LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - January 2nd. That's the last time News 3, or any local media outlet, was on-hand at the Washington Football Team's facility in Ashburn.
On that day, Ron Rivera was introduced as new head coach of the Washington NFL team. And when trying to wrap your head around everything that's happened between then and now, you'd need a helmet. Tuesday, the team did - as it practiced in full pads for the first time this training camp.
"That is exciting," admitted first-year head coach Ron Rivera. "I do get excited about it. I had Jonathan Allen come up to me after a couple periods and say, ‘How much do you miss it? I know you wish you could still do it.’ He’s right. I do wish I could still do it.
We miss it, too.
Tuesday's workout is not only the first in pads, but the first open to media since the end of last season. News 3, Hampton Roads' home of the Washington Football Team, is part of a select group of reporters on-hand for an initial look at Rivera running a practice. It's also our inaugural glimpse of the team's top rookie: number two overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Chase Young.
"As far as the individuals that looked good out there, I was very pleased with [DE] Montez [Sweat] and [DE] Chase [Young]," Rivera admitted. "I think we’ve got a good group of young, young guys."
Not everything was new out on the field, though. Returning starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Jr. took the bulk of first-team reps. Alex Smith, 21 months removed from a devastating leg injury, is incredibly taking part in team activities. As far as which QB wins the job? Rivera's decision is about decisions.
"We look at this offense and with these quarterbacks, with all of these quarterbacks, we’re going to talk about decision making more than we’re going to be talking about anything else," Rivera noted. "I think that’s really important. I think that’s really, really important.”
Rivera is unlikely to name his starting quarterback anytime soon. And after an offseason loaded with off-the-field headlines amid a global pandemic, letting this on-the-field storyline play out might not be a terrible idea.