Ron Rivera opened his presser by talking about how competitive the NFC East is this year, and how it remind him of the old days when the division was always fighting for the top spot. He plans on keeping Washington in that competition.
Logan Thomas was ruled out today, and he remains in the concussion protocol. Rivera was asked about TE4 Curtis Hodges, and he said he needs to be more consistent if he wants more playing time. Rivera said this is basically Hodge’s rookie year since he barely played until the end of last season. The “rookie” is asking questions, and trying to improve, but he still seems like an easy player to try to upgrade. Rivera was also asked about using Alex Armah at tight, but he diverted his answer to Armah’s special teams abilities.
Rivera will be facing his former Carolina Panthers DC Sean McDermott on Sunday. He was 1-1 against him when he was still the Panthers HC, but lost to him two years ago with Washington. Rivera said the newness has worn off of coaching against him, and he’s preparing to even up the series between them.
Defending Bills QB Josh Allen is going to be one of Jack Del Rio’s top priorities for his defense. Rivera said the team has to play disciplined in every phase. Allen is a mobile QB that can easily break the pocket and throw on the run. Rivera wants to control where Allen can go once he’s on the move, and force him to make mistakes.
Coach Rivera speaks to the media after the last practice of the week https://t.co/7tqJ8CUXhk— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) September 22, 2023
I think it’s very good. I really do. This is as competitive as I’ve seen it in a while. I remember back in the day when you had to worry about Washington and you had to worry about Philadelphia and you had to worry about New York and Dallas. There was a time when all four were just constantly vying for the division. It’s kind of cool to see it kind of spark back up and come back to life and hopefully we can maintain our part of the bargain.
What he needs to see from TE Curtis Hodges:
I think consistency. I know I use that word a lot, but consistency. You got to be able to know that the young man knows where to lineup, knows what his role is, what his jobs are. I think that’s important. When you get those opportunities, you’ve got to show them. He’s working hard, extremely hard. He’s a big target. He’s got tremendous catch radius. It’s the maturing part because remember last year he really didn’t get to get any work until the very, very end and by then it was too late. This is kind of like a rookie year for him now.
If Hodges understands that and is being patient:
It’s hard to be patient. They want to be out there. That you want. You want guys to go, ‘hey, well why, how come? What do I have to do?’ I think that’s great that he asks those questions. He gets up and talks to the coaches and I think that helps him. It’s just being honest and telling him, ‘hey, look, these are the things that you got to get better at. This is what you got to do.’ He’s a heck of a young man. I think he’s got a good future. It’ll come in time.
I know we worked Alex at tight end a lot, but there are also some other things that Alex does as well. He is a four faze special teams guy as well.
Ron Rivera said TE Armani Rogers, who is out for the season because of an Achilles injury he suffered in May, is no longer in a boot and progressing in his recovery. Rivera said he's in the building constantly — "he's a gym rat" — and even sits in on some meetings.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) September 22, 2023
Oh yeah. Armani’s a gym rat. He loves it. It’s so unfortunate because the young man did such a great job his rookie year. It’d been great to have him available for us, but unfortunately we don’t. But yeah, he is around. He’s actually got the boot off now and they’ve been working him, so it’s good to see him coming by and spending some time. I think he’s even popped into the meetings a couple times, which he doesn’t have to be at. I think just being here and being around the guys is a big deal too.
Facing Bills HC Sean McDermott over the years:
Well it’s kind of both, people do certain things, it’s ingrained. It’s very basic though. But some of the exotic stuff, some of the stuff that they’ve kind of learned and evolved to, those begin to show up. That’s one of the cool things about it. Now we’re at the point where the newness of playing guys that you came up in the league with, guys that you’ve worked with, that’s kind of wearing off a little bit. He’s been doing his thing for the last five, six years, and doing it well. This will be a great opportunity for us.
Playing defense against Josh Allen:
Discipline. Discipline more than anything else. You’ve got to be disciplined. You’ve got to have rush lane discipline. You’ve got to have discipline in terms of your coverages. You can’t let him look you off. You can’t lose your guy when he starts to scramble around. You’ve got a plaster as pass rushers. You’ve got to make sure you contain him. If you’re going to let him run, make sure he runs to his opposite side. You don’t want him scrambling to his right. That’s where he is really deadly going to the left. That’s a little tougher throw. Those are the types of things that I know Jack has mentioned to those guys and they just got to understand this game is about being rush disciplined.
Allen still making a play:
Yep, he can. But if you give yourself an opportunity to make a play on him by being disciplined, by doing the things you’re supposed to, you get a chance to make those plays.
Sam Howell throwing on the run:
I don’t know if it’s necessarily just throwing on the run as much as breaking the pocket and extending the play. When you’ve got receivers that understand your quarterback and they know they do things to help put themselves in position to make plays, they present a good target to ‘em.
I don’t know if you guys know, it was one of the things that we worked on this year is, anytime we got off platform, we got off play, I didn’t blow the whistle right away, kept it going so these guys learn and understand what our quarterbacks do. What Sam does, what Jacoby does, you know, what Jake does when they scramble around.
And so it’s one of those things, you go back and look at certain teams that have done this i.e. Kansas City, Seattle, you know, these off platform plays are a big deal, especially with quarterbacks that are mobile.
Curtis Samuel/Kam Curl illness:
Rivera said Curtis Samuel and Kam Curl are dealing with flu-like symptoms and, with the old injury classifications, they'd be "probable" to play.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) September 22, 2023
It’s cold stuff, It’s flu stuff. Flu-like symptoms, stuff like that. They’ve all been tested and everything like that. They send them home with medicine. If you could rate ‘em like you used to they’d all be listed as probable. We’ll just check in the morning, we expect them to be good. We had a couple guys earlier in the week on Tuesday we sent home with flu-like symptoms, and they came back and practiced on Wednesday.
Bug going around the locker room:
Not necessarily it is Friday now and that was Tuesday. So hopefully I think it’s just what’s floating around outside more than anything else.
Kaczor said he doesn’t see Cheeseman’s struggles as a “yips” issue since they aren’t happening every snap. He noted how after the first botched snap against the Broncos, the rest of Cheese’s snaps were fine. https://t.co/KbEO9NWSxA— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) September 22, 2023
That’s been really a challenge for all of us, honestly. Everyone standing here goes to practice and you’ve seen even back in training camp that there was some issues with that. When someone’s had two really good years for us, that obviously factors in, he knows our protections. There’s still a good level of trust there. And actually, another contributing factor to staying the course is that Joey and Tress actually made some of these, which we all saw in the games. But it has to stop it.
With the continued issue, it’s just gotten more and more to a point of coming to a head. Hence the workout. Sometimes working out specialist is a necessity. Whether there’s an injury in the future, you have to know what’s out there. But in this case, the impetus of that was Cameron’s issues with the snapping. I’ve got a lot of resources at our disposal, obviously any of the coaches and there’s other people, veterans, that play the same position that he’s talked to. We don’t want to get too many thoughts in the head, but we’ve worked a lot of different angles on this and he’s continued to have good practices.
Another thing that’s interesting that helps you stay the course is he bounced back. I mean imagine being us on the sideline and that first one rolls back there, you don’t make it. You’re sitting there in a really good challenging road environment and then it’s in the back of your head like, how’s the rest of this going to go? I believe we had six more, whether it was extra points or field goals come up and on the sideline you’re just trying to get to the next one. I know that’s a coach speak and it’s common, get onto the next play, get onto the next shot, in golf, whatever it is. But we were able to do that.
Those things, him bouncing back, having good weeks of practice and then adding a couple resources and angles that we had not, and obviously the heat of the workout. As soon as you make one call to set up a workout, when I’m feeling lonely, I would just need to send out a blast that we’re doing a specialist workout because I get more emails and texts from everybody, I mean like people, hey, remember me, but that’s the way it should go.
Obviously a specialist, as soon as you inquire your guys know like, oh crap, but we communicated that with Cameron up front. Like, look, we we’re to the point now, we have to work people out. That’s one more step to this cannot happen again. There’s not a number on what can happen again. But the leash is definitely shorter and his history with us, the way that the battery believes in him, including the coaches, adding some different angles and resources along the way have seemed to help.
Once you’ve done something, you would think this would happen with a rookie, right? He kind of got through the rookie year, did a nice job last year, did a nice job. It’s just interesting when someone starts struggling at something that they’ve been doing for a long time. It was a little bit of uncharted territory for him and certainly for us. But that’s where we’re at. Like I said, the ability to stick with him is just all of the above that I see.
If anything changed with Cheeseman’s approach:
You know, there was a point during training camp that I know that that was kind of going around like he was changing something. But I think, I wanna say, someone might have said like he was working through something not on something. Does that make sense? Yeah. So, him working on something, if I hear that in context is like, oh, he is changing something. But we were having some struggles at that time, so he was working on things, not changing anything. Sometimes if you’re getting re-centered or trying to change your thought process to get out of a jam that’s working on something, but he didn’t decide like, oh, I’m gonna snap left hand being kind of extreme. But he didn’t make any mechanical changes. We were just trying to make adjustments to get through it or get back in touch with what he’s done.
Considering using another snapper during the game last week:
That’s a really good question. Now, the reason you wouldn’t do that, okay too, and again, I’m being very candid here about standing on the site. It wasn’t the fourth one of the game, it’s the first one. So that’s running through my head like, okay, but he and every other NFL long snapper is so much more talented than a reserve. And then you gotta imagine what they would feel like. Like, oh my gosh. Again, there were six more kicks, we were just starting. But the next person in would still be fighting the same mental battle probably and that would not be an option.
Now I can give you a quick story even if you don’t say anything about it, but when there’s an injury, and the one time I had another team I was on, we did have to go to our backup and then we ended up making it. The first one wasn’t good, but the one that ended up winning the game was fine and this guy goes out there and he came back, he’s like, I’ve never been so nervous in my life. They’re like, what are you doing out here? But you don’t even, you’re not even the snapper, you know, like, so they would be dealing with a lot of things too. So that’s a long answer to the question.
He’s doing great and with the situation with that, having go to someone that was unproven early or being able to grab Jamison that had 95 pump returns. He’s been out there a lot more than 95 times, but ones he caught and ran with it. And as you know, we’ve talked a lot about special teams in general with you guys since I’ve been here, but we had one in Denver that could have been a nice opportunity. It was one that we got a penalty that helped us, but the guy that got the penalty was kind of a piece in the blocking that didn’t quite get there.
But I have a really good feeling about Jamison and the one thing I needed to see was, I mean, you guys saw him when he was here before, before I got here. He’s still got some good twitch in his body for a veteran at the stage he is. So we get the right kind of punt and the blocking set up right, he’s still going to be able to get some guards for us. But like him so far and love the reliability and he’s been a good guy to get to know.
TE Logan Thomas working on a side field.— John Keim (@john_keim) September 22, 2023
Tiki Barber/Matt Ryan:
Matt Ryan and Tiki Barber prepping for the game. Barber and Eric Bieniemy catch up. pic.twitter.com/BGBO5BgfWh— John Keim (@john_keim) September 22, 2023