WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Washington Football Team’s (no that is not a typo) head coach Ron Rivera participated in a press conference (remotely) as Washington begins training camp today.
Washington has had an assortment of off-season headlines including COVID-19, the “Black Lives Matter” movement, a name change, the Washington Post article and key players returning from injury.
“The thing I really want is that we have an open-door policy,” Rivera said in regards to what he plans to implement into the new culture of the Washington franchise. “I said that in my first interviews, my first press conference, I said that in a couple of the town hall meetings we have had as an organization...A lot of those things occurred and it sounded like people were afraid to speak up and I hope we don’t have that kind of culture here.”
Rivera said that the pandemic more than anything else has affected his relationship with the team because he has not gotten a chance to interact with the team and build chemistry.
“Well I think the only thing that really affected us more than anything else was the pandemic, Rivera said. That’s kind of the one thing because we didn’t get the chance to have any OTAs or mini camps and be with our players in person. I mean, you know we had guys who were coming in for their COVID tests this morning and you know, I didn’t recognize them, they had their masks on too which made it even harder to recognize. That was probably the hardest part, but all the other stuff, you know the name change and the Washington Post story, you know those are things that we deal with and we move forward. There were a lot of reasons why I was excited to be here and the situation we've been going through for the last couple of months hasn't dampened it.”
Quarterback Alex Smith, who suffered a gruesome right leg injury in the 2018 season that required 17 surgeries, was given the okay to participate in football activity. He and linebacker Reuben Foster (torn ACL and LCL) were placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on July 27 so the team can mark their progress and have them start the season on the list. After training camp begins players cannot be assigned to the PUP list.
“We feel pretty confident about what they’ve done. We thought they both had very good off-seasons in terms of their rehab programs,” Rivera said of what he needs to continue to see for the players to get off the PUP list. “They both look extremely good right now, but again, you really don’t know until you get them out on the field pounding and doing football-specific drills. Then, we’ve got to see how their injuries react. Again, this is just all part of being able to pass a football physical.”
Rivera also noted his positive relationship with team owner Dan Snyder.
“I think it’s been good. We’ve talked a lot, we’ve communicated a lot. It’s been one where we’ve talked every day for half an hour to an hour,” Rivera said. “It’s been kind of cool because he’s asked my opinions on a lot of things, he’s asked me what I thought more so than what would normally happen. So, I think that’s been a good thing when it comes to developing a working relationship and any relationship period. I feel comfortable and confident.”
The changes to training camp for Washington include not hosting training camp in Richmond as scheduled, they will be hosting camp at the team’s practice facility with no fans and almost no media.
The first few days of camp will mainly consist of COVID training and testing, with practice not starting until the "Gradual ramp-up period" (Aug. 12-16).