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Ron Rivera Presser: We still need to see some stuff, but Antonio Gibson is the top kick returner going into the season

Ron Rivera speaks to reporters after Washington’s last full preseason practice

The Washington Commanders held their last full preseason practice before the team travels north to take on the Baltimore Ravens. This game is the last opportunity for several players to earn their spot on the 53-man roster, and they will be facing a team that treats preseason like a regular season game. Saturday will be a big game for rookie QB Sam Howell, and he is expected to get a lot of playing time.

Rivera was asked about Antonio Gibson at kick returner, and he sounded pretty pleased with the move. Washington’s return game has been woeful in the preseason, and Gibson is likely going to take the job when the season starts next month. Wes Martin made his return to Washington via a waiver wire claim from their Week 1 opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rivera is glad to have him back after he was poached off of their practice squad by the New York Giants last season. Rivera called it a depth move for a player with position flex that they like a lot.

Final message to players before preseason finale vs the Ravens:

“Just make sure you’re ready more so than anything else. I mean, this is an example of opportunities for young guys to really show us what they’re capable of. There’s two pre-season games of tape for them to watch. There’s an opportunity to get to know who their opponent is. I would like to hope and believe that love these guys are doing the extra things that they need to give themselves the opportunity to play their best.”

Cutting players:

“I really don’t get used to it. I’m not a big fan of it, but you know, that’s what I got to do on the final cut. A lot of these young men will get opportunities here or elsewhere and for some of ‘em, it is the end the line. But these guys came in they’ve given you everything, they have, they given you their best and hopefully for some of it’ll be good enough. For others, it’s just not their opportunity.”

Carson Wentz’s timing with Terry McLaurin:

“I thought yesterday was a pretty good show of it. I think he and Terry connected for a couple of really big throws. Some timing things for that matter were perfect and some of the throws that he made led him right into good catches. So, it’s starting to come pretty well.”

Antonio Gibson kick returns:

“Antonio was getting more and more comfortable. When you watch it on tape, you see him circling the ball, getting under it, making a good catch and you know, it’s something he did well in college and we’re pretty excited having him do it.”

Antonio Gibson KR1?:

“I think you still need to see some more stuff, but you know, I think he is. I do. I think he’s done a nice job.”

Claiming Wes Martin on waivers:

“Well, it’s a depth thing, but last year, you know, we lost Wes because he got plucked off our practice squad and he’s somebody that we really do like because of the position flex. He’s a very smart football player. He’s stout at the point and he’s a guy that we really do like and again, we didn’t want to lose him last year and here’s an opportunity to bring him back into the fold. He’s a guy that we think, you know, has some abilities.”

Life transitions:

“A lot of times, if we get into a conversation, I always talk about I’ve been through it. I understand it. And the biggest thing I did was just say okay, now it was time to take a step back and see what I wanted to do next and really contemplate it. And, you know, when it was time to call it a career, call it a career. If it wasn’t, you felt like you really want to give it another shot, then just stay ready.”

Saahdiq Charles:

“Saahdiq’s had a pretty good camp. It’s a lot to ask a guy to work all three of those positions, but he’s done a nice job at it. And position flex for a guy is important and he’s still a young guy still developing and growing. But the more he knows, I think the better he’ll help him in his game.”

Cole Turner injury affecting the regular season:

“So anything else and, and speed more ways than one, because as I said yesterday, we had a couple of young guys that, you know, against Carolina, the speed really caught them off guard. But then you see them pick it up in the Kansas City [Chiefs] game. So with Cole, what you hope is that he gets it already and he’s going to play fast and be used to everybody else playing fast around him.”

Sam Howell vs the Ravens:

“I like to see him continue with his preparation, the way he’s paid attention, and the way he’s getting into things. He’s always done that but now is an opportunity because he’s going to play a lot, to take a little more time, spend a little bit more time, and really get a chance to look. As I said earlier, there are a couple of games of tape that he can watch and get something out of it and learn a little bit about his opponent even more so. Again, it is probably part of his habits anyways, but this will be a good chance for him to kind of show us that he knows how to do it.”

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