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.
The conclusion of training camp is always a difficult time for coaches. They have to trim down their rosters to 53 players and inform those who didn't make the cut that they won't be part of the team's plans. It's an unfortunate, but necessary part of the job.
Like everything in the NFL, there are layers involved in every decision. Making plays is certainly a contributing factor, but that doesn't always guarantee a spot. For Scott Turner and the rest of Washington's staff, who are believers in "process over results," players are evaluated on their entire body of work, rather than flashy plays.
"Just overall kind of doing things the way that they're supposed to be done," Turner said. "You might get results doing something the wrong way. But that's not a long-term situation and a long-term situation for success."
Ron Rivera was honest about the status of Washington's roster ahead of Tuesday's final cut day. This year is going to be tough, because the current iteration is more talented than the one in 2020. Positions like receiver, safety and cornerback are full of players who could help the team. Rivera wants to make the best possible decision for the team, so the finite details about each player matters.
Take the receiver position as an example. There are multiple external conditions that dictate whether or not they make a play. Quarterbacks have to be looking in their direction, and the offensive line has to provide protection so plays aren't rushed. They might be getting separation, but if one or either of those don't work in their favor, they might not get any catches.
On those plays, Turner and the coaches are looking at other factors, such as how receivers are running the routes and whether they're using the proper techniques. With the final preseason game days away, those will carry even more weight.
"We'll get an opportunity to really watch to see if they get it," Rivera said. "That's what we're looking for. We're looking for guys that are going to take advantage of these opportunities, make plays, make things happen and handle the situations and opportunities."
Preseason games aren't the only opportunities for evaluations, but there are certain things the team can't replicate in practice. The fan will be cheering, and there are no do-overs once the game begins. Turner and the coaches are eager to see how players handle it.
"It's not quite the regular season, but...all of a sudden, the lights are on, and you're in the game setting, and there's not any coaches on the field," Turner said. "And some guys, it's a little bit too much for them. So how do they handle those situations, that's kind of the next test for a guy when they're coming up."
There is still time for players on the bubble to earn a spot, but Saturday's game is the last, best opportunity to do so. How they handle it will help the coaches determine if they have earned the right to be part of the team in September.