The Washington Commanders visited the Baltimore Ravens for two days of joint practices. They will meet again at FedEx Field on Monday night for the second preseason game. Head Coach Ron Rivera was asked if he was ready to name a starting QB, but he put that announcement off, saying he needed to discuss it with the other coaches. He has been impressed with Howell during camp, and talked about his leadership while tensions rose during joint practices.
Message to the team:
Well, biggest thing I told ‘em is you don’t have to get a little bit out of control to be successful and have a good work week. Thought they did some really good things today. Really pleased with a lot of the positives, a lot of the pluses. But, you know, we didn’t need the fighting and that was one of my biggest messages, guys, you gotta go out there and play football. You gotta perform, do your job, do what you’re supposed to. All that other stuff’s not important. It doesn’t help us win football games.
Just wanted to make sure they understand that. I think part of our thing is just understanding how to be a mature football team, and I think that’s important. We’ve shown some good growth, some good maturity, but this was a good test to just understand what it takes to be really good.
I thought they did hold their own. I really did. You know, that’s a good football team that they go up against. They got a tremendous scheme and I thought our guys handled it. I thought they adjusted really well to some of the things that went on. We got beat a couple times, but a couple times we did some really good things that we could really hang our hat on. A lot of improvement.
Very pleased with the play of the quarterbacks. I thought Sam did a great job. You know, this is one of the things that we talked about, how important that these two days would be in our evaluation process, and there’s a lot of questions we wanted answered and yesterday’s tape I was really pleased with for not just the quarterbacks, but for him specifically as well. He did some really good things. Threw some real good balls. His ball placement, his accuracy was what we needed. Decision making was very plus. So again, I’m looking forward to watching the tape with Eric and Tavita and really get a chance to evaluate him again after yesterday’s practice.
Ron Rivera was asked, in light of other teams naming their starting quarterbacks, if he’s ready to do the same. He took a diplomatic answer and said he needs to review the tape of these two days. (They know)— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) August 16, 2023
Rivera declined to officially name Howell as the starter for the season. However: they'll meet over the next two days. Could lead to a formal announcement Friday. Howell hasn't done anything to lose the job. But these two days were key; go back, analyze, discuss, proceed.— John Keim (@john_keim) August 16, 2023
Well, again, I said I gotta sit down with both Eric and Tavita and really evaluate it and make sure he’s doing the things that we need him to do. And yesterday he had a really good day. We’re really pleased with it after having to watch the tape and we’ll see how it is after we get a chance to watch this tape together. We’re traveling today, so we’ll sit down tomorrow and go through it and talk about Sam and really just evaluate that and evaluate Jacoby as well. I mean, Jacoby did some really good things too, so we feel really comfortable about the quarterback room right now.
Rivera mostly pleased with Howell’s decision making over these two days pic.twitter.com/OeyYtb3HkJ— George Wallace (@GWallaceWTOP) August 16, 2023
RR on Howell: “The biggest thing I’ve been pleased with is his decision making.”— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman) August 16, 2023
He also says he was impressed with Sam’s leadership through an emotionally charged practice.
I think that’s one of the things that we were hoping is that when we got out here and the stuff was pretty close to real, see how he handled it and he handled it well and he made some real good decisions. As I said, his ball placement was really good. His decision making was exceptionally good and he delivered on time for the most part. When he went off platform, scrambled around a little bit, his eyes were downfield. He was able to find guys and make those kind of throws and plays that you need to, to help the team keep going forward.
What Howell needs to do to be QB1:
Well, I think it’s continue what he’s shown. The command in the huddle. Get to the line of scrimmage, handle those things that go on. Put us in the right protections, make the right signals and calls to the receivers, and then go out and execute, which we’ve seen. And he did it well in the first preseason game, he’s done it well throughout camp. Probably the biggest thing that I’m really pleased about has been his decision making and that has been a big plus. So we’ll get a chance to evaluate tomorrow after we get back and get a chance to settle back into Ashburn and then we’ll go from there.
I think today was a really good indication because there was a lot of emotion out there and he had to stay cool and remain cool and calm and kind of exude that to his teammates to get them refocused and practice. And that’s probably the most important thing is you lead your guys through situations like that, it shows and it kind of showed today. I was really pleased with that.
I think part of it is his demeanor and part of it is some of the words he uses. I mean he’s very selective. He’s very direct to certain guys. He’ll come up and say some things. It’s not broad for the most part. So when he gets into the huddle though, there is a calmness about him.
I’ll tell you right now, I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve seen from John Bates. I thought he blocked extremely well. And then as a guy coming out late after chipping or blocking, he presents a really nice target, made a couple of big catches today. That really kind of showed the kind of check down he can be for the quarterbacks.
TE/FB Alex Armah’s position flexibility:
Absolutely, absolutely. And on special teams as well. I mean he’s a four-phase guy, but you know, when you have the flexibility that if something were to happen to that position, he could go outside and do that and then come back in and play fullback. That’s a big plus for him and again, it’ll be all part of the discussion when we get time to get down to cut down time. I know what you’re trying to do.
Saahdiq Charles calf injury:
Saahdiq Charles participated in practice initially but then pulled from team drills. Rivera said Charles had some issue with the calf again.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) August 16, 2023
Saahdiq Charles worked early in practice, then they shut him down because of the calf. After that, he still did some individual work but no pads and no full-team.— John Keim (@john_keim) August 16, 2023
Ron Rivera says Andre Jones has exceeded expectations: "Wow, he's a dynamic young man..His talent and his abilities did flash, he's a guy we have to pay attention too."— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 16, 2023
Wow, he’s a dynamic young man. He’s got some explosion off the edge. He’s got a lot to learn in terms of technique and the scheme itself, but his talent and his abilities did flash, did show. So he’s a guy that we gotta pay a little extra attention to this week.
Has Jones exceeded expectations?:
Yes he has. We thought this would be one of those learning things and he seems to be assimilating very nicely, but as I said, he’s still got some more things to learn.
Just asked Ron about this after the presser, and he’s not concerned because Cheeseman has been working on new technique.— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman) August 16, 2023
He did tell me this game is kinda the end of the timeline to have that work pay off and the consistency needs to be there. But not concerned at this time. https://t.co/uOTvJFaTcP
LIVE: QB Sam Howell speaks to the media after Day 2 of joint practice at Baltimore https://t.co/anEegNl3cQ— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) August 16, 2023
Two days of practice with the Ravens:
I thought it was a good two days of work. I’m very pleased with our performance offensively. I thought we did some really good things as a group. Obviously there was a couple pressures that they got us on, which were just kind of things that we didn’t really game plan for. But we went back after yesterday and watched the film and were able to come out here today and have some answers for those things. It’s more difficult when you’re not really game planning for another team, but I think for the most part we did a really good job.
It was great. It was a great opportunity to come out here and practice against a good team, a good defense. They do a really good job over here in Baltimore, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It was a great opportunity for us as an offense to come out here and get better. Just try to show what we can do and if we do make mistakes to learn from those mistakes. I thought it was a good two days for us as a group. I was very pleased with the stuff we were able to put on tape so I feel good coming out of here.
Facing another defense:
Yeah, I mean I love going against our defense too. We have a really good defense, so it’s fun going against them as well. But it is cool to come out here against another team and know that you can come out here against another team and do some good things. It’s definitely a good confidence booster for me and a good confidence booster for our offense. We can come out here and play with anybody if we just control it and do our jobs.
Not being named the starter yet:
I just take it one day at a time and try to do everything I can to take advantage of the opportunity that I do have and take advantage of those first team reps that I have right now and try to do everything I can to solidify myself as this title. The title doesn’t change anything from a work standpoint, I try to do everything I can to be the best player I can be every single day, no matter who I’m taking reps with.
Honestly for me, I want them to do what they think is what’s best for the team. It really doesn’t matter to me as far as when. I’m confident in my abilities. If they make the decision tomorrow or if they make it the night before the game, it doesn’t matter. I’m confident in my abilities and I know I can go out there and play well and be successful and give my team a chance to win.
Sam Howell asked about being named QB1 - "Title doesnt change anything from a work standpoint. I try to be the best player I can every single day."— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 16, 2023
(ed. note: he is and has been QB1)
Has he proven he should be the starter?:
I think just throughout this whole entire process I’ve been pleased with what I’ve done. I think there’s still things that I can improve on and show improvement on. I’m still not satisfied with my development. I still think there’s things I can improve on, but I do feel like I’ve put myself in a good spot.
Where he wants to improve:
I think in all areas of my game I’m always trying to get better and trying to get more consistent. I think over time with more reps, I’ve gotten a lot more consistent. I just would like to keep building on that.
Eric Bieniemy seeing him overthink less:
I think the main thing is I’m just more confident in the offense and I’m way more comfortable out there calling the plays and knowing what we’re trying to accomplish with the play that we’re calling. I feel like I’m in a really good place mentally with what EB’s trying to do and we’re on the same page. It’s just a lot of fun going out there now. I’m kind of just playing instinctive at this point. I’m going back to just playing football at this point. There’s not really much thinking going on because I’m very comfortable with the offense.
Sam Howell on Terry McLaurin: "It's just so much fun to have a guy that I feel no matter who's covering him he's going to get open"— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 16, 2023
I love Terry. He’s an awesome competitor. It was so much fun to watch him yesterday, especially when they had, Marlon Humphrey on him for pretty much most of the day. Terry was kind of fired up and he had a really good day. It’s just so much fun to go out there knowing I have a guy that no matter who’s covering him, he’s going to get open and he’s going to make a play. It just makes my job so much easier.
Chemistry with the wide receivers:
I think it has only gotten better. I feel like we’re in a really good place. We’ve done a lot of work in the offseason and training camp and we’re in a really good spot. Then just coming out here, going against another team and getting those reps, that’s only going to make us better. I feel like we’re in a good spot.
His role as a leader when things get chippy:
I mean obviously it’s tough to kind of control everybody when the emotions are so high and everyone’s in a fight. When we’re in the huddle, I’m just trying to get the guys to refocus and settle down. Obviously, tempers are going to get a little high out here and you want it to be competitive. It’s a competitive sport and you want guys to truly care about it and care about their teammates and stand up for their teammates. I think that that stuff’s all good, but my job is to get those guys to settle down and just focus on what’s really important and that’s their job.
Charles Leno after the final joint practice on how the offense line is coming together:— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) August 16, 2023
"I think we're meshing well. Today, the last couple of days have been physical days. I feel like we ain't backing down from nobody. I just feel like we're still growing that bond together."
LIVE: CB Kendall Fuller speaks to the media after Day 2 of joint practice at Baltimore https://t.co/0QlQkn4JS0— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) August 16, 2023
Defense vs the Ravens offense:
Yeah, it was fun man. I think ultimately just being able to go against somebody different. You’ve been going against your guys for so long so to go against different guys, other different skill sets to prepare yourself and today was a good day. We had fun. We came out here competed, put some good film out there to learn from. Made some mistakes out there that we can learn from. So overall, I felt like it was a good week.
Practicing against a different team:
Yeah, I love it because I mean, you just get out there and you just play ball. You just play what you see. And even that, that’s a little bit different from a game because from a game, you got film that you can go out there and watch and stuff like that. But just from a technique standpoint, there’s no film, no knowledge of what they do. You just line up, play your technique and trust that your technique is gonna allow you to make plays. So just being able to get out here and do that was definitely good for us.
Positives from the younger DBs:
I think just competing man. DB is one of those positions to where you go through highs and lows. It’s a position where you gotta have a lot of respect for what you do on the field and you gotta have the utmost confidence in your ability. So just for the guys to come out and compete, guys make plays, you make plays and you just keep on lining up with that confidence and to see young guys consistently step up and just make plays from the ones, twos, threes, it was big. Good to see.
Progression from QB Sam Howell:
He’s been good. I haven’t watched him the last two days just from being on different fields, but just making throws, man. I remember the other day he made an out route on me, which that pisses me off, but like, just to see him be able to put those throws in spots that DBs can’t get it. I think the good NFL quarterbacks, that’s what separates a lot of times college from the NFL. Quarterbacks can put the ball to where a defensive back, no matter how good the coverage is, you just can’t get to it. So, to see him just have the confidence to make those type of throws, to throw ‘em and things like that, it’s been, been good to see.
The Baltimore Ravens’ offensive chemistry:
Just good talent man. Just veteran guys. Even Odell, just going up with him, just certain moves that he makes at the top of his routes. If you have good coverage, he’ll give you an extra move to kind of sell it. I think just them kind of just learning each other, feeling each other. You can definitely, definitely see it. I’m sure they’re gonna have a good year, both good players. So, it was fun to get out there and go out and compete against them.
I always been a big fan of Kam man. He’s just an overall good football player. He can make plays all around the field. So, for me it was nothing that I haven’t expected from him. Nothing that I feel like he hasn’t put out on tape over these last three years. So, for me, he’s just coming out being the same Kam Curl and that’s all we need him to do.
Defense grew closer practicing against another team?:
Yeah. I mean, anytime you go against guys that aren’t your teammates, you got to come together and you just always giving each other encouragement, speaking positivity over one another. So, I think it definitely brought us together as a team and something that we definitely enjoyed.
Competition in training camp:
I mean that’s camp, that’s what you want camp to do. You want competition, you want to get better. And I think, you know, having the preseason game, having these joint practices it allows for more competition, and allows us to get better. It allows us to go against the different offenses, learn things about us that we may not have known, learn things about other offenses around the league, so it’s definitely helpful for us.
Andre Jones said of Ryan Kerrigan: "Every day we'll be in meetings, he'll say, 'you can do this you can do that. I like this, like this, stay doing this. Even with drills, he'll pull me to the side. He's a legend so I've got to lock in on that and take advantage."— John Keim (@john_keim) August 16, 2023