Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera addressed the media after practice on Aug. 16. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.
On what he told the team after practice:
"Well, biggest thing I told 'em is you don't have to get a little bit out of control to be successful and have a good work week. Thought they did some really good things today. Really pleased with a lot of the positives, a lot of the pluses. But, you know, we didn't need the fighting and that was one of my biggest messages, guys, you gotta go out there and play football. You gotta perform, do your job, do what you're supposed to. All that other stuff's not important. It doesn't help us win football games. Just wanted to make sure they understand that. I think part of our thing is just understanding how to be a mature football team, and I think that's important. We've shown some good growth, some good maturity, but this was a good test to just understand what it takes to be really good."
On what he told the team following the skirmish in the first part of practice:
"I told 'em to behave. I just told 'em, you know, I hate it. I really do. I hate it when I played, it didn't make sense to me. It really didn't because all it does is get in the way of practice and we wasted some time that that could have been used to get those reps that we needed. That was really the message about all that stuff more than anything else."
On his evaluation of the first team offensive line:
"I thought they did hold their own. I really did. You know, that's a good football team that they go up against. They got a tremendous scheme and I thought our guys handled it. I thought they adjusted really well to some of the things that went on. We got beat a couple times, but a couple times we did some really good things that we could really hang our hat on. A lot of improvement. Very pleased with the play of the quarterbacks. I thought [QB] Sam [Howell] did a great job. You know, this is one of the things that we talked about, how important that these two days would be in our evaluation process, and there's a lot of questions we wanted answered and yesterday's tape I was really pleased with for not just the quarterbacks, but for him specifically as well. He did some really good things. Threw some real good balls. His ball placement, his accuracy was what we needed. Decision making was very plus. So again, I'm looking forward to watching the tape with [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator] Eric [Beiniemy] and [QB Coach] Tavita [Pritchard] and really get a chance to evaluate him again after yesterday's practice."
On if he's ready to name a starting QB:
Well, again, I said I gotta sit down with both Eric and Tavita and really evaluate it and make sure he's doing the things that we need him to do. And yesterday he had a really good day. We're really pleased with it after having to watch the tape and we'll see how it is after we get a chance to watch this tape together. We're traveling today, so we'll sit down tomorrow and go through it and talk about Sam and really just evaluate that and evaluate [QB] Jacoby [Brissett] as well. I mean, Jacoby did some really good things too, so we feel really comfortable about the quarterback room right now."
*On if he saw Howell take an even bigger step towards being the starter following the practices against Baltimore: *"I think that's one of the things that we were hoping is that when we got out here and the stuff was pretty close to real, see how he handled it and he handled it well and he made some real good decisions. As I said, his ball placement was really good. His decision making was exceptionally good and he delivered on time for the most part. When he went off platform, scrambled around a little bit, his eyes were downfield. He was able to find guys and make those kind of throws and plays that you need to, to help the team keep going forward."
*On what he needs to see from Howell to become the starting QB: *"Well, I think it's continue what he's shown. The command in the huddle. Get to the line of scrimmage, handle those things that go on. Put us in the right protections, make the right signals and calls to the receivers, and then go out and execute, which we've seen. And he did it well in the first preseason game, he's done it well throughout camp. Probably the biggest thing that I'm really pleased about has been his decision making and that has been a big plus. So we'll get a chance to evaluate tomorrow after we get back and get a chance to settle back into Ashburn and then we'll go from there."
On if there is a time during the joint practices that Howell's decision making stood out to him:
"I think today was a really good indication because there was a lot of emotion out there and he had to stay cool and remain cool and calm and kind of exude that to his teammates to get them refocused and practice. And that's probably the most important thing is you lead your guys through situations like that, it shows and it kind of showed today. I was really pleased with that."
On how Howell refocused the team:
"I think part of it is his demeanor and part of it is some of the words he uses. I mean he's very selective. He's very direct to certain guys. He'll come up and say some things. It's not broad for the most part. So when he gets into the huddle though, there is a calmness about him."
On which tight ends have stood out while TE Logan Thomas has been sidelined:
"I'll tell you right now, I've been very pleased with what I've seen from John Bates. I thought he blocked extremely well. And then as a guy coming out late after chipping or blocking, he presents a really nice target, made a couple of big catches today. That really kind of showed the kind of check down he can be for the quarterbacks."
On how TE/FB Alex Armah's position flexibility helps the offense:
"Absolutely, absolutely. And on special teams as well. I mean he's a four-phase guy, but you know, when you have the flexibility that if something were to happen to that position, he could go outside and do that and then come back in and play fullback. That's a big plus for him and again, it'll be all part of the discussion when we get time to get down to cut down time. I know what you're trying to do."
*On the status of T/G Saahdiq Charles: *"We shut Saahdiq down during practice. He was feeling it a little bit, so we just kind of sat him it down just to be careful."
On the status of T Charles Leno Jr.:
"We rested Charles at the end. That was done consciously to get him off the field."
On DE Andre Jones Jr.:
"Wow, he's a dynamic young man. He's got some explosion off the edge. He's got a lot to learn in terms of technique and the scheme itself, but his talent and his abilities did flash, did show. So he's a guy that we gotta pay a little extra attention to this week."
*On if DE Andre Jones Jr. has exceeded expectations: *"Yes he has. We thought this would be one of those learning things and he seems to be assimilating very nicely, but as I said, he's still got some more things to learn."
On what he made of Howell's 11-on-11 portions of practice:
"They ran a couple pressures against us in the first couple of plays and we were a little rough there, but then as they settled down, I thought Sam handled it very well. I thought Sam got out of the pocket a couple times off platform and threw some really good balls downfield. I thought that was really good to see."