Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera just wrapped up his Monday press conference coming out of the bye week. Here are some notes and quotes from his availability with the media.
-- There were plenty of injury updates today, so let's start off by rolling through them:
- Linebacker Jamin Davis is heading to Injured Reserve, Rivera confirmed, after sustaining an injury against the Miami Dolphins. He received an MRI over the bye week, and it was determined that he needed to get surgery on his shoulder. The surgery will end Davis' season.
- Center Ricky Stromberg had his surgery and is progressing well. He will not be back this season.
- Emmanuel Forbes (elbow) had a good week of rehab and will be evaluated throughout the week, as is the case for James Smith-Williams (hamstring). Rivera said prior to the Commanders' game against the Dolphins that if the team were to play a game the following week, he expected that Forbes would have played.
- Darrick Forrest is still getting evaluated by the doctors, and there is no update on when or if he will return this season.
- The team is going to check in on Saahdiq Charles to see how he feels.
- Rivera expects Brian Robinson Jr. to be ready to go for practice this week.
-- After spending more time evaluating Sam Howell, Rivera has been impressed with the young quarterback's growth. He's taken some strides in improving his footwork, and for the last four games, Rivera would like to see Howell have more confidence stepping up in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. "When he's done that, he's been very, very effective." He'd also like to see Howell continue to improve in making protection calls and checks at the line of scrimmage.
-- Prior to his injury, Rivera liked what he had seen from Davis as the team's WILL linebacker. He had improved at reading plays, getting downhill and running through blockers to make plays. He's covered "a lot of really good backs," Rivera said, and he was competitive in those matchups. "The more he played, the better he seemed to get."
-- Rivera also believes that Davis still has plenty of room to grow in his career. "He's really...taken a step each year," and Rivera feels like the linebacker took his biggest step in 2023. Being alongside Cody Barton, who has been the team's MIKE linebacker this season, allowed him to highlight some of his best features like his athleticism.
-- Without getting into some of the more minute details, Rivera said that the bye week was a good opportunity to get more perspective on how the Commanders have performed this season. Now, as the Commanders enter the final stretch of the team, the main focus is "playing well, playing fast and playing to win football games."
-- There has been a lot of attention paid to the interior defensive line by opposing offenses, Rivera said. "That's been tough, and they really had to fight through a lot." Neither Daron Payne nor Jonathan Allen, while occasionally providing moments that show their Pro Bowl pedigree, have been as productive as they were in years past with only 81 tackles and 7.5 combined sacks between them. It hasn't been for a lack of effort, though, as both players have tried to fight through the extra blockers put on them.
-- Finally, Rivera provided a preview for what he wants to see from his team against the Rams.
"This is a very good challenge for us, because it is a team that's fighting for their playoff life. The big thing that we have to do is go out and play our game."