Commanders GM Daryl Johnston on Johnny Manziel, Jason Witten

Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston talks to the defensive front at practice Tuesday at Farris Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston, shown at practice during training camp in San Antonio, shared his thoughts on former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel and Dallas Cowboys legend Jason Witten.
San Antonio Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston talked to the media on Thursday following the team’s practice.

The two biggest topics where Jason Witten, who announced he is returning to play for the Dallas Cowboys, and Johnny Manziel, who might be available to play in the Alliance of American Football after his CFL contract was terminated yesterday.

First a little background on a few points.

– Daryl Johnston spent his NFL career as a fullback for the Dallas Cowboys and won three Super Bowls before retiring and starting a TV career.

– Johnston makes a few references to Tom Dundon. Dundon is the investor who pumped $250 million into the AAF.

– Charlie Ebersol is the league founder.

– Stefan Charles is a former NFL player who signed with the San Antonio Commanders last week.

Daryl Johnston on whether the Commanders are trying to sign Johnny Manziel:

“Nothing with us right now. I think there has been some (talks) with Charlie Ebersol and Tom Dunden. But nothing with us directly here in San Antonio at this point.

“I had a conversation with Tom Dundon. He was the one who informed me yesterday of what happened and that Johnny Manziel was now available. He just said he belongs to you in San Antonio, so what are your thoughts? I said let’s just sit back and see what the league thinks and then we’ll move ahead from there. We’re kind of in a holding pattern right now here locally in San Antonio. We’ll see what the Alliance talks about.

“But it is different. And I asked Tom, I said what is the difference here with some of the other high profile players that have asked to come down? He said the big thing is they’re demanding different salaries. The one thing that Tom wants to make sure is that everybody in the Alliance is paid the same that first year, second year salary will be the same. That was the one big thing.

“It sounds as though Johnny Manziel is comfortable coming down here and playing for the salaries that have been established with us in the Alliance.”

Daryl Johnston on Johnny Manziel and other players coming to the AAF:

“Obviously with his connection to Texas A&M, he comes to San Antonio before he goes anywhere else. The one big thing about this league, and we’ve seen this now with the success of the first couple weeks and the ratings that we’ve got there’s been a lot of discussion. So there’s a lot of guys who are now interested in the Alliance. Obviously as we move through the season we’re going to continue adding players we think can help us win.

“Stefan Charles is one of those guys. Stefan was out there for the entire time through this process but until he really started to hear about it and really see what the Alliance was all about, he was a little bit hesitent to join. So he’s a classic example of one of those guys that you can add late because they’re just starting to hear about it and get their interest.

“The other thing, the Alliance is at the (NFL) combine right now. They’ve got a presence up there. They’re already starting to take a look at some of the guys who are going to be at the bottom of this year’s draft, those sixth-round players, potentially free-agent guys, the type of guys who typically come to us in the Alliance. That’s great.

We’re always looking to add some people as the season goes along. We’re starting to get a presence in some of the other parts of the football calendar.”

Daryl Johnston on Jason Witten returning to the Cowboys:

“I’m happy for him, I really am. I missed him as a player last year. I know the Dallas fans are going to be ecstatic. The one thing you forget about and what he’s done statistically is amazing throughout his career, but that leadership. That was so important during his time with the Dallas Cowboys. No. 1 they’ve got their leader back on the offensive side of the ball and throughout the team.

“I thought he was in a good place with his decision last year. Not a lot of people make that choice and go back, so it will be interesting to see what happens next year.”

Stefan Charles adds size to Commanders’ defense

Defensive tackle Stefan Charles was signed by the Commanders on Tuesday and was at his first practice with the team on Wednesday. - photo by Joe Alexander
Defensive tackle Stefan Charles was signed by the Commanders on Tuesday and was at his first practice with the team on Wednesday. – photo by Joe Alexander
New defensive lineman Stefan Charles got into his first practice with the San Antonio Commanders on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-4, 324-pound defensive tackle from Canada, who signed with the team the day before, was easy to spot in drills with Commanders defensive line coach Jeff McInerney.

“How about the size. Holy smokes,” said Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston, who got his first impression of Charles while doing NFL television broadcasts. “He’s a player that I actually remember doing Detroit games. I remember him on Detroit’s defensive line.”

Johnston and the Commanders staff watched film of Charles against the offensive lines from the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.

“He’s working through that guard-center-guard area and he’s doing really well,” Johnston said. “This was something that we had talked to coach McInerney about coming into the season being a little bit light in the D line probably in size and numbers. We only had five guys.

“We just felt it was time now as we see what some of the teams are doing, the running game is becoming important in this league. We wanted to get a little bit bigger up front and I think we achieved that with Stefan.”

Commanders add Stefan Charles, waive Kennan Gilchrist

San Antonio Commanders helmet from image released by the AAF @theAAF on Twitter.The San Antonio Commanders announced Tuesday they added defensive lineman Stefan Charles.

The team also announced linebacker Kennan Gilchrist was waived.

From the Commanders news release:

Charles, a native of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, has four years of NFL service, spanning 49 total games. He spent the 2013-15 seasons with the Buffalo Bills where he appeared in 37 games with two starts and made 48 total tackles along with 5.0 sacks. He was a member of the Detroit Lions in 2016, playing in 12 games with 12 tackles. Charles spent the the 2017 offseason with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the 2018 offseason with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Charles attended the University of Regina in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, where he played Canadian Interuniversity Sport football with the Regina Rams. Following the 2012 CIS season, Charles was ranked as the second best player in the Canadian Football League’s Amateur Scouting Bureau final rankings for players eligible in the 2013 CFL Draft.

After going undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, Charles was drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos with the 10th overall pick in the 2013 CFL Draft. However, he elected to sign a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans instead of joining the Eskimos.