Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media after practice on July 28. Here is a full transcript of his press conference.
On how he separates what he anticipated seeing on the field to what he is actually seeing:
"Oh, I think we did that from day one. You know, we went three days of rookie camp. Saw a lot of positive things out there and then these last three have been really good in terms of what we've been watching. Everything from watching the offensive line and now watching the offensive line compete with the defensive line, to the quarterbacks trying to go through their progressions and read the defense as it's happening. I think all that's been really good for us. It really has and so you see the growth, you see the development, some disappointment. Obviously, some things that you say, oh, you gotta see that sooner, make that decision quicker as far as the quarterbacks are concerned. When you're watching the young DBs, like yesterday, Emmanuel [Forbes Jr.] was on Terry [McLaurin]. Terry being the wily veteran, knowing that, hey, I come out of that get flat, turn my head, my eyes inside, and knowing Forbes is an aggressive guy, he went down and Terry turned it up and that's how Terry beat him. So, you see that growth and development, and you see those things that, that are, that are great teaching and learnable moments."
On QB Jacoby Brissett trying something in practice that he wouldn't in a game because he is a veteran:
"Well, today I saw it from all three quarterbacks. You know, there were a couple of throws that you asked Sam [Howell] why and he said, well, I had that, but I wanted to see if I could get that and that's what camp is for. It's to see what your limits and abilities are, whether you have that kind of ability to make that play. That's good for him to learn as long as he knows it. So, for him to say, well, I know I had that, but I saw that one to see if I get that, that's a good thing. With Jacoby and there's a couple throws that you saw and go now he saw that as a veteran. He saw that and that's the thing that's kind of helping because as we watch Jacoby go through it, I can see Sam sometimes the light bulb going off and then sometimes just wondering, did he see it or not."
On the value of DT Jon Allen and DT Daron Payne in terms of interior pressure:
"Well, it is gonna affect everybody else. The quickest way to the quarterback is a straight line and the shortest straight line is right through the A-gaps. So, when you have guys like that who can be disruptive and get into those creases and get vertical quickly, it helps the rest of the pass rush. It helps the coverage and forces the quarterback to make some decisions a little bit sooner. It cleans up a lot of things for a lot of people. Secondly, when you are playing run defense and you know that both A-gaps out to the B-gaps can be pretty much taken by those guys, it allows the linebackers to run. There's a lot of positive. That's why it's important to be able to have that kind of tandem there and then have some quality young backups too, in case something happens. You have guys you can plug in. We get Phil [Mathis] back from last year's injury. JR [John Ridgeway] has done a nice job. Abdulah Anderson's a guy that's come in and has really caught our attention. Benning [Potoa'e], one of the guys we had last year that played a lot for us. He's a young guy that we like, and then again, David Bada the international kid who played at the end for us a little bit but we got a good group right there and we're gonna find some good players out of that to go with both Daron and Jonathan."
On how RB Brian Robinson Jr. looks this year:
"What's exciting and for that group as a whole? They came back basically the way they needed to. They're all leaner. They've all obviously have been working on their catching and their route running. They understand what [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator] Eric [Bieniemy] wants in terms of the way to practice and play. He wants speed out there. He wants quickness out there and again, the idea is getting the ball into their hands quickly and space creates a lot of good things. So, with BRob, you're seeing that he's still a downhill runner but he has that quick cut to reverse his field and get going and so there's a lot of good things from him."
On if he ever saw the full Robinson Jr. last year and if he is seeing it more now:
"I think we got to see it probably getting into three quarters of the way into the season and then he got nicked up at the end with the thigh contusion. But I think we had a real good picture of what it can be. What we're seeing now is a little more mature version of last year's guy that went through camp and he's still learning. He's still growing and they've still got a ways to go but there's a lot of promise. There's a lot of excitement right now."
On if having QB Sam Howell leads to familiarity for WR Dyami Brown:
"Well, I know this much one of the things that both those guys told me and they were both excited about it was they worked together all spring, you know, they went back home. They were both back at UNC. Hung out together when they went to Charlotte. They hung out together, did a lot of work, so it's carried over. We saw it during OTAs and minicamp, and we're seeing it right now with the start of training camp, so that's something that's very promising and very exciting."
On where he has seen the most growth in Brown's game:
"I see Dyami more confident, more comfortable in his route running right now. He's more precise, he's sharper, and you see him going after the ball. That's something we saw coming out of the draft a few years back that this guy led the NCAA in contested catches, so that's one of the things that we're happy to see again."
On if he was aware that Kevin Durant was in attendance today:
"Somebody told me that coming off. It's great to have KD here. I know he is a local guy. I know how much of a Washington Redskins/Commanders fan he is. Great to have his support. I mean, it is great to have the fanbase back. I mean, this has been really cool the last couple days. It has. I'm looking forward to tomorrow because a lot of people will be off. They're gonna be coming, and we're expecting a pretty good crowd. So, this is exciting. It is. To have guys like KD come back and show their support means an awful lot to us."
On if the running backs coming back leaner was a request from Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy:
"No, I think it's a realization to understand that this is how you've gotta do things. And I think that's something that the guys took to heart coming out of OTAs and minicamp was what's being demanded upon them and what's being expected of them. And so seeing them walk in the way they did and do the things that they've been doing lately, it's been really good to watch."
*On how he envisions RB Antonio Gibson's role on this offense: *"I think it's gonna be a mix as I see all the running backs. I mean, I can see where he can go out and he'll line up in the slot, lineup outside in the wing, and instead of always motioning back or shifting him back, he can play from there. And again, that goes back to his days when we saw him at Memphis. He's a guy that we think can do some of those things and be a little bit of a hybrid for you. I could see us taking him and doing a little bit of that Curtis Samuel role that we used last year. And I know that some of the things that Eric and the offensive staff have looked at, have actually installed. In fact, they showed a little bit of it today. So, there's some things that we're pretty excited about."
On people using the term Redskins more since new ownership came in:
"Well I know this, [Washington Commanders Managing Partner] Mr. [Josh] Harris and that ownership group talked extensively about bringing back the glory. And again, what Coach Gibbs did, the traditions, that alumni group of guys that are around. It's hard to escape it. It really is. That's just the truth of the matter. Just so everybody knows, we do that with the utmost respect for the native tribes and for the American Indian. Anytime that's brought up, it is brought up with the utmost of respect."
On his opinion on the tight end room:
"I mean, all five guys came in great shape. All five guys have been getting opportunities to go out and produce. In fact, we've used [TE/FB] Alex Armah a little bit more in not just the fullback position, but we used him today at some of the Y and the U stuff as well. So, it's a group that most certainly will play a bigger role in what Eric wants to do. And all you gotta do is look at the stuff that they did in Kansas City using tight ends and using a fullback."
*On if he relies on team leaders to build that sense of unity and culture within the team during camp: *"Well, there's a group of guys that do a lot of stuff together. I mean, they've done everything from getting together and going bowling, going to Top Golf. They go out to dinner a lot. They did a lot of the basketball games this year, hockey. It was really kind of cool to watch these guys take care of each other and be around one another. And that's something that's been pretty special. But we'll continue to do the different things that you can do to bond this group. And we need to because it's important more so than anything else because these are guys that we're gonna go into the season with, so continuing to develop that cohesiveness is a big deal."
*On if he thinks Robinson Jr. is coming into this year with a whole new perspective and on observing Robinson Jr. showing a lot of appreciation to the fans: *"I think he is coming in with a whole different perspective. I mean, last year he was a wide-eyed rookie and went through a very traumatic situation very early. And just never really got a chance to enjoy it and show his personality to who he really is, I think. And I think now, folks are gonna get to see who he is and see him do these types of little things. I'll tell you right now, it's really kind of cool because from us to the fans, we really just appreciate them coming out and to those that stuck through us through the thick and thin and were always there cheering for us -- I know there's a lot of other things out there, but just being there for us, I really appreciate it. I really thank you to them and having these folks come out the last couple days, thank you for being here and I'm looking forward to those who come out. I really do mean that because the last few years have been hard. They've been trying but knowing that there are people out there that really do appreciate us, we really appreciate them. So, thank you to the fan base."