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Washington Commanders Training Camp Pressers: Defense

Washington’s offensive players speak to the media after practices

The Washington Commanders have held 9 training camp practices over the last two weeks. After each practice, players are made available to the media. Here are the pressers from the defensive side, and Tress Way!

Jonathan Allen

Expectations for the team:

I try not to focus on what we’re capable of because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter right now. I’m just trying to make sure I’m doing my part and helping this team become the best football team we can be. At the end of the season, we’ll stack up the wins and see where we’re at.

Who has stood out during training camp?:

It’s hard to say with the second day of pads. I think everyone’s had a good period. KJ Henry’s playing really good. Andre Jones’ playing really good, then Joshua Pryor is playing really good and then big Phil plays really good. It’s just about consistency so the more and more days we get into training camp, the more and more we can see what they’re really made of.

Eliminating stupid mistakes:

We’re playing really well together. When I’m taking my break, I know Sweat and Payne will go out there and do what they got to do. The guys in the back and are going to do what they’re doing. We’re really eliminating the stupid mistakes, the lack of communication, the hustles. We’re just playing really well off each other right now, so we got to keep that up. We can’t get too excited. We understand that it’s only week two of training camp. There’s a lot of room for improvement and there’s a lot of things we got to clean up, but every day we’re taking a step in the right direction. We’re not having really any days where we take a step back.

Using the five package more:

It really just depends. If teams come out in five wide, it’s going to be hard to be in the Cinco package. But as a defensive lineman, I think the hardest thing is not focusing on what packages you’re in, but whenever you’re in the game, whatever the situation is, making the best out of that situation. I try not to focus on that because it’s really out of my control.

It’s up to Coach Del Rio and the scheme that the coach put together. It’s my job to go out there and execute it regardless of the situation. As a defensive line, we always say we want the pressure on us. We want us, the D-line, to have the hardest job on the field. If that means we’re out there and we have low numbers and we still got to stop the run with a light box, so be it.

Feeling comfortable in year four of this defense:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, you don’t have to spend a lot of time with a lot of the basics. We know the plays, we know what we’re supposed to do now and we can really pay attention on how we have to do it. As opposed to going into the first year, we’re all learning something new, so we have to spend more time focusing on what to do first. I feel like we have a good understanding of what we’re trying to do, but now we can really fine tune on how we’re going to accomplish that.

How the extended periods of practice affected the players:

It’s really good. You know, I think depending on where guys are in their career is going to affect them differently. I know for me, I like to go hard and I like to practice hard and sometimes I can wear myself down and not recover. So, this year I’m trying to do a better job of focusing on myself when I’m not on the field, spending even that much more time trying to recover. So I can always play at a high level. It’s one of the things where everybody has to find that out on their own, you know what I mean? As a young guy, you can kind of go forever for the most part.

So you don’t really think about the little things and what you’re eating and the recovery you’re doing at night and what time you’re going to sleep. But as you get older and going into year seven, you know, thank God my wife went to school for exercise science and nutrition and she’s really helping me fine tune the little things that are going to allow me to, you know, play with these sustained periods for a longer period of time.

Phidarian Mathis

First day in pads:

It was a good day, man. I feel like the defense came out strong, we played physical, just helping the offense get better today. I think it was a great first day.

Scuffle with UDFA Mason Brooks:

It’s just a lot of excitement, man. It’s just the first day getting back at it, just talking a little trash. It’s just trying to get each other better.

Getting hurt last season:

It was long, it was kind of heartbreaking, just for the first game to go out like that. But at the same time, it was a big humbling experience, just sitting out, getting to watch those guys go out every Sunday and play. It was like a humble experience for me. It made me look at the game differently. You just never know when it’s your last play, so you got to take everything serious. Never take this game for granted.

Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne:

Those guys are flawless, man. Their game is just flawless. Those two guys together, man, they’ll attack a lot of offenses. It’s a blessing for me just to be behind those guys learning each every day, just watching their game so I can add it to mine.

Sam Cosmi and Nick Gates:

I think those guys are doing a very great job throughout OTAs and camp. They’ve been doing a very great job stepping up and being a team player no matter where their coach is putting them at. They also help us get better at the same time. I think that’s a good thing they’re doing.

Expectations this season:

Just really playing the game, man. Just reminding myself I can do this. This is why I got drafted here. Showing everybody that I was the second pick for a reason. I’m just coming back for what I left on the table. I left a lot out there. I knew I was going to have a great season last year, so I want to pick up where I left off last year and just play my role when my name called on. That’s the biggest thing for me.

Playing nose tackle in the five man package:

It’s awesome, man. Getting the chance to be in there with those guys. Those guys have been in the game longer than me and just to be in that circle is awesome. The energy just goes up from being in there with Tez, Payne, Jon and Chase, the energy goes to a whole different level. To be in there and repping it with those guys, man, it’s an awesome feeling.

Learning from Payne and Allen:

It ain’t that hard, but at the same time it’s a challenge because when you getting up with those guys, you have to bring your A game. These guys, they at the top of the top, so I’m just trying to mesh their energy when my name is called.

Playing more this season:

Most definitely. Whenever my name is called, I’m just trying to go in there and do my job and help out the team.

Kendall Fuller

The secondary’s progress:

It’s been pretty good. Each day we’re trying to go out there and get better. Ultimately, just go out there and make plays, touch the ball. Coach Rivera’s been preaching about just doing the little things right. That’s something we’ve been focusing on each and every play. Just doing the little details, right. Getting your keys right and fundamentals right. It’s been fun, man. Everybody been going out there and making plays and just going out there competing.

Spending more time practicing on one specific area:

It’s been good. We’ve been honestly just working on the little things. We’ve been working on redzone defense, working on third down defense, just doing different things that you need to for Sunday in terms of techniques that you may use. Specifically, in the red zone techniques that you may use on third and short versus third and 10. So just being able to kind of work on situational football to help you get prepared for Sunday.

Emmanuel Forbes:

I think he’s just starting to play faster. When you first get in there, trying to learn the defense and things like that sometimes you allow your mental process to slow you down. He’s been coming out here mentally starting to pick it up faster, so you see him reacting faster to certain plays and certain routes and things like that. So, he’s definitely improving each and every day.

Talent on defense:

Depth of the CB room:

I love it, man. We got a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things. A lot of guys that can make plays all over the football field. A lot of guys that can play different positions. For us, we just having fun. We got a lot of talent. At the end of the day, you got to go out there and produce on the field on Sundays. That’s what we’ve been working on since OTA’s. You put your head down and just grind. We definitely have a lot of potential, but at the end of the day, it’s all about what you go out and do on Sundays.

Benjamin St-Juste

What crosses the line when the team gets chippy at practice::

As long as it doesn’t get like physical and you don’t put your teammate in harm of getting injured or whatever, it’s all part of the game. We’re going to see it during the season, all that trash talking, taunting and all that stuff. Obviously, you got to be smart, but there’s always going to be a little bit of that. I think it brings out the best on both sides, offense and defense. It makes practice more competitive.

Interaction with Terry McLaurin:

I never take none of that personal. It’s not personal to any of my teammates. I’m just playing. I’m in the middle of the fire and I just made a play and all that stuff. Terry’s a good captain, a good veteran to come over and say, we don’t usually do that to our own teammate. I respect that. That’s something to look forward to and just to be careful with. But at the same time, that’s all the same fire that brings this team together and creates that competitive aspect that we’re going to need throughout the season.

Improved over the summer:

Executing all the plays. I don’t have to strain as much like I did my first two years trying to make up some ground because I didn’t know where to be or like what the concept is going to be. Now that I know and I’ve been playing two positions, I kind of know like where I need to be so I don’t have to run and try to make up for some plays because I’m late. I’m usually like two, three steps ahead of what the offense is doing so I can just chill in that spot, wait for the ball and make a pick.


I love the group that we have. It’s been very fun. That’s one thing that we can highlight. It’s been fun. I think our chemistry is really good. Everybody feeds off each other’s energy. Everybody’s learning very fast. I’m moving well, Forbes is moving well Quan, all those guys. I think we all care for each other so that’s what makes our group tight.

Film study:

I’ve realized when I came into this league that being the fastest, the strongest, doesn’t bring you so far. The mental aspect of the game is going to keep you in the league for five, 10 plus years. Understanding where you need to be, understanding where other players are around you, how they’re going to play, where they’re going to be when the balls thrown, you can utilize that. All the smartest players that you see in the NFL that’ve been playing for 10 plus years, on the defense, they’re generals out there. They understand everything. They can play multiple positions. So that’s what I’ve been studying, a whole bunch of film studying in the off season.

In the off season, I went through every single OTA practice that we did every day. I watched every game from 2021 and every game from 2022. I started with all my corner reps and then I went through all the nickel reps and then I started looking at some of the players around the league that I look up to, trying to see how different they play their technique. Obviously, we don’t know their whole scheme and all that stuff, but I can still pull up their film and see how they play certain things. So every day I used to just go in my room or go up there in the facility and watch a little bit of film for about 30, 45 minutes, just see what they do. I’d try it and at practice it’s the time to try it, see what works, what doesn’t work. So then when you get in the game, it’s easy. You can just execute.

Who he watches:

Some of the top DB’s, like Jaire Alexander, Marshon Lattimore, Sauce, stuff like that. Trying to see what made them so good last year so maybe I can steal a few of their tricks.

Tress Way

Fights at camp:

I think if you guys go back and look at the film of whenever it got really chippy in there, I was over on the other field as far away as possible as you could be. I don’t want any smoke of some of those big dudes, but that’s camp man. You got guys out there getting fired up. Guys are trying to win jobs, compete for jobs, the tempo violations. I mean, it’s this unspoken thing, the tempo violation, but it’s football. I haven’t been in a football scrum in a while, and I don’t plan to be but you never know things could transpire. We’ll see what happens.

Where he falls when there is chippiness between the offense and defense:

I’m on both sides because I feel like that’s the safest spot, you know? So, like if somebody attacks me, both sides will be like, Hey, that’s our guy and I’m like, you’re right. I’m everybody’s guy. Please just don’t come after me. I wore a white jersey here my first few years here and I forget who it was, I think it was either D.J. Swearinger or DeAngelo Hall. They were like, T Way man, you’re a part of the defense. We need you to wear red. I was like, heck yeah, I’ll wear red. Let’s do it and it’s been that way ever since.

Botched snaps on field goals:

Cheese has been working this new grip and I always tell ‘em like, you know, year three as a specialist, year three is a little funky man. You come in rookie year and it all just happens so fast and you just kind of react. In year two, you’re trying to make a couple strides, work on some particular things. And then in year three you’re sitting there and you’re a vet. You should have it all figured out. You know, this, that, protections, you know, the feeling and you start to kind of and rightly so, be a perfectionist. So, he’s been working on this grip and man, he’s throwing nails, but that hardest transition is into those team periods and preseason. We were talking about it after because I mean that dude works his tail off and it’s been bugging him. And I was like, man, that’s the ultimate time to just trust yourself, you gotta do it like you gotta go out there, the team situations and preseason games because it’s ultimately the way to go. He has been snapping great. So, the good news is you get to come back in 48 hours and do it all over again. So, we’ll be all right.

Is there anything that led to the change?:

No, there were a couple things last year. He was snapping well, but he didn’t like that he had a tight spiral. The big three in snapping are your spiral, your location and having laces on short snaps. He was snapping good, he just didn’t really like his rotation. And me being the holder, I was like, yeah man, I’d really like a perfect spiral too, that’d be nice to catch. And so, he’s just working on it and made that change this summer. I mean obviously he hates that one kind of got trapped down on the ground like that, but that’s what camp is for. We’re gonna grind and keep going.

What his trash talk would sound like:

Yeah, I would go psychological warfare for sure. If I’m playing defense and I see Sam Howell, I’d be like, Hey man, do you inhale or exhale when you’re throwing the ball? And then just that next play, he’d be like, I don’t know. But I know I’m not going to scare anybody if I get up there. So I just kind of try and weave my way through as much as I can and try and get into your head. If I can live there rent free, then it’s game on.

Do players try to trash talk to him?:

They do. It doesn’t work, but they do try. I used to have a really good magician’s assistant, Matt Ioannidis. The rookies would be all around for punt team and Ioannidis would always be like, Hey Tress, I’ll pay you a hundred dollars today if you do this whole punt session left footed. I’m like, man, I don’t know man. He is like, come on, just do it lefty. What’s coach going to care? I was like, all right, I’ll go lefty. And I’d just rifle one off and the rookies are like, oh my gosh, where am I? I try and sprinkle it in on the guys, but it’s all right. Psychological warfare.

Goodbye Pete Hailey: