Washington Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera opened up his post-practice presser by saying they are thinking of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin who suffered a cardiac event on Monday night. Sam Howell will start in the season finale vs the Dallas Cowboys. It was reported this morning that Taylor Heinicke would start, but Howell would play at some point during the game. This was met with criticism online, and Washington let John Keim know that that QB lineup wasn’t finalized.
During the part of today’s practice that was open to media, Sam Howell was getting the first team reps, followed by Taylor Heinicke, and then Carson Wentz finished the rotation. Rivera has now confirmed that the rookie from North Carolina will get his first regular season snaps in the NFL as the started vs the Dallas Cowboys.
LIVE: HC Ron Rivera speaks to the media https://t.co/QLygSAwYIR— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) January 4, 2023
Ron Rivera opens his press conference with expressing his thoughts for Damar Hamlin: "We're thinking of that young man."— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) January 4, 2023
Sam Howell will start vs the Dallas Cowboys:
Ron Rivera, on the decision to start Sam Howell: pic.twitter.com/RWSIzRhkSn— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 4, 2023
QB Sam Howell will start on Sunday pic.twitter.com/Ec7oYMKwtY— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) January 4, 2023
Sam Howell will in fact start for the Commanders this week. "This is an opportunity for him to show us what he's capable of," Ron Rivera says. Team won't "judge everything" off of this game but wants to get their first look— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) January 4, 2023
*Starting Rookie QB Sam Howell https://t.co/q4vKcJNrfO— Mitchell Tischler (@Mitch_Tischler) January 4, 2023
Rivera said they're very intrigued with what Howell can do and they want to see it. There was some thought to starting Taylor Heinicke to see what Dallas was doing and elevate the burden off Howell, but ultimately decided to go with the rookie.— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) January 4, 2023
Ron Rivera just now in his press conference:— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) January 4, 2023
"Our plan is we're going to start with Sam. I spoke with the coaches and talked to some of the team leaders. We feel this is an opportunity for us to show us what he's capable of. The opportunity is going to be a good one for him."
Part of the thinking for Ron Rivera, after consulting multiple coaches, players about Howell: "He's going to get an opportunity to play. Why not just start from the beginning?"— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 4, 2023
Howell’s excited for his first start:
Rivera said Howell was excited for the chance to start and said he was ready to roll.— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) January 4, 2023
Howell’s progress since training camp:
Rivera said watching Howell showed him that he was growing and working on the things that he needed to improve upon coming out of training camp— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) January 4, 2023
Howell taking first team reps at practice today:
Rivera on Howell today at practice - “He has a live arm…quick decision making…He took command early on”— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) January 4, 2023
Taylor Heinicke will be the primary backup for Howell— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) January 4, 2023
Rivera said he had strongly considered starting Taylor Heinicke in part because of the D they're facing Sunday vs. Dallas. Could have given Howell a chance to see game flow, how the Cowboys were attacking. But opted just to go with Howell— John Keim (@john_keim) January 4, 2023
Rivera cited Chris Paul among the young players he wants to take a look at this week (along with some tight ends and defensive backs). https://t.co/9qMzAfnFTr— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) January 4, 2023
Starters playing a full game vs the Cowboys:
Ron Rivera didn't say definitively if the starters will play the full game Sunday.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 4, 2023
Ron Rivera on playing starters: "We will look at the situation, circumstances. We want to win, but we also have to think about going forward."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 4, 2023
3rd year progress as Washington’s head coach:
Before the season started, Ron Rivera said this year 3 was important for the team to take that next step.— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) January 4, 2023
I asked Rivera today if he felt like the team did just that.
He said, "I like to believe we did, I think we did some really good things"
More tonight on @7NewsDC pic.twitter.com/S66DrXwVA0
Rivera asked about his third-year jump comments and whether they've made enough progress: "Do I believe we stepped forward? Yes, I do." He says they were sixth at the conference at one point, but they couldn't sustain it.— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) January 4, 2023
Rivera says the coaching staff has "a lot more evaluating to do" on Wentz. I took that as polite coach-speak and not an indication he might be around next year.— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) January 4, 2023
Dan Snyder involved in the QB decision?:
Rivera says Commanders ownership had no involvement in QB decision— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) January 4, 2023