Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media for the first time after the team's bye week. Here are some of the top notes & quotes from his press conference.
-- Rivera started off by providing some injury updates on key players. In short, things are headed in the right direction.
- Benjamin St-Juste had a good day of treatment and work today. "That was a huge plus, from what I've been told," Rivera said.
- Montez Sweat and James Smith-Williams are still in the concussion protocol but are progressing through the steps needed to be cleared and are near the end of it. Should things continue to be positive, they should be back on the practice field Wednesday or Thursday.
- Sam Cosmi has an ankle sprain and will be evaluated during the team's Tuesday walkthrough.
- Jamin Davis had a procedure on his thumb. "He should be fine," Rivera said.
- Antonio Gibson is dealing with a foot injury, and the team will continue to monitor it.
- Trai Turner got treatment on his leg during the bye week and should be fine, according to Rivera.
- Chase Young had some "really good" days during the bye week and "seems to be pretty confident."
-- When asked about improvements the Commanders could make in the rematch against the Giants, Rivera said the defense must do a better job of containing Daniel Jones, who rushed for 71 yards in Week 13. Jones is "an elusive runner," Rivera said, and the team must be able to counter him.
-- Rivera and the rest of the coaching staff have stressed the importance of Sunday's game to the players. A win would put their playoff chances to 90%, while a loss would put those chances around 40%.
"This is an opportunity, and we've got to focus in on it. This is the most important game we will play, as of now, and a big reason is because it's the one we're about to play. So we will try to keep our focus solely on that."
-- Rivera has chosen to give his players a little more time to rest and recover at certain points of the season, and he feels comfortable doing so because of the way they have handled that extra freedom. They have been professional and had the right kind of attitude. "You can see that they kind of get it and understand it's about their time management and they're handling that very well, the way they're managing their time."
-- Rivera also called the development of the younger players in the second "a big boost" because of their communication, which has helped the entire defense. "We've been able to plug other guys in that are ready to go and we've gotten a boost from that, I believe. I think it's important also having those young, fresh bodies out there because you know they're a little different. They're athletic, they're fast, they're twitchy, and they're more than willing."
-- Carson Wentz was activated off the Injured Reserve list on Monday, and the plan is for him to be the primary backup this week if all goes according to plan. "He's had a couple of good weeks of work. The first week he was on the side, the second week he was integrated into some of the defensive stuff. He threw with the receivers and then last week he was off."
-- Finally, Rivera made a strong statement about the team's focus for the rest of the regular season.
"This, for us, for the most part is a playoff atmosphere for the next four weeks, and hopefully for the next nine would be cool."