Washington Commanders: 5 things Ron Rivera said after rookie minicamp – USA Today

The Washington Commanders opened rookie minicamp on Friday with all eight of the team’s rookies in uniform for the first time. Washington’s eight draftees, along with 13 undrafted free agents and a handful of others, were in camp on a tryout basis.
After seeing his rookies practice as NFL players for the first time, Washington head coach Ron Rivera spoke to the media. Rivera discussed everything he saw on the field Friday and some of his team’s remaining needs after the draft and signing veteran Trai Turner and Alex Erickson earlier this week.
Here are five topics of interest Rivera discussed after Friday’s practice.
Washington Commanders tight end Cole Turner (85) catches a pass during Washington Commanders rookie minicamp at Inova Performance Center In Ashburn, VA. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Rivera was excited when he discussed rookie fifth-round pick Cole Turner after the draft. After seeing Turner on the field for the first time as a Commander, Rivera said the following:
“When you see him out here moving, he’s a big body, moves well and presents a good target. Like we talked about, he’s a guy that’s gonna help us.”
He wasn’t done.
“I mean, Cole Turner is gonna, wow a lot of guys just because of his athleticism and his size and his ability to run, and he’s also shown us even though we’re not in pads watching his technique as far as blocking, I think he’s gonna surprise some people with that,” Rivera said.
Turner is going to help Washington in 2022.
Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz and head coach Ron Rivera. Mandatory Credit: John McCreary-USA TODAY Sports
Each time Rivera talks about new quarterback Carson Wentz, he is excited about what the veteran passer can do for the Commanders this season. On Friday, Rivera discussed seeing Wentz with his new teammates:
“It’s been really good to watch Carson throw the ball to the tight end, to the wide receivers and the backs,” Rivera said. “I mean, it’s a good group of guys we feel, and it’s been a lot of fun watching them. There is some excitement to Carson out there, big strong arm. We really haven’t done anything where we’ve been able to really rip the ball downfield.”
Late last season, it was clear the Commanders needed a true middle (Mike) linebacker. The coaches wanted someone in the middle who could be the defensive signal-caller, allowing Cole Holcomb to play his more natural position of outside linebacker.
However, general manager Martin Mayhew said Holcomb was a contender to play middle linebacker, and Rivera seemingly agreed, discussing Holcomb’s progress. Washington didn’t pursue a Mike linebacker in free agency or one in the NFL draft, which backed up what both Rivera and Mayhew said.
Rivera said Holcomb is the internal favorite to start in the middle:
Well internally right now, we’re looking at giving Cole [Holcomb] the opportunity to continue there,” Rivera said. “We thought he did some really good things, especially down the stretch.”
The team had a personnel meeting after the draft and Rivera acknowledged the linebacker position is one where the Commanders may look to add a veteran.
Well, I think if we’re looking at one position, it is gonna be linebacker,” he said. “We have a good number of guys here. We’re very pleased with the number of guys we have here, but we don’t have another veteran-type guy once we get past Khaleke [Hudson], so right now we’re just too deep. We’d like to get a few more guys to be a bit deeper there.”
I would expect Washington to add a linebacker, but I doubt it’s a high-profile addition.
 
Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera (R) talks with Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) during Washington Commanders rookie minicamp at Inova Performance Center In Ashburn, VA. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Rivera discussed rookie QB Sam Howell and his learning curve this season.
“I think he’ll be okay. I really do,” Rivera said. “I think he and [QB] Cole Kelley, the other quarterback we brought in are two guys that we did pay a lot of attention to. Both guys are really football-smart, football savvy guys. And I don’t think either one of ’em is gonna have a huge learning curve. But I think they’re young guys that aren’t gonna have any timeframe where they have to hurry to get anything done.”
This week, Washington signed veteran offensive guard Trai Turner and wide receiver/returner Alex Erickson. Turner should start at right guard in 2022, or at the very least, compete with Wes Schweitzer.
Erickson was signed more for his ability to return kicks and punts.
How does each impact the roster in 2022?
“Just some veteran presence,” Rivera said. “The biggest thing about Trai is it kind of solidifies the fact that we have 10 guys that we really believe are guys that can give us that veteran experience. Again, one of the things that we try to do is we want to make sure if we’re gonna be strong, we gotta make sure we stay strong and that’s having good depth on the offensive line.”
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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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