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Ron Rivera Presser: The expectations are high for Jamin Davis; He plays hard, but needs to play smarter

Ron Rivera speaks to the media after practice

Washington Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera spoke to the media today for the last time before the team travels to play the Lions on Sunday. The team released their injury report before the presser and listed Kam Curl(thumb) and Wes Schweitzer(hamstring) as questionable. Rivera said that Curl’s cast wouldn’t prevent him from playing this week. He said Curls progress has been gradual, and Curl told reporters earlier in the week that it was about the ligaments in his surgically-repaired thumb healing.

Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio made headlines yesterday by calling out 2nd-year starting LB Jamin Davis for his so-so play in the season opener vs the Jaguars. Rivera had talked about not putting the young LB in a situation where he’s covering a quick slot WR like Jacksonville’s Christian Kirk. Del Rio said Davis had a good training camp, but didn’t play that well last Sunday. Rivera didn’t dispute that when asked about the comments today.

Rivera said the expectations for Davis are high, especially after watching him improve during the offseason. Davis plays hard, but he needs to play smarter. Rivera said he needs to focus on the details and rely on the techniques that have been taught to him when big games and moments happen. He said Davis has to fall back on his technique when excitement is high during a game. Film study is also something Davis needs to continue working with to improve his overall game.

Ron Rivera

Injury report:

Kam Curl:

Curl’s cast prevent him from playing?:

“No, that won’t prevent him. Again, out here he’s not gonna stick his hand out right now. But, it’ll become a natural reaction when he is on the field.”

Curl’s progress:

“It’s been gradual. I’m not the doctor, but it’s been gradual and we’ll see how he is.”

Jamin Davis:

“Well, I think we know that Jack’s honest and it’s an honest assessment. You know, the guy did have a really good training camp. He played very well and we would like to see him play better. I don’t disagree with it. Jamin played hard. He gave a great effort, but let’s play smarter. Let’s understand that we gotta use our techniques. I talked about it. We put him in a tough position, but we think he can do it. Now, use the technique and make that guy go up and around. Don’t lose your leverage. Those are the things that I think Jack was a little frustrated with because he had a good camp and he did play well.”

Having a good camp but struggling in the first game:

“I think a little bit of a combination of things probably. Going up against somebody a little bit different, some things that you anticipate certain things happening, but something else happens. Well, then you’ve gotta react and fall back to your techniques and he didn’t. But that tells us that we’ve gotta continue to work with him and continue to put him in positions where he can have success.”

What prevented Davis from transferring those techniques to the field?:

“The excitement of the game. The way things happen, and it’s gonna happen. And it’s a thing where you just continue to rep it, continue to work it and continue to develop your craft and your skill.”

Techniques preventing Davis from excelling?:

“I think that was probably the biggest thing. If you sit there and you watch him, he backs up a little bit, opens up the underneath and the guy takes it. Now, if he pops his feet, stays active, plants that inside leg, and forces him up over the top, that’s exactly what we’re hoping to get out of that situation. It’s just, those are little detail things that you’ve gotta continue to develop and grow as a player. And at that point, that would’ve been a good opportunity to show the growth that we’re looking for and expecting from him.”

Expectations:

“The expectations are higher. You know what I’m saying? And those are our expectations. So, our expectations shouldn’t be higher than his. He should be wanting to be perfect every time. We just wanna make sure he understands and again, I have no issue with what Jack [Del Rio] said, because again first of all, it’s just his honest assessment. Secondly, I agree with him. I agree that the young man had a good camp and I thought he played well in the preseason. I expect him to go out and do those things. Again, if it’s a base fundamental thing, issue like that, like it was, let’s get those corrected, don’t repeat the mistakes.”

Film study:

“That’s also a big part of it, is it’s not just about what you’re doing on the practice field, but what you’re doing in the meeting rooms and what you’re doing in your free time. Again, some guys take a few more reps, some guys take a few more snaps. We had a player in Carolina, [LB] Thomas Davis, who arguably could be a Hall of Famer, but you look at the beginning of his career and he made a lot of mistakes. There were a lot of things that he had to learn and grow through, and fight through the injuries that he had. But, you see the same thing when you watch Jamin, you see the little detail things that he doesn’t quite get right now. But as he continues to work at it, and continues to grow and continues to develop, his skillset is gonna translate because the young man has good quickness, he’s got good speed and he’s got good natural strength. It’s just a matter of time. You feel like you don’t have as much time as you wish you had for growth and development, but that’s the nature of the game today.”

Playing starters more in the preseason:

“Yes. You most certainly would. A guy that took advantage of it was — and we’re watching DFo [S Darrick Forrest] play. I mean last week, what he did was a result of him getting opportunities. You sit there and you say, ‘Man, that’s pretty good.’ Oh yeah, that’s right when we played these guys in the preseason, that’s what he did against Carolina. That’s what he did against Kansas City. We saw that in Baltimore, and it’s not a surprise. I mean, [S] Jeremy Reaves is a guy that’s a great example of showing you what he can do in the preseason when he gets out there. And now it’s translating to the field. That’s what you wanna see from the young guys, is taking it from what we’re doing and putting it on the field. And again, DFo is an example of a guy that has. Now I will say this too, DFo made several mistakes, but he plays fast and confident. That’s gonna cover it up. So there’s some really good things to see as far as growth in young guys that you look for. I mean, it’s like watching [WR] Jahan [Dotson]. Jahan did what he did and had a great week. Won Pepsi Rookie of the Week. But at the same time, there’s some mistakes and you ask Jahan, Jahan is gonna tell you, ‘I could have run this route better. I could have gotten a better release on this. I could have taken just a step wider and then come back.’ That’s what you want from your young guys.”

Darrick Forrest:

Jared Goff:

“Well, first of all, I appreciate who Jared golf is. He’s a golden bear, so I’m okay with that. Second thing is you know, it it’s surprising that he got traded, but he’s in Detroit. He’s a veteran guy. He’s had some success in his career, very similar to what our guy has had. Our guys had a lot of success in his career as well. So, these are just two guys that have another opportunity with another team and that’s really the crux of it is that, you know, they have opportunities somewhere else.”

Defensive line:

Maturity issues from last year:

“No, and I said it. I thought coming outta camp, I felt pretty comfortable about our guys. I really did. I think we’ve got guys that understand a lot better. Again, I told this, I thought it started with listening to the coaches on their opening remarks during training camp at the very beginning. Scotty [Turner] talked about the growth and the offense and stuff like that. Jack [Del Rio] talked about humility. I mean, those to me were the two things that we had to really focus in on as a football team was continue the growth on the offensive side and on the defensive side, hey, a little humility, little humble pie was good for us.”

Rotating the offensive line:

“Again, we’ll see because again the concern being is these guys went from zero to 60, you know. They played as many reps as they did. We want to try and be smart with these guys and control that as well. So, coaches will be aware if they gotta rotate a guy, they’re gonna do it.”

Chris Harris

Darrick Forrest:

“I was very excited for DeFoe’s performance. He was a guy that came in last year and I told him before the game, I said, ‘Hey man, listen, last year, you didn’t know if you needed to go left or right. And now you’re about to get your first start in the National Football League.’ And I told him I trusted him and I believed in him and he went out there and he really played well. I was really happy for him, excited for him to see it all come together. You normally see a second-year, you see the biggest jump between players from their rookie year to second year because their rookie year everything’s moving. So it, I mean, it’s moving, you feel like it’s moving at the speed of light because I felt that way as a player myself. And so you feel like everything’s going so fast and you get a year under your belt and you get another offseason, a full off season and things really slow down. I feel for DeFoe, the game has started to slow down and he can focus less on, ‘Okay, what’s my assignment but how was the offensive attacking me? And so I think as a rookie, you’re like, man, what am I supposed to do? Hey, I just want to make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. Okay. This is what I’m supposed to do in this defense and I’m doing it and you don’t see the full picture. You don’t see the broad picture. I think the evolution of DeFo is the game slowing down and he’s starting to recognize formation, starting to recognize split, starting to recognize back field sets. And it’s not just okay, what’s my job and I gotta make sure I do my job. So I think that’s where you see the growth from DeFoe.”

Safety rotation:

“It’ll kind of morph. We have three good safeties. I mean just like last season, we had three safeties playing at times with Landon [Collins] Kam and Bobby [McCain]. I’m pretty sure it’ll be some combination because after seeing what we saw Sunday, we know it is not too big for DeFoe. He can play and then whenever Kam gets back, it is gonna be fun. It’s gonna be exciting to mix and match the pieces and make sure the right combination is out there on the field to give us our best possibility to win games.”

Kam Curl:

“Kam is a leader and he leads in his own way. He’s not just extremely vocal, but guys really gravitate towards him. He’s got a charisma about him. Just an aura about him. It’s hard to explain. I mess with Kam every single day just cuz I like being around him. He’s a fun guy to be around and Kam, he’s a cerebral player. He’s very intelligent and you have to be in order to play multiple positions. We could stick Kam at nickel, we could stick Kam at free. We could stick Kam at strong, we can stick Kam down in the box to play dime. He has value and he has a ton of value. A guy like him, you’re excited to have around cuz he’s really like a Swiss Army knife. What do you need him to do today? And we put him in the role that we best need him that day. And then that could change the next week. Okay. Prime example, we played the Panthers last year. Okay. Kam, we need you to cover [RB Christian]McCaffrey. Okay. He covered McCaffrey. Okay. Following week, Hey, we need you to cover this tight end. Okay. Kam covered the tight end. So being able to mix and match and do those type of things, it creates value for yourself and he is very valuable to this defense.”

Improving communication:

“I think part of it is the continuity that we have. We have four of the five starters returning. The year before that it wasn’t like that. I think that plays a big part of it. I think the guys’ camaraderie off the field is unmatched. I think it’s unbelievable. Hanging around with each other out of the building, I think it builds camaraderie and that communication aspect of it. When they’re in the building, they’re communicating with each other. Having four guys come back out of five that were starting last year. I think that’s another huge part of it.”

Developing new guys:

“The new guys we got in Tariq Castro-Fields and Rachad Wildgoose, when they got here, we started meeting with them and you don’t know what you’re getting when you claim somebody off of waivers. And so when we got ‘em, you don’t know as far as how they learn. Is it easy for them? And we got lucky. We got really lucky that those are two bright individuals and football kind of comes easy to ‘em. So when we got ‘em here, Coach [Brent] Vieselmeyer did an excellent job getting with them when they first got here. Then we kept going with them and just kind of spoon feeding them the defense because you can’t give ‘em everything at once. And so spoon feeding them spoon feeding them spoon feeding them to make sure they know what the game plan is. Just those particular defenses in the game plan. And they’ve picked up extremely fast, extremely well. So they’ll get reps one rep here, one rep there just in case, emergency happens. Same thing with Christian [Holmes]. He’s still learning, still understanding. Getting those guys out there and getting them one or two reps, during practice and even on the scout team. We’re doing their scheme, but we’re gonna play our techniques. So that’s how they get better. That’s how you develop, on the practice squad and when you’re running the scout cards.”

Benjamin St-Juste:

“I was happy with Juice. I was really happy with Juice. Juice has a excellent length. What I found out about Juice is he is a pretty effective blitzer. He blitzes with speed off the edge. That was good to see because that’s an unknown. This is the first time he’s ever played a real NFL game at that position and to see how he responded, how he reacted, it wasn’t too big for him. That can always be something, okay, this is my first time ever doing this. And it counts now. Like in the preseason, it doesn’t count, but it matters in the regular season. It counts and it matters. Being able to see him play well, be effective when we brought him off the edge, pressuring it, I was excited for him.”

Blitzing defensive backs:

“It keeps the offense guessing you don’t know who’s coming in at nickel coming in at safety coming or if one of the linebackers coming. And so it makes teams have to get ready for it all which is good for us as a defense. So if they spend a bunch of time trying to get ready for this, get ready for that, you know, it may short change ‘em somewhere else. So it’s good when you have multiple guys that can be effective blitzers.”

Starting CBs:

“I was very pleased with Will. Will is night and day from last season, he’s had an off season to really go through it. Things really started clicking with him this off season and this training camp and Will has been extremely locked in. And so he’s one of the guys I’m probably most excited to watch this season because I expect really big things from Will. I really think he is going to have an exceptional year this year and Kendall was pretty good as well. The guys I thought they came up and tackled well. I was really pleased with that and that’s the biggest thing, especially that first game, the tackling normally isn’t what it needs to be. And I thought those guys came up and they tackle really well. We just got to make sure everybody’s wind is right that first game. You’re so excited everything is going on. It’s the most you’ve played all pre-season and so getting that conditioning and making sure your lungs are right and ready to sustain a 60-play game.”

William Jackson III:

“I really loved his communication. That was a big thing that we talked about and him really having an understanding and grasping of the defense last year. A lot of things were foreign to Will last year because we played a little bit more zone than he’s been accustomed to. And so it was an adjustment for him. And so now he’s really understanding concepts. He’s really understanding the way we played the zone, compared to the way they were playing them in Cincinnati. And so seeing that from him, he had the one little hiccup on the, on the catch by [Jaguars WR] Zay Jones, but I mean, it was fine was something and right when it happened, he recognized, he was like, oh, you know what? This was it. So, and that’s the fun part. That’s the encouraging part when he can self-correct himself without you having to say anything.”

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