Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media after practice on Nov. 21. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.
On LB Cody Barton coming back from injury:
"They're good. They moved around well and it was good to see them out there. We're going to activate Cody tomorrow, just to give you guys a heads up on that. He's had a good couple of days. He had actually a good week last week, and he's chomping at the bit, he's been a pain."
On how having Barton back helps the team:
"Well, I think what it does is it puts [LB] Jamin [Davis] back at his more natural position that he's been playing the last couple of years and just kind of settle him back down. That'd be really good for Jamin. And just his overall communication skills as an inside guy. I don't know if we'll have to rely on as many different personnel groupings either on defense, but I thought [LB] David Mayo came in and did a heck of a job for us."
On why after a tough game QB Sam Howell can bounce back:
"Oh, I just think because he learns, he learns from those mistakes. I mean, you think about it too. He stacked several good games in a row, so somewhere along the line he was going to have one that he was going to struggle with. So, just anticipating him to get an opportunity to reset himself and get himself ready to go and just got a lot of confidence in who he is."
On the current team mentality:
"I think it's been pretty good. Like I said yesterday, for the most part the guys came in and were really steady, really focused in on getting ready for Dallas. So, feel pretty good about them. I think they had a good day today, brought some energy out at walkthrough."
On what he appreciates about being able to play on Thanksgiving:
"[Laughs] Just the fact that it'll be a couple extra days to relax a little bit."
On if there is anything different being done from the last short week against Chicago compared to this week:
"Yeah, different thought process as far as I'm concerned in my messaging with the players, hopefully it's the right one. I think our guys have gotten the message. I think they've come in and they had a good day today. They really seemed focused and brought some energy. They seem to be in a good place right now."
On if there is any confidence Howell or the team can take away from beating Dallas in Week 18 last season:
"Well, I think we can, just knowing that, again, that was Dallas' first unit and they were still playing for playoff positioning. I mean, they were in, but it was all about positioning at that point. They came out and gave a good effort and I thought Sam handled the situation pretty well."
On if being a running back screen heavy offense helps the defense prepare for Dallas:
"It does. Again, just having a feel for those types of things and hopefully, we will be on it. They do run several screens and for the most part, they use a specific personnel grouping and then they try to manipulate it by the movements and actions that they use and try to get it the backs. Hopefully we've studied that and prepared ourselves and hopefully our guys get that as one of their tips and clues as they look into it."
On if there is a greater emphasis on the mental side of things coming out of last week:
"I think the biggest thing more than anything else is just really trying to understand your opponent, what they're trying to do and when and how. I mean, that's probably the thing that we as coaches look at and try and give those ideas, those clues, those tips to the offensive and defensive players so that they're prepared, and they're ready for those things."
On how he can get the offense and defense to be in sync:
"Every day you try to get these guys to understand that, and you do what you can. Each game has a personality and as it unfolds, you try to get things corrected during the game. And hopefully, going into a game like this, our guys know what's at stake, what the opportunity is, who your opponent is. They're playing in one of the greatest football rivalries, period. And so, they should understand. And if they don't know it now, I think they'll learn, especially the young guys what this is really all about."
On the biggest challenge for the defense:
"I think the biggest thing more than anything else really is just explosive plays. [Dallas Cowboys WR] CeeDee Lamb is about as good a player as there is in this league right now. Explosive, dynamic player. A lot of things that they do are surrounded around him. And so, it's about being able to contain him. Got to have somebody over the top and just understanding where and how they're going to try and use him and then you got to be careful. You spend too much time on him and they've got running backs that are dynamic runners and you've got to pay attention to them because not only do they run the ball well, but they're also a threat with the ball thrown to them. Tight end has always been a part of what they do offensively. They've got enough offensive firepower that you really have to be aware."
On why Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is playing so well:
"One of the things it looks like is he's getting the ball out of his hands quicker. I think a lot of it has to do with some of the things that [Dallas Cowboys Head] Coach [Mike McCarthy] has done in terms of taking some of the things he did in Green Bay and implementing them."
On Prescott's longevity:
"I think early on, [Dallas Cowboys Owner] Jerry Jones figured that's the guy he wanted. When the owner is all in and does that for his quarterback, that signals a pretty clear message to everybody that this is our guy, unless something crazy happens to him."
On how they can work on fumble prevention at this stage of the season on a short week:
"On the short week is hard because your time is trying to prepare to get ready to play. And the X's and O's are all part of it. But I know you guys see it because we constantly work on it. You guys have had the scene in front of you when our running backs are working with [Assistant Running Backs] Coach [Jennifer] King and [Senior Offensive Assistant/Running Backs] Coach [Randy] Jordan are working with those guys. We do a takeaway Thursday where both the offense and the defense work a circuit and are trying to create takeaways and trying to protect the football. It's something that just, you got to continue to work on and make sure it's fresh in the minds."
On if he reflects on how much has changed since last year:
"Oh yeah, I have, but the biggest thing, the most important thing, more so than anything else really is just putting this team in a good spot and working to continue to grow and develop."
On what is different about the messaging to his team this week versus the short week in Week 5:
"I think the biggest thing more than anything else is this is a divisional game and it's against probably our archrival. So, it's a different kind of messaging, it's a different kind of outlook and approach, more so than anything else."