WASHINGTON (DC News Now) – There are going to be a lot of new faces at Audi Field when the D.C. Defenders play their first game of the season on February 19th against the Seattle Seahawks.

However, there is one player you might remember if you are a Washington Commanders fan. Defensive end Jacub Panasiuk played during the 2022 preseason with the Commanders, and now he is back in Washington representing the Defenders.

“It was awesome,” says Panasiuk, “When I saw I was going back to back to Washington it’s a good feeling just being familiar with the area being here a couple of times before.”

In May 2022, the Commanders signed the undrafted defensive end out of Michigan State where he finished his college career in 2021 earning second-team all-Big 10 honors.

During his time with the Commanders, Panasiuk was in awe of the talent on defense, and some players even took him under their wing during training camp.

“Especially the guys in the middle, Jon (Allen) and (Daron) Payne. Those are two of the best defensive line players that I’ve ever seen. And then Chase (Young) came in a little bit late because of his injury, but just him staying after practice with me and just going through certain techniques really, really helped me with my game.”

Panasiuk was only a member of the Commanders for a short time, he was cut a week before the 2022 regular season began, around the time the Commanders’ submitted their 53-man roster for the season.

“When I got let go it was tough. I questioned if I wanted to keep playing football and then just kept on relating back to the fact that I had a dream I have a goal, and I just want to get back to playing at the highest level.”

A dream, that began years ago for the Panasiuk family. Jacub was born to Polish immigrants just outside of Chicago and his family was used to watching another kind of football (soccer).

“I started playing when I was in third grade, they didn’t really know what it was.”

With the support of his family, Jacub went on to play in college alongside his older brother Mike, who was also playing in the XFL this year for the St. Louis Battlehawks.

As Panasiuk continues to pursue his football dreams in the XFL, he anticipates creating a winning football culture with the D.C. Defenders.

“(My) personal goal, lead the league in sacks but just overall build a good bond with the guys here and just try and win as many football games as we can.”

The D.C. Defenders will host the Seattle Seahawks on February 19th at 8:00 PM E.T. for their home opener at Audi Field.