Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media after practice on July 31. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.
On his emotions drafting QB Sam Howell:
"They were kind of mixed because that was kind of the thought is that it would be great if he was here. Each time we got to a round, we talked about what the needs were, and Sam was always in that conversation. So, when we got to the fifth round, we had two picks. We just made a trade to give us two picks in the fifth, we went ahead and pulled the trigger with the first of the two."
On what he knows about Howell mentally:
"Very smart football minded young man. A little quiet in terms of that, but for the most part, his football acumen was very good."
On managing several defensive ends in the final year of their contracts:
"Well, I will tell you, they've done a great job, both of them. I think when you look at both guys coming back and their situational circumstances, so far it's what we've been hoping for. I mean, [DE] Chase [Young] looks solid. He looks good. Looks in form already. [DE] Montez [Sweat] seems to be picking up right where he left off. Both guys are in a really good place for us."
On if he has conversations with the defensive ends about being in the final year of their contracts:
"Well, I mean we will get to a certain point obviously when those conversations could occur. But right now as we're still kind of feeling our way through, especially with new ownership, those are all conversations that are still a work in progress in terms of bringing them up to speed where we are, bringing them up to speed as to what our desires are going forward. That's probably the biggest thing that we still are working through. That will be one conversation after the other, after the other. Everything from meeting in person to phone calls, zoom calls, so they understand what our plan is going forward and so we know what their feelings are on the subjects."
On how tough it was to be conservative with DE Chase Young last season coming back from his injury:
"Very, very, very tough. I mean we wanted to get him out there as soon as we could, you know. It was almost kind of a pie in the sky that he would be who he is. I mean, the truth of the matter is when the guy goes through an ACL [injury], very few guys can do what [Former RB] Adrian Peterson did. So it's just going to be a matter of time. He had to work through those things, but we were hoping he would get back soon, but it just didn't work and that's all part of it."
On what he sees from G Chris Paul working with the starters:
"Who he gets to work against. Just having him get the opportunity to work against [DT] Jonathan [Allen], work against [DT] Daron [Payne]. That's important for his growth and development as a football player for us. He's one of the young guys coupled with [G/T] Sam [Cosmi] and [G/T] Saahdiq [Charles] that we're going to count on to be part of that interior for us. And so we want to make sure he gets some work with the ones. That was one of the things that we do. We do it consciously. We've done it every year that we've been together. And so we'll continue to do that where specific guys that we know are going to get opportunities to play or that may have to play, we've got to get them work now. We're going to mix a few more guys in in the next few days as well."
On the confidence of the defense this year:
"I think they're a little more mature. I do. I think it's a group of guys now that they've been together for four years. There's a lot of confidence in what we're doing and how we do it. I think certain guys in key positions have matured and I think with that, it's okay to be confident. But again, you still got to go out and do the work. And that's the thing that these guys have to do is continue to do the work, continue to practice the way they're practicing, and then when it's time to play, play. And again, I appreciate their confidence as long as it's not coupled with immaturity. I feel pretty good about it."
On where he see's maturity in the defense:
"To say it's only on the field or out in public, no, it's when you watch them do the little things. The little things that are important. It's when they're in meetings, when they're in walkthrough and when they're in in practice. It's like watching some of the guys right now. Once practice is done and coach is done, you're done, but a couple guys want to go out and they work with each other. They talk about some of the calls and some of the techniques they can use. They work on catching the balls. These are things that are going above and beyond what we expect from them. As I walk through and I see seven, eight, nine, 10 guys still out there working together, on their own, without coaches around them, that's impressive. That's what you want from your guys and they're doing it on a voluntary basis because they think they need to work together and continue to do that. That to me is just showing maturity."
On when he saw the defense become more mature:
"I would say a year ago when we talked about what they were doing in OTAs and minicamp. You could start to see that practice would be over and the projected starting five or six DB's back there would stay and do a little extra and they do it on their own. That was promising. That gives you the confidence in them that says, okay, they get it. They're doing the things that are right. They're maturing the way you need them to. And watching the way [S] Kam Curl's doing things, that's what you need from a young man that's potentially one of your true leaders back there."
On LB Jamin Davis not being at practice today:
"He's going through the legal process and as he goes through it, we just got to be here and be supportive of him and understand that this is the legal process that he has to go through. "
On his reaction to the situation with Don Geronimo:
"I just appreciate that we're sticking to the things that we talked about that we would do. And for the most part, we made the statement about it, and I think the statement holds true to how I feel."
On what has surprised him so far:
"I think first foremost, I'm very pleased and pleasantly surprised of the way we've had the fans embrace us. I really do appreciate that. Secondly, I love the way the players have reacted to it. I think they recognize and realize just how important it is to go out there and be your best for these folks. I think that's been big. The next thing on the offensive side has been the retention. [Offensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach] Eric [Bieniemy] has thrown a lot at them and I think the guys have responded and handled it for the most part pretty well. There are some mistakes that do need to be cleared up and cleaned up . Next thing is I really do appreciate defensively, the way the guys have handled some of the tweaks and adjustments that [Defensive Coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] and them have put in. They've handled those very well. And then the whole team aspect of it, our defensive guys know our offensive guys are going through a lot right now. They're trying to learn and adapt to a new system and style. You see these guys talking to each other. You see the defensive guys explaining certain things to our offensive guys when something happens in practice. You hear them inside talk about those things, offensively and defensively together. Like I said, there's some maturity out here and I'm really excited about that. I think that's all part of the growth process that we've had to go through in what is going to be our fourth season now is that we've got to take steps. We've got to take certain kinds of steps and maturity has always been one of the things that I did talk about. I do think it is important for our guys."
On what he's focused on with pads tomorrow:
"I think part of it is now is how the intensity will wrap up and how things will speed up. It's really just about adapting to that as quick as possible. There's a certain nature that you have to have about you when you step onto the field. A certain grit and toughness that has to be developed through practicing and pads. We're going to try and do it very smart, very diligently. We'll go two days in pads, we'll back off the guys for a day, go out there in shells again, and then come back in pads for a fourth practice this week. They'll have their day off, but the idea is that we've got to work through this and we've got to develop that grit that you're going to need to play when you're in pads. I'm looking forward to the continued growing and maturing as a football team."