Training camp is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its second season under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.
Ryan Fitzpatrick sees the Washington Football Team as a franchise that's heading in the right direction; it's why he decided to join Ron Rivera’s squad, and it isn't just because of what he's seen on the field, either.
Performance is certainly something Rivera has stressed to his team over the past two seasons. It helped them finish the season on a 5-2 run. But qualities like character and leadership have been preached upon as well, and just like young talent, there's a surplus of both those traits on the roster.
"It's important when you've got your pillars of the program, that they're the guys that are out here putting in the extra work," Fitzpatrick told Joe Theismann. "They're the guys that are out in the community or showing up early to meetings."
Players are naturally going to follow Fitzpatrick. He's the quarterback, after all, and that's a role that lends itself to leadership. But Washington also has an abundance of young leaders on both sides of the ball, including Chase Young and Terry McLaurin. And with both of them ending the season as captains, it's clear they have the attention of their teammates.
It's crazy unusual, said Alex Smith last season, for Young, then a rookie, to be such a vocal leader. When he's not on the field, he's roaming the sideline encouraging both his offensive and defensive teammates. Steven Montez was on the receiving end of such positive reinforcement during the first day of pads, when Young was praising him for delivering what he called a dart to Kelvin Harmon.
Of course Young backs it up on the field, too, and all the while, rookies like Will Bradley-King, who modeled his game after Young in college, absorb everything they see from the former Defensive Rookie of the Year.
"It's amazing how, just by actions, not even necessarily words, all these young guys just sit and watch, and they follow your habits," Fitzpatrick said.
On offense, McLaurin has been the poster boy for being a professional and been rewarded for it. In addition to having one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history, he improved in nearly every category and recorded his first 1,000-yard season.
McLaurin has proven himself as one of the better young receivers, but Fitzpatrick named one characteristic that he doesn't normally pair with other top wideouts: selflessness. And it's a great example for his teammates to follow.
"He's a great team guy," Fitzpatrick said. "He's a fun guy to have in the locker room. He's out here cheering other guys on when they're making plays. And it takes a load off the quarterback a little bit for your best receiver to be a guy that wants the ball but also is happy about the success of the team."
Washington is still a young roster, and now there are 10 draft picks on the roster trying to have a productive start to their careers. With players like Fitzpatrick, Young and McLaurin showing them the way, they have a solid model for how to achieve that.
"We've got some great guys to be examples for them," Fitzpatrick said.