys here we're starting that ecosystem," Ekeler said, "and that whoever we bring in, we kind of engulf them in there and show them the standard and make sure we hold everyone to it and have a good time at the same time, so we can look forward to giving ourselves an opportunity to win when it comes to the fall."

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