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Ron Rivera | 'This is a very good challenge for us'


Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media on Dec. 11. Here is a full transcript of his press conference.

On where QB Sam Howell can grow these last four games:
"Well, for the most part, it was a productive week of self-scout. But the biggest thing we got to see in terms of watching what Sam has done and some of the things that he's improved on you start seeing his footwork has been really good. Couple things it's just a little more confidence in stepping up and with those eyes downfield consistently, when he's done that he's been very, very effective and he has created some really good opportunities for himself downfield. Secondly, continuing to grow in helping with setting the protections and making the checks in terms of reading the pressures that are coming and then again, decision making and getting the ball out quickly. I mean, he's done a great job with all of that. As he continues to develop with that, that's going to really help and really, it's going to take some of the extra pressure off of him by making those decisions quicker."

On LB Jamin Davis's injury:
"It happened during the [Miami] game and he came off for a second, they checked him, and he said he was fine. He went back out there, finished the game, but he was still having a little bit of trouble the next morning. So, they examined him and then they felt that he needed to get an MRI. After getting the MRI, they got a second opinion and then it went from there. So, it was unfortunate. Young man's done a great job for us and [I'm] really excited about who he was becoming as a football player. Playing the WILL linebacker for us, he's done a great job. He had to play a little bit of the MIKE [linebacker] in some of the situations when [LB] Cody [Barton] was down, but that's all part of his growth and learning, and he's done a nice job."

On where Davis has grown this season:
"I think a big part of it is as a WILL linebacker, playing that position and being able to read and get downhill, watching him run through and make plays, watching him in his coverage. He got the tough assignment having to cover a lot of really good backs. He was competitive doing that, he really was. Again, the more he played, the better he seemed to get. Sure, he made some mistakes, but man, he was really coming along and it's unfortunate. So, he'll get it taken care of and then we'll go from there."

On what he accomplished over the Bye Week:
"Well, without getting into the X's and O's of some of the things, it was really good. An opportunity to see some things. Now, getting ready for these last four games, this last stretch, it is all about now playing well, playing fast, and working to win football games."

On reaffirming the mental toughness of the team in the last four games:
"Yeah, to a degree, it is most certainly, that's what it's all about. I mean, it really is a little bit of a test. It has to be a one game mentality, it has to be about coming in and being a professional and doing what a professional does. That's is come to work, work hard, develop, and then get out there and give your best."

On how much Davis has shown and on how much more he can grow:
"I think he still has a lot of room to grow. I really do. Just because coming out of college, he had the one really good year and it was more of a process of him developing and learning to do the things that it takes to be at this level. He's really kind of taken a step each year. This year, I thought he took a really big step, especially working with Cody. I thought he and Cody developed a really good rapport. And unfortunately, like I said, we lost Cody for four weeks. But Jamin stepped in and was able to work and then do some of the stuff that the MIKE linebacker typically does. But then when Cody got back and you started to watch the two of them playing together, you could really see him start to get comfortable at the WILL position again. Those are things that are important as far as what he does and that is he's an athletic, physical guy that can run."

On injury updates for DE James Smith-Williams, S Darrick Forrest, G/T Saahdiq Charles, C Ricky Stromberg and CB Emmanuel Forbes Jr.:

"Okay. As far as Forbes is concerned, he had a good week of rehab and then he was off and he was doing his rehab stuff as well. He'll be evaluated through practice this week, as will James Smith-Williams for the most part. Stromberg had the surgery, so he'll still be down for a while. As far as DFo [Darrick Forrest] is concerned, this is one of those things he's got to be reevaluated by the doctors. We'll go from there. Saahdiq, we're going to check in on him tomorrow and see where he is, and then we'll go from there."

On DT Daron Payne and DT Jonathan Allen not being as statistically productive and on if he agrees that they have lacked production this year:

"I think what's happening in the interior obviously is in especially the last few weeks there's been a lot of attention paid to them. That's been tough. They really have had to fight through a lot, be competitive, while enduring several extra blockers. That's kind of how things are on the inside for those two guys. Now, they've tried to hold up and hold the point and do a great job for us, and they just continue to work hard at it."

On if Stromberg is out for the year:

"It looks like it, obviously because of the surgery and it's unfortunate. The young man has showed that he has the tools that you're looking for. A big, stout, physical guy. Very smart, intelligent football player. He showed that to us and unfortunately got hurt playing. That was a tough one because between he and [C] Tyler Larsen, I felt we could have been very, very stout up front for the remainder of the year."

On how big the Bye Week was to reset and approach the final four games:

"I think it's going to be really good. I look forward to seeing the players tomorrow. We had a few in today, but for the most part, they'll all be back on Tuesday. We'll have meetings in the morning, a quick walkthrough in terms of those things just to get them going. They'll spend a little time on the field with strength and conditioning. They'll go through some of their conditioning just to get them reacclimated to practice. Hopefully they didn't take too much time off, but it was good to see the guys that were in today, it really was. I think for the coaches it was refreshing. We got a chance to go back, reevaluate, look at some of the things, and look at the things that we did well, and some of the things that we need to get better at. So, it was really a good [break], it came out, unfortunately, a little bit later. I'd love to have seen it a little bit earlier in the year, but it was good for us."

On if RB Brian Robinson Jr. will practice this week:

"We'll see him tomorrow and, again, he'll be reevaluated, and we'll see. He should be ready to go for practice and I'm anticipating that, but we'll see everybody again tomorrow."

On facing the Los Angeles Rams this week:
You'd love to see our guys come out and really just play to their abilities, do the things that they're capable of. I think this is a very good challenge for us just because it is a team that is fighting for their playoff life. The big thing that we have to do is just go out and play our game."

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