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Ron Rivera | 'Very pleased with what we saw out there'

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Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media on July 26. Here's a full transcript of his press conference.

On what he thought about how the first practice went:
"I liked the tempo first and foremost. I thought the guys picked up right where they left off from OTAs and minicamp. I thought the energy was what we needed. It's one of those things that you're trying to see if their retention is where it needs to be as well. And there were some really good things going on out there. So, not a lot of mistakes, that's a good thing. We'll see how they are in about three or four days when they get a little tired, a little fatigued to see how they handle it. But for today, very pleased with what we saw out there."

On day one with QB's Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett:
"Well, I'll be honest, I thought all three guys did some good things, made some good decisions out there. The one thing that's impressive is really how the defense really picked things up right back to where they were. I mean, defense had a good day today, put a lot of pressure on our receivers in the route running and put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks. I thought the quarterbacks handled that pretty well. Just a lot of good things that we can build from. And again, as far as the quarterbacks are concerned, I'm happy with what we saw initially."

On working for new ownership and what it is like:
"Well, I think the biggest thing is you handle everything and show them that everything's basically normal. It's what you do and how you do it. For us, it's really about coming out, practicing, practicing with the right tempo, being organized, having guys in place. Yeah, it is a bit of an audition, but at the same time, I can't worry so much about that as much as getting this football team ready to play."

On the balance this offseason between focusing on the new ownership process and getting the team ready:
"Well, I think a big part of it was it was always in the conversation. It was always something that would come up at one point or another. Again, understandable. For me, that's the distraction part. That's the part that you try to get past and stick to what is really important and it is about getting this football team ready. For the most part, also having to worry about how the coaching staff sees things, how our operations people think and see things. How our support group sees things. That's some of the things that I have to deal with and answer or I had to and now that, you know, everything is kind of settled, the dust has settled, we know where everybody is, what's gonna happen and who the folks are. I like the situation. The circumstances I think are very good for us."

On what stood out to him about Managing Partner Josh Harris' philosophy:
"I think first and foremost, I really appreciate talking about the culture building. It's something that I was brought here to do. It aligns very well with the message that we've been trying to get across to our players. I love the fact that he talked about inclusive and equity and being an equal opportunity. I think that's important too, that people understand that from where we are to where we're going, we still have a lot of work to do. We're gonna take it one day at a time. But having somebody that's come in and said, 'Hey, we're making the commitment to being supportive, giving you the tools that you guys need going forward.' That is a very positive sign for us."

On if anything surprised him today:
"No. I was really pleased with it. I think we picked up from where we left off when in OTAs and minicamps with the tempo. I thought the guys practiced at a good tempo. I said earlier, we'll see how they are in three or four days of it. When it gets a little bit hotter, practices get a little bit longer because you know, this is a 90-minute practice. The next one will be 105, then 120. And then from there we'll just keep going. So right now, I think it's in a good spot. I like the way the guys came back. One of the things we talked about yesterday too is about their retention. I liked how the guys picked up right where we left off. A lot of positives."

On having the rookies report to camp earlier:
"Well, you know, it was one of the things that we wanted to do when I first got here because you got a lot of new things to introduce to everybody, and you wanted to give the young guys an opportunity to settle in and then work with the rest of the guys. We couldn't because of the pandemic. So, bringing in [Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator] Eric [Bieniemy] and knowing that there's gonna be a lot of new things. We wanted to give those young guys an opportunity to get on board. Secondly, with our first and second round picks also being on the defensive side, we wanted them to get a little bit of a jump as well and get acclimated. Having those guys out here for the first three days I think was very helpful for them and very helpful for us as far as coaches because we got back into the swing a little bit." 

On how DE Chase Young looked at practice today: 
"I was very pleased with it. I mean, he had a good offseason, I do know that. I followed him on social media and every now and then, he'd send me a little text to show me what he's been doing. Like I said yesterday too, one of the nice things was I know he went back and saw his old coach, his college coach, Coach [Larry] Johnson who he's got a tremendous relationship with. I know they worked on some of his things too as well, so he showed up ready to roll as were most of our guys. I think our guys came back in great shape and as I said, I was really pleased with the tempo in which they practice with."

On how it was having Josh Harris out at practice today:  
"It was very cool. He wanted to come in and we talked about the best opportunity to be the first practice with the whole team. He will speak with them later today as well, during one of our team meetings. It'll be an opportunity for them to hear from him specifically on what his vision is and what the standard will be and what the expectations are. That's one of the things I've really appreciated in my conversations with Mr. Harris and his partnership group. They've all been great in terms of our conversations and just listening to what the standard is and what the expectations are."  

On what the team can do during the record heat to keep players cool: 

"Well, one of the things is we do the water breaks and the longer practices will start going, the more breaks we'll have. We'll increase those. We'll hold the guys a little bit longer. You know, we have a cooling tent out there. If anybody starts to feel it, we'll send them into the tent to try and keep them down. We're constantly trying to get them to hydrate and get them focusing on hydrating prior to practice and post practice, so we're really trying to stay ahead of that. Last year it got us. Last year was one of the hottest summers that this area has ever recorded, I guess in a long time. We had something like 10 straight days over a hundred and so we were trying to stay proactive. Stay ahead of it, so we don't have the soft tissue injuries we had last year."

On Young no longer wearing his knee brace and that being a step in his recovery:  
"Yes, absolutely because it's the same thing. If you look at Logan [Thomas]'s brace is off and that's the next progression, I guess, when you go through a knee injury. I was fortunate I didn't have one but just seeing these guys and seeing how spry they look right now and just bouncing around, it's pretty exciting. It really is."

On the opportunity that Howell has to impress the new ownership group and the staff: 
"I think it's a great opportunity. I mean, anytime the owner's out there, you know, you get an opportunity for whoever you are to step up and show them what you can and can't do. I think that's a good thing. I think it's a very good plus. You know, Jacoby [Brissett] had a good day as well and in fact all three of the quarterbacks did. I thought Jake [Fromm] had a good day as well but you know, it is an opportunity for us. Anytime the ownership's around is to show them what we do and what we're capable of." 

On the vibe in the building being different due to the new ownership group:  
"I don't think it's the sole reason. I think it's all part of it. It's all part of the excitement. Tomorrow should be even better with the opening of the stands and us having our fan base here. I think it's gonna be dynamic and electric. I'm excited about it. I really am. I think our players will feed off of it as they fed off today. You know, having Mr. Harris, having [Washington Commanders Limited Partner] Mr. [Mitchell] Rales here and the players knowing they were here, I think really helps add to that and so tomorrow I'm excited to see it. Mr. Harris will be here again tomorrow, as will some more of the partnership will be here, so it is an opportunity for our fan base and our players to really kind of get a little bit of interaction going. It should be fun."

On if there is a lot of energy during camp does he have to remind the players that it is not game time yet:  
"Oh yeah, we do. I promise you the first guy you guys will hear, and somebody told me they heard him. You will hear Chase [Young], that's for sure."

On bringing in a second kicker:  
"We're looking for competition is what we're looking for. You know, Mike [Badgley]'s kicked in this league. He was a hundred percent last year in extra points. I think he was 24-of-28 field goal attempts and a couple of his misses were from 50 yards, so he's got a record. He's a very accomplished player, so I'm expecting competition. I'm expecting to bring the best out of our guys. I mean, that's what we're expecting. That's what we're expecting Jacoby [Brissett] and Sam [Howell] to do is push each other so we can get the best out of him and again, everything is going forward. I mean, this is an exciting time for us. You know, it's a change. It's an opportunity for us to go forward."

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