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Daily Slop - 7 Sep 23 - Mitchell Rales: We’re not focused on the previous name, that ship has sailed

A collection of articles, podcasts & tweets from around the web to keep you in touch with the Commanders, the NFC East and the NFL in general

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Washington Commanders Owners Josh Harris And Mitchell Rales Speak At Economic Club Of Washington Event
Washington Commanders limited partner Mitchell Rales answers questions while appearing at the Washington Economic Club September 6, 2023 in Washington, DC. David Rubenstein, president of the Washington Economic Club, interviewed both Rales and during the event.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Commanders links


Commanders Wire

Mitchell Rales on Commanders’ former name: ‘That ship has sailed’

On Wednesday, Harris and partner Mitchell Rales were interviewed at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., and were interviewed about several topics related to the Commanders.

Of course, the name was among the topics. And Rales quickly put the debate about the old name to bed.

“We could take the easy way out and say we’re not focused on that right now,” Rales said, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post. “What I can tell you is we’re not focused on the previous name. That ship has sailed. We’re not going to relitigate the past. We’re about the future. We’re about building the future and not having a divisive culture that we’re engaged in. We’re going to look at everything come the end of the year and think about a lot of different things and do a lot of testing and see what people think. And we’ll learn. The beauty is we have the time to look at all of this stuff intelligently and make fan-based decisions.”

Now that’s the perfect answer. Rales hit on everything. He put the debate to bed if there was a debate left. He acknowledged that a name change was in play and that the fans would be involved.

Practice Notes | Monitoring the status of Terry McLaurin, Chase Young ahead of the 2023 season opener

Wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who was recently named a captain and is coming off his third consecutive 1,000-yard campaign, is dealing with turf toe that kept him out of practice for the rest of the preseason, while defensive end Chase Young is recovering from a stinger that he suffered against the Cleveland Browns.

Not much has been said by head coach Ron Rivera about either McLaurin or Young’s injury in the past few weeks. There is reported optimism in McLaurin’s case that he will not be hampered by his turf toe, but the best recovery for him has been to get as much rest as possible.

“We’ll continue to treat Terry’s toe,” Rivera said. “We were keeping him off of it.”

There’s been even less revealed about Young’s injury. Young visited with doctors last month, and Rivera said things have been headed in a positive direction. Since then, however, Rivera has refrained from speaking about the injury publicly.

Now that Week 1 is officially here, media members have been allowed to see both players in action again.

There was a small crowd of reporters next to the receivers as McLaurin got to work. The biggest concern was with how the veteran wideout would move with his toe injury, but he looked unbothered as he went through individual drills. He ran with strength and acceleration as he ran routes on air, and when the receivers met with the quarterbacks, he executed each assignment without issue.

Washington Post (paywall)

Terry McLaurin, Chase Young progressing, hope to play in Commanders’ opener

Young suffered a stinger, in which the nerves in the neck and shoulder are stretched or compressed after contact, during the Commanders’ preseason opener in Cleveland.

“[Young is] doing everything he can to get ready to play,” Rivera added. “We have reps scripted for him, we have certain periods that he can participate in, and it’s going to be all up to what happens with the doctor visit that he has coming up soon. … If he’s cleared, we’ll go.”

Commanders Wire

John Riggins is expected to attend the Commanders’ Week 1 opener vs. Cardinals

[O]ver the years, Riggins has had a contentious relationship with the franchise with whom he is beloved. “Riggo” was one of the former players who never shied away from his disdain for former owner Dan Snyder. Riggins once said Snyder had a “dark heart.”

When the franchise was rebranded to the Commanders in 2022, Riggins was outspoken about the name.

“I feel completely disenfranchised,” said Riggins. “I can’t understand how anyone who once played under the old franchise name could possibly want to be a part of anything to do with the Washington Commanders.”

On Wednesday, The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., hosted Harris and one of his partners, Mitchell Rales, for an interview. Riggins was in attendance and was seen speaking with Harris and Rales.

This was a big step for Riggins and the franchise. But that’s not the end. Sam Fortier of The Washington Post revealed that Riggins “is expected” to attend Washington’s season opener against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.


Magic Johnson preaches championship practices to Commanders

Johnson on Wednesday relayed stories about his success, answered questions from some of the players and seized the players’ attention — even though few, if any, actually saw him play. The Commanders have 24 players on their roster — including the practice squad and those on injured reserve — who were born before Johnson retired from the NBA for a second time after the 1995-96 season. Punter Tress Way, Washington’s oldest player at 33, was 6 when Johnson retired.

Not that it mattered.

“When he walked in, it was like you’re seeing a star,” said Washington receiver Jahan Dotson, born four years after Johnson retired from the NBA. “I’m a huge basketball fan, my dad is a huge basketball fan, so I’ve heard endless stories. I’ve seen numerous highlights. It’s almost like I did watch Magic so I definitely look up to him. He is definitely pretty cool.

“We’re super thankful to have him around and share his knowledge with us. It is really, really awesome.”

Pro Football Talk

Josh Harris on Ron Rivera’s job security: “We have to deliver wins on the field”

Harris was asked about how much time Rivera will get in Washington, and the answer made clear that Rivera has to prove himself to keep his job into 2024.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Coach Rivera,” Harris said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. “He’s a good man. He’s done a great job getting the team to where it is relative to where it was when he got that. We’ve said, ‘We’re getting up to speed. We want to hear how you think, we want to learn how you make decisions.’ And it’s going really well. Everyone who coaches an NFL team or an NBA team, and us as owners . . . we all realize that ultimately we have to deliver wins on the field, so you don’t really need to say anything. It’s just out there. But so far, so good.”

Rivera is heading into his fourth season as head coach of the Commanders. In his first three seasons, Rivera has gone 7-9, 7-10 and 8-8-1. A winning record appears to be a must if Rivera is going to get a fifth season at the helm.

Riggo’s Rag

3 key matchups that could decide Commanders vs. Cardinals in Week 1

These matchups will have a leading say in the overall outcome.

Commanders WR Jahan Dotson vs. Budda Baker

Yes, Budda Baker won’t be directly lined up across from Washington Commanders’ wide receiver Jahan Dotson. But he will be responsible for containing any big plays from the second-year wideout, who is expected to break out this season.

The All-Pro safety will have to lead a young Arizona Cardinals defense again this season. This comes within the locker room vocally and by making big plays on the field.

Dotson is a firecracker ready to pop when he gets the ball in his hands. His playmaking ability across the middle in space could be the blueprint to success for the Commanders’ offense with Eric Bieniemy leading the charge.

With questions about Terry McLaurin’s health heading into Washington’s regular-season opener, Dotson is getting a huge opportunity to show he has the skillset of a WR1 for the Commanders. The talent is there, but much also depends on Sam Howell under center.

If Dotson can create separation in space to help Howell out, the Commanders’ offense could find a rhythm and keep the ball moving down the field all game long. The Cardinals hope that Baker can cause confusion in the secondary, and try to rattle the signal-caller into making some bad decisions - something he’s been renowned for throughout his career.

The Athletic (paywall)

Sam Howell Q&A: Taylor Swift, the Manning brothers and his big opportunity

Whenever someone discusses your skill set, they consistently mention your strong arm. At what age did you notice you had one?

Probably when I first picked up a football. I started playing flag football when I was in first grade. Most (teams) weren’t throwing the ball deep. That’s all we were doing. So I think probably since then, I knew I had an upper hand on people, and so I’ve always tried to keep that.

Say you’re driving on a long road trip with a teammate. Who are you choosing for the ride?

Dyami Brown, for sure. He’s a North Carolina guy, but we have a great relationship, and we spent a lot of time together in college. It’s been so much fun to be on this journey with him. Every year, he gets better. I think he’s going to have a big year. I love Dyami. I’m so proud of how far he’s come. We’ve been able to do it together.

Podcasts & videos

ESPN: Ron Rivera talks impact of Magic Johnson speaking to Commanders

NFC East links

Big Blue View

Are all NFL games equally important?

Joe Schoen may have a point

“I would just say every week is important. Every team we play, we’re going to want to win those games, so whether it’s Dallas, Philadelphia, whoever it is, each game is equally important.

“No more important? They are all important.

“They are all important. I mean, we were 1-4-1 in the division last year and we made the playoffs. They are all important.”

He can’t really mean that, can he?

Perhaps Schoen was just blowing smoke. Maybe he didn’t want to put undue pressure on his team by making the opening Cowboys game a matter of life and death for the Giants’ chances this season. Maybe he feels that the roster isn’t quite there yet when it comes to competing with the likes of the Eagles.

Or maybe he was onto something. Most of us tend to see division games as elevated in importance because, well, they more directly affect the team’s chance to win the division, and because familiarity breeds contempt. If we think back to last season, though, how did the Giants get into the playoffs? If the make a very reasonable length field goal at the end of the game, or if the Jacksonville Jaguars get one more yard on their final pass play, the Giants do not make the playoffs. Neither of those was a division game.

Compare the Giants’ fate to that of the Washington Commanders, who finished 8-8-1 and missed the playoffs. Washington actually beat both Dallas and Philadelphia once last season. It did them no good because they couldn’t beat the Giants, but they still finished 2-3-1 in the division, better than the playoff-bound Giants’ 1-4-1.

NFL league links


Washington Post (paywall)

Ex-NFL player Mike Williams involved in construction-site accident

Mike Williams, a former wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills, suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a steel beam at a construction site.

Initial reports Wednesday created an impression that Williams, 36, had died in the incident. Subsequent reporting by several news outlets have since indicated Williams is on life support at a Tampa-area hospital. A spokesperson for the hospital system said he was not able to provide details regarding Williams.

A fourth-round selection by Tampa Bay in 2010, he led the team with 964 yards on 65 receptions as a rookie. He led the team with 11 touchdowns and finished second to Sam Bradford in voting for offensive rookie of the year honors.