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Practice report | Notes & Quotes from Scott Turner, Jack Del Rio's press conferences

10182022 Week 7 Practice EF055

Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Scott Turner addressed the media following Thursday's practice. Here are some of the notes and quotes from their press conferences. 

-- Del Rio has been pleased with the way the defensive line has looked over the past two weeks, saying that they have improved at working with each other. The front has led a pass-rush that recorded 10 sacks in five days -- an effort that has the unit tied for fourth in the league with 19 sacks.  

Del Rio added that the group will need to continue that production against Aaron Rodgers, who he called "one of the all-time greats" at the quarterback position. 

"He's extremely accurate, a good decision maker," Del Rio said. "He can throw the ball from a lot of different slots, a lot of different angles. He makes decisions and gets [the ball] out really quick." 

-- Benjamin St-Juste has done a great job for the defense, Del Rio said of the second-year cornerback, as he has come in for an injured William Jackson III for the last two games. With St-Juste playing mostly as an outside corner in Jackson's absence, Rachad Wildgoose has been on the field in nickel packages and has made the most of his opportunities.

-- The sacks that Washington has accumulated in recent games have helped, but Del Rio said that the defense's improvement is not as simple as that. He highlighted the defensive line's improvements in rushing as one unit and executing together.

"I think we're doing that at a higher level," Del Rio said. "We need to continue to work at it and get better at as we go, but that's been where some of the improvement has shown up."

-- Del Rio has been impressed with the way James Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill and Efe Obada have stepped up while Chase Young recovers from his ACL injury. The expectation is that Young will be back soon, although there is no timetable for when he will suit up. His return will certainly impact the rotation at defensive end, but Del Rio said they will still contribute and be an important part of the pass-rush.

-- Turner said the offensive system will not change much with Taylor Heinicke as the starter, but he and the staff will cater the game plan to his skill set. He still wants the offense to be balanced and spread the ball to different receivers.

-- After receiving the film during the team's mini bye week, Turner said that negative plays "have killed us" and the unit's ability to sustain drives. Third downs have also been a pain point for the team. After ranking in the Top 10 in terms of third-down conversions, the team is 26th with a conversion rate of 35.4%.

"We got in way too many third and longs and then when we get in third and manageable," Turner said. "We gotta convert. We gotta play a complete game. There's been games like last week where we ran the ball well, but then we didn't do a good job in the passing game. Dallas game, same deal. Tennessee game, we were throwing the ball...down the field. We had some decent looks to run the ball, and we didn't capitalize."

-- Cole Turner has been gradually inserted into the Commanders' game plan over the past two weeks, and he got his first career catch against the Chicago Bears. Turner thought Cole got better as the game went on, and it was clear that he got more comfortable between his debut against the Tennessee Titans and the primetime game.

-- The Commanders will be facing linebacker Rashan Gary, who leads the Packers with six sacks. The Packers have several notable pass-rushers and top tier defensive linemen, like Kenny Clark, but Turner knows that the offense will need to account for Gary and avoid putting him in one-on-one matchups.

"I was with Rashan my year at Michigan," Turner said. "He was there and he's a guy that's just kept getting better and better since he's been in the league. He's playing at a very high level. Obviously, he played well against us last year, but he's playing as good as he ever as he ever has right now. So, he's someone that we gotta know where he is at, and you can't have let him wreck the game."

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