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Ron Rivera Presser: Chase Young had a good day, and we’ll evaluate him on Sunday

Ron Rivera speaks to the media after today’s practice

Washington Commanders v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Washington Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera and DL Coach Jeff Zgonina spoke to the media after today’s practice. Chase Young has been on the 53-man roster after being activated form injured reserve(ACL) 11 days ago. He was going to be evaluated before last week’s home game against the Falcons, but came down with an illness, as several other players have over the last few weeks. Rivera planned on ramping up his workload in practice over the last two days, and said that Young had a good day.

He will be evaluated again on Sunday morning before Washington makes a decision on getting the former Defensive Play of the Year back into an NFL for the first time in over a year. Coaches have been tempering expectations for his return, and have mentioned him being on a snap count. DC Jack Del Rio also wants him to focus on the team aspect of their defense, and help the defense continue what has helped them during their winning streaks this year.

Ron Rivera

Injury report:

Benjamin St-Juste:

“He’s getting there. He’s getting there. I mean this is a mid to high ankle sprain and it’s one of those things that it just lingers.”

Chase Young:

Finding defensive linemen:

“Not necessarily, especially what’s coming out now. When you watch a lot of these college games, it’s harder to find these big bodies to play your one technique because there’s so much throwing the ball that’s going on around the league. In college, a lot of these guys, they’ve got that mentality that they’re going vertical, that they’re getting up field, that they’re trying to make stuff happen. Rushing ends, they’re a lot of ‘em and they’re plentiful, but they’re smaller. And that’s kind of the thing you look at now. They play that three-man line, two-man hanging over and one may rush and the other one may drop or one may rush the other side and the other one may drop or they may bring ‘em both.

So it’s really just what you’re looking for. If you’re a 3-4 team, those two outside guys are great outside linebackers. Those two edge guys, the guys that play basically a three or a five or a seven, those guys are more of your defensive end types. And then what’s happening is those noses, a lot of those guys are just athletic guys and they’re guys that you gotta take a long look at and say, ‘Wow, this guy might be a good three-technique.’

So, they’re out there. It’s really what you’re looking for. Most teams, as soon as you go to 11 personnel or 10 personnel and in some cases 12, they’re going right to their four-man rushes. Which we see, like with Philadelphia is a great example. They’re a team that they see pass and that’s what they want. They want to pin their ears back and go.”

Rare that Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are playing at such a high level together?:

“Is it rare? It’s not as common. I wouldn’t say rare. I refer back to my other time when I had [former Carolina DT] Star [Lotulelei] and KK [former Carolina DT Kawann Short]. I mean that is that one-two punch when I first got here, we talked about and then we did the same thing when we talked about the running game.”

Paying Short but not Lotulelei:

“Oh yeah. The big problem with it more than anything else is it’s gonna impact your linebackers and it’s gonna impact all the way across. It really is because what happened was Star was that guy that would absorb the double teams, and hold the point so your linebackers could run and so your three-technique was typically singled up and KK made a lot of plays. But when Star wanted, Star would take it over. I mean, that’s how good he was. We’re fortunate that we have a guy that for the most part in Jonathan that is really good at both. And you have a guy in Daron who’s really good at both. So we don’t have to always try and flip one to make one to one and the other one to three, which is what we did with Star. We said, ‘Hey, we’ll make him the one and KK will be the one that flips.’ And it turned out that they’re both just as equally as valuable. It’s the lesson we learned and if I had all to do over again, I would’ve asked that if we could get em both signed.”

Stout players inside helping the edge rushers:

“Right, and that’s the beauty of having a guy with that size and that much athleticism. Then you have a guy like Casey who’s got enough athleticism, but also enough awareness that he’s gonna be a good dropper. So he can drop into coverages for us at times. James Smith-Williams can drop into coverages for us sometimes. I mean the truth of matter is we drop Sweat, but you really don’t want to drop him. I mean, you’d rather him going forward as opposed to going backwards because he’s such a good rusher.”

Daron Payne doing a better job of finishing his rushes:

“He has. I think some of the things that, that Zgonina has done with those guys and Ryan Kerrigan with those other guys too as well. You see these guys emphasizing those types of things. You see that part of it just growing for them. I mean, Ryan has done such a good job. Jack and them gave him the protections and so he does the protection stuff for our game planning days. And so, when you see it and now you listen to his experience, well that translates when he is talking to the players. And a lot of times and, and not that it makes him a better coach, but when you’re talking about voice of experience, people tend to listen a little bit. So, I think that’s what’s helped those guys. I know, Kerrigan has had a great opportunity to work with those ends and I think it’s impacting Montez, I think it really has. I think it is really helped him and you see his growth but you see it on the same with everybody else too.”

Montez Sweat:

“You see a little more of the discipline, a little more of the understanding. When he’s running certain line games or stunts, there’s a little more patience. When you watch how he works so well with each one of the tackles too and there’s a timing element that has to be done while they’re doing those extra things. They’re working on those things. They’re talking about ‘em and sometimes they get talking so much that you almost, you gotta tell ‘em to hush it down a little bit because offense is over here and you guys are making a lot of noise from, but they do and they’re enthusiastic about it. So, it’s been really good.”

John Ridgeway:

Evaluated Ridgeway coming out of the draft for the nose tackle position:

“Yes. We had a very good grade on him. When Dallas tried to sneak him through, we saw it on the wire and we put the claim in and we were one of two teams that tried to claim him.”

Surprised that Ridgeway became available:

“Yes. Those kinds of guys, they’re the kind of guys that you look for, especially guys that, like you said, he was a draft pick. And so you put a draft pick on the waivers, and everybody goes, ‘Whoa.’ Then as soon as you see the name out there, you start calling people that are gonna give you an honest answer. ‘Hey, what kind of guy is he?’ We had a young man that did an internship for us, Mark Cala, he’s at Arkansas. So we called Mark right away and asked Mark. He said, ‘Coach, he’s the kind of guy you guys want.’ So that’s all I needed to know. Mark did a great job for us and I’ve known Mark a few years. So, you ask people what kind of guy he is and he tells you it, trust me, I believed him. So, we put the claim in and we were fortunate to get him.”

Interior offensive line and Sam Cosmi playing guard:

“We think it’s pretty good. Trai’s out and we like the depth we have, but we also know that Cornelius has been playing really well and that’s why we’ve been rotating the two guys because we want Sam to play, but we also know Cornelius has played well. When this happened and I talk with Coach Matsko and talk with Scott and Travelle they all felt that Sam, this would be a real interesting thing for us to look at going forward. We got some pretty good depth. We like the young guys. We like Saadiq a lot. We like Chris Paul a lot, but we got some guys that are playing really well right now. So, the young guys will get their chances. This is what we want to try and see what we have.”

What Cosmi brings to the tackle position:

“He’s got a little more athleticism, but he’s got good strength and power and with the athleticism and understanding the leveraging and all that. He sinks his hips. He keeps his weight down. He can get into it and he can push, he’s got some athleticism to him. He’s not just a big spout guy, but he’s a guy with some athleticism.”

Was Giants defensive interior a factor in moving Cosmi to tackle:

“It’s a little bit of it, but this is also something that we have talked about”

Finishing games:

“Well, I mean, one of the things you don’t want is you don’t wanna lose sight of what’s happening in the game. And finishing game up is really not letting some of the things happened late in the games or teams come back or makes a little bit closer than you really want to. It’s just playing hard all the way through. Jon Allen said it really well after the Texans game. We had such a thing going and we had such a good performance in the first half, we could have easily finished it off and maybe they don’t score a touchdown, so that’s kind of some of the things that you look at.”

Jeff Zgonina

Daron Payne:

“Just to find a little details. Three years now that I’ve been here with him, every year he buys in more, which most players do. Now, he is getting to the point where he understands his strengths and his weaknesses and works at those every day. So just his maturity level has been phenomenal. His pass rush has really come on this year and he’s finishing. He’s finishing and that was one thing he didn’t do last year or the year before. Couldn’t finish. He got there but didn’t know how to finish. Now he does, that’s why he’s is playing so well.”

Teaching that:

“We do little things and it’s just mostly showing him where he needs to lean in more. Do a second move, keep going, stay this path, use what God gave him. Cause everybody’s different. Every player is different. Every guy’s a different move. And just having ‘em buy into a move and a counter. The great pass rushers have throughout NFL history, they had their move and they had a counter. Reggie [White] had the hump. JT had the long arm, and they had a counter off of it. You stop it, okay, I’m gonna on my counter. And he’s done that. He’s had success. Every once in a while he goes outside the box and I say, see big fella. And he smiles and then he goes back to himself. That’s his maturity that he’s developed. I think that’s the main point that he’s done this year, is just matured more and believes in himself.”

Maturity helping guys inside to learn:

“Oh yeah. I mean they’re all gifted, right? You know, it’s just a matter of finding what gifts they excel at the most and get ‘em to believe in it, to show other guys doing it. Cuz some guys can do the same things. And then, for me as a coach, the gratification is when they do it and they have success and they light up like a Christmas tree. That’s my victory. Not that I can’t play anymore, but that’s my victory is watching them get happy and be talking and laughing on the side cuz they’re having success. Yes they can have it and they get it and then they keep growing from it.”

The moment it clicked:

“Every game good and bad. You know, they know. They know when they come to the sidelines, if they screwed something up, I don’t have to say anything. Payne will smile. I’ve got you coach. I didn’t even look at the tablet yet. I mean, he knows what I expect of him and I don’t expect of him. Like I said, you went outside the box. There it is. You know Jon, he’ll say something, I go, you sure about that? I didn’t even look at the tablet yet. Cause he’ll try to set it up like it’s something else. Cause like, get me off the scent right? I go right to it. And he’s like, I know, I know. So they’ve matured that way. They all know each other. They feel each other just in our pass rush this year is more them doing games together and playing off each other. We’re just a tight unit right now and it’s because they enjoy playing with each other.”

Interior linemen helping Montez Sweat:

“Well, yeah, quarterback can’t step up. He’s gotta get out. He’s gotta stay back in the pocket. It takes longer for those edge guys to get there. And you know, like I said the last time we met, he’s gonna get his numbers and they’re starting to come. Just a matter once you break through and now he’s knows how to get there. Now he’s finishing. It’s constant. It’s just, you’re lucky sometimes. It’s not that you just beat a guy.”

Sweat vs the run:

“He’s very long and he can set an edge. Like he’s one of the better edge setters in the league right now, if not one of the best. I mean for being so tall, he plays with great leverage, and he’s got a punch when I do the drills with him and he hits that little bag I hold. I mean you can feel it now, you know? And I know he is not going full speed like every once in a while, those guys take it personal and I was say, whoa, that’s a little personal there buddy. I am 52 now. But he’s got a good feel for it, and he plays low for a tall man. He’s got good bend and like I said, he is got long arms and when he gets them in there, man, it’s, it’s pretty special.”

Chase Young:

“In that it’s every day. He’s in the meetings every day, so it’s always going to be the same. It’s like he knows he’s gonna fit in like everybody else. It’s like James or Casey out there or Efe or Shaka. It doesn’t change. It’s the chemistry. That’s our room. That’s how we’re built. It’s not like we are bringing in a guy off the street and you got to fit him in. Chase’s been here for three years now. It’s nothing new. It’s just another tool. That’s all it is.”

Young’s mental hurdle:

“Yeah, I mean with anybody, when you come off in injury, when I came off of injuries, you are gonna have that. Can I, can’t I, can I, every day. You’re working through it, you’re getting back in shape. He hasn’t done anything in a year. I mean, yeah, he’s done rehab and he does his workouts, he does his conditioning, but it’s not football. You know, it’s not Sunday afternoon, putting your hand in the dirt. It’s different. You know, you can practice all week even if you’re not hurt, you practice all week. Sundays are different. Completely different than anything else. You can’t prepare for Sunday because you got all the adrenaline, you’re going against someone you don’t know. It’s just different. And I can really talk to ‘em as a veteran who played the game. Ryan does the same thing. We try to help him. He’ll get over the hump and he’ll be ready to roll.”

Swat and tip drills:

Yeah, like I said on the sidelines, way to go, you’re taking the drill to the field and the guys started laughing. They don’t want to hear that. You took the volleyball to the field buddy. But no, that’s why you do drills. That’s why you practice to hone your craft. And it comes from muscle memory second nature match to hand your hand goes up. And I’ve done that my whole career as a player and I teach the guys that. You make a lot of plays. I know there’s a guy, J.J., early in his career in Houston. I mean he was batting a lot of balls. They did that in practice. I know they did. I knew the guy that coached him. He coached me almost my whole career and we did those drills and he was a defensive player of the year, what, three times? And a lot of ‘em were batting pbu’s now. I mean he had some pbu’s and he still does.”

Ryan Kerrigan helping the pass rush:

“And I said in the beginning, to have Ryan in the room with me is a blessing for me. He’s an elite, legit pass rusher. I mean he’s got a lot of sacks and he’s got different eyes than I do which helps me because yeah, I was an interior guy and I’ve coached the outside guys. But to hear him talk to the ends and their vision is some things that I never really thought of and even take some of that into the inside too. So he’s taught those guys what to look for, how to react to certain things and you know, from the tackle and everything, he’s sharpened up what I’ve told those guys, you know, and it just for he and it’s been a good working relationship. And for the guys, they’re getting the results.”

Viewing moves in different ways than Kerrigan:

“I always ask him, I say, okay dude, if I do this to this guy, what’s the counter? What do you think? And then he’ll say, well, he is soft in the shoulder on the inside or outside. It’s more of like, we collaborate more than we ever disagree. We haven’t really had any disagreements about technique or anything, you know, or anything else for that matter. So it’s just another way of, I’ll say, okay, how do you see this? Because these guys are saying this, how do you see this? Because this is how I see it. He goes, yeah, but I would think more of this, because he’s been out there. Again, when you’re out there it’s all about the eyes and I believe in it. Because for me in the inside it was all about my eyes. Where my eyes got to be for each snap, each personnel, each motion, blah, blah blah blah. My eyes’ got to be a certain spots so I know what’s coming. So I asked him because my eyes were never out there. I was out there a little bit, didn’t like it, couldn’t see over half the tackles, you know. Whereas he was out there, plus he was standing up the majority of his career. So he saw everything. So I’m always asking, where did your eyes go when this block came? Was it the hip, was it the neck, was it this or that? So he sharpened me on it and he teaches those guys because it’s second nature to him. You know, sometimes I’ll have to pause like, let me see that again. Okay, we are hitting, boom, like that not like the inside. He’s like me on the outside, you know? Cause he’s learning how to do the inside because he’s never been in there and it’s a whole different animal in there. It’s faster, it’s tighter, the windows are smaller, but your eyes got to be here, that’s it’s all it is. Once you get that down, as the guys have, you play pretty fast. It’s easy.”

Focus on the shield:

“Well you know that little emblem right here, the little shield that the NFL’s so proud of that you can’t beat because the shield will always win. Wherever that shield goes, that body goes, it’s taped down, it’s a tight jersey. Wherever it goes, the head can go this way, the shield goes that way. You just stare at that shield. It will take you to wherever you need to go. Same as a hip for the end. Wherever his hip goes, this little joint muscle that body’s going, I promise you. You look at that playing a five technique, comes at me. I step out, comes down, I go off the hip. It’s not going to lie to you.”

Practice Updates

Benjamin St-Juste:

Carson Wentz:

Injured players:

Antonio Gibson: