The Washington Football Team wrapped up Wednesday's preparations for its Week 7 game against the Green Bay Packers with Ron Rivera, Chris Blewitt and Taylor Heinicke addressing the media. Here are some of the key takeaways from their press conferences.
- Washington made the move to release Dustin Hopkins and sign Blewitt as his replacement Wednesday morning. Blewitt, 26, comes from the University of Pittsburgh and was the program's all-time leader in points by a kicker (363), field goals (55) and extra points (198). Blewitt had worked out with Washington before and had the same consistency. Rivera said he only missed one kick from more than 50 yards away. He kicks the ball relatively deep on kickoffs, which he showed by kicking a ball into the wind during his workout. The ball had about four seconds of hang time, Rivera said, and it landed seven yards deep into the end zone.
- As Rivera has said multiple times, Washington is what its record says, and right now it's a 2-4 football team. That's certainly important to Rivera, but competitiveness carries just as much value to the head coach. If the team is fighting on every play, he feels good about that aspect. It's always frustrating to lose, but what helps is to know that the team is playing hard and limiting mental mistakes. That, Rivera said, is growth.
- Ricky Seals-Jones has stepped up nicely as Washington's No. 1 tight end with Logan Thomas on Injured Reserve. Over the past two games, he has 99 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions. He has a good understanding of leverage and finding open space in defense, which could be seen during his 39-yard touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs when he got behind the Chiefs' secondary. Once Thomas comes back, Rivera believes it'll open up more opportunities for two-tight end sets. That could lead to defenses having to plan for Washington's offense a little differently, Rivera said, which in turn could open up more opportunities for players like Terry McLaurin and Dyami Brown.
- Blewitt, who grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, had a distinctly different life prior to becoming Washington's kicker. In the mornings, he was a personal trainer, and then he worked at a UPS warehouse in Springfield, Virginia, in the evenings on weekdays. It was demanding work, he said, but he viewed it as "character building." He also trained every day to be ready whenever an opportunity came his way. On Wednesday morning, he was told that Washington was signing him to the active roster.
- Working two jobs while still chasing NFL aspirations required a strict routine, which Blewitt followed diligently. Every two weeks, he would work with his trainer that he's known since high school, and in between jobs he would work to stay in shape. Fortunately for Blewitt, he's had a strong support system made of his coaches and family members. His managers at UPS also understood what he was trying to do, so they allowed him to work around his training regimen.
- Heinicke's performance over the past two games has not been up to his standard. He's thrown for 430 yards with one touchdown to three interceptions. Heinicke said that he's been trying to play perfect lately, which has resulted in him forcing passes and holding the ball for too long. Against the Packers, who have grabbed six interceptions thus far, and going forward, he wants to have a different mindset. So, if Heinicke's first or second option is available, he'll strive to make the most out of the situation, whether that be by throwing the ball away or making a play with his legs.
- Heinicke's father passed away in December of 2011, but Brett Heinicke still has a heavy influence on his life. He recalled after throwing an interception during his first game playing quarterback in the eighth grade, Heinicke's father came up to his room and said some words that have stuck with the quarterback to this day. Heinicke said his father taught him how to be tough and humble, and as he prepares to play against the team that meant so much to his father, he knows his father is still with him.
- Heinicke grew up as a Packers fan and idolized Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, who played a large role in why Heinicke decided to play quarterback in the first place. There are some parts of Favre's playing style that Heinicke has tried to adopt into his own. He was just slinging the ball around, Heinicke said, and he looked like he was having fun every time he was on the field. There's a fine line Heinicke wants to tread with that style; he doesn't want to make bad decisions while trying to play free. It's something he has worked on every day and will continue to do so with several challenging teams looming on the schedule.