Ron Rivera usually talks to the media after each Washington Football Team practice, but on Thursday, the squad's top three coordinators — Scott Turner, Jack Del Rio and Nate Kaczor — each held a press conference ahead of Sunday's opener versus the Chargers.
Seeing as those guys head up the Burgundy and Gold's offense, defense and special teams, they're certainly quite valuable to hear from. So, below, you'll find a major takeaway from each presser...
The takeaway from Turner: Expectations are high for Sam Cosmi
Washington will feature a new starting left and right tackle in Week 1, but the former — Charles Leno Jr. — has appeared in more than 100 NFL contests. The latter, though — Sam Cosmi — will be suiting up for his first this weekend.
When asked for his thoughts on Cosmi's development, Turner was quite positive.
"Cosmi has been outstanding," he said. "He's gotten better and better every day from when he got here in the spring. I think everyone saw the athletic measurables and everything when he got drafted. He's a real tough guy. He doesn't say very much at all and he just puts the work in and he's reaping the benefits of that because he's getting better and I think he earned his teammates' respect and trust by that."
If you're counting, that's one use of the word "outstanding" and two mentions of how much Cosmi's improved since his arrival in a mere four sentences.
Now, Turner properly went on to note that there's a "big difference" between the preseason and meaningful action in the pros, and Cosmi should see a lot of LA's nightmare edge rusher Joey Bosa on Sunday. Those two factors — the rise in competition level and Bosa's frightening presence — are going to test the lineman for sure.
Going by Turner's assessment, however, he's put himself in a position to be ready to handle the pressure.
The takeaway from Del Rio: The defenders should be more sure of themselves early on
Del Rio's unit really clamped down as the season progressed in 2020, but they weren't nearly as sharp to begin the schedule.
He's not expecting that to happen again in 2021.
"We were never looking for an alibi last year, but the reality is we feel like we're further ahead in the development, in the cohesiveness and the understanding of what we're doing, how we're doing it," Del Rio said.
Though a switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 like the one Washington experienced a season ago may not be as significant as it used to be since defenses are so often in sub-packages, it was still a transition for the bunch overall. Plus, each individual position group had new coaches teaching them the finer techniques of their jobs and highlighting different nuances.
Yes, newcomers like Jamin Davis and William Jackson III won't be as caught up as the other holdovers, yet as a whole, Del Rio's ready for a faster start in his second go-round in charge.
"It's an emphasis point," he said.
The takeaway from Kaczor: The stuff about the challenges for the kicking operation is real
Dustin Hopkins' kicking in Washington's exhibition contests was not his best work, and while Rivera defended Hopkins and chose to discuss how the operation with Tress Way and Camaron Cheeseman had to improve together, not everyone's willing to accept that as an excuse.
But Kaczor absolutely believes that inserting Cheeseman, a new long snapper, is an impactful move.
"Even if there's just a little difference that just takes some time," he said. "A preseason game is new, a warm-up is new. So, any new experience has to be worked through, and that's what we're going through this preseason."
Hopkins' poor showing in New England was a wake-up for Kaczor and his key guys, but then there was another blunder versus the Ravens that showed the problems still needed to be corrected. Any mistake from here on out, of course, will actually matter.
Kaczor, like Rivera, is optimistic that the timing issues can, and will, be solved.
"I wish it could just take one day, but it's taken some time and it's getting better and better and better," he said. "We just have to be able to perform in the new moments. And then once you develop experience together, that's invaluable."
Kickoff is set to take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Coverage begins with Washington Football Kickoff Live on NBC Sports Washington and the MyTeams app at 12 p.m. and Washington Football Postgame Live immediately following the game.