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How 15 minutes at the Combine really helped Ron Rivera connect with Chase Young

How 15 minutes at the Combine really helped Ron Rivera connect with Chase Young

Judging by the glowing remarks that have come out about Chase Young since the Redskins officially chose him second overall in the NFL Draft, plus the overall dismissal of any discussions regarding trading down, it sure seems like Young was Washington's target ever since Ron Rivera took over.

However, Rivera had the chance to describe how one unexpected conversation with the defender at the Combine assisted in making the selection of Young an even clearer one.

On Thursday night, about three hours after welcoming the 21-year-old on to the Burgundy and Gold as the first pick under his watch, the coach was happy to elaborate.

"He had kind of a little glitch in his schedule where he had an extra 15 minutes, so I went over and kind of nestled up to him away from everybody and we had a nice personal conversation just between the two of us," Rivera told local reporters on a Zoom call. "That 15 minutes really helped me in terms of just solidifying who he was for us."

Anyone with access to a screen and some Buckeyes highlights immediately sees the kind of havoc Young can create on the field. Rivera and the Redskins, who had already been studying Young for at least a few months before heading to Indianapolis for the Combine, were probably as aware of that as anyone in the league.

Why that specific interaction was so key, though, is because it allowed Rivera to learn about the personality and mindset of the athlete behind the impressive footage, an important yet onerous task made even more onerous by the strange offseason that's unfolded. Two guys got the opportunity to talk face-to-face, a simple concept that hasn't been so simple recently, and Rivera no doubt approved of what he learned in those moments.

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Kyle Smith, the team's VP of Player Personnel, arrived to a similar conclusion — one where he, too, was enamored with Young's makeup — by chatting with those who've been around the defensive end.

"It’s the school call and it’s the way that everybody around that building talks about him," Smith said. "He just continued to grow and mature since he stepped foot on that campus. He’s a perfectionist, he’s a self-starter, all the things you look for in a football player, he’s got, and he’s wired the right way. So that part of it made me more confident."

One thing Rivera is very obviously looking to accomplish as he sets out to make winning a more regular occurrence in Washington is building a roster full of quality, focused people. Their speed, their tackling and their ability to high point a pass on the weekend all certainly matter to the 58-year-old, but he also craves a locker room that features those who align with his vision and beliefs.

In Young, Rivera has found someone who satisfies that goal.

"He’s an easy going, soft-spoken young man, but then you watch him on tape and you see the energy level in which he plays with, you see the desire, the drive, the push," he said. "Then, you sit down and talk to him about those things and watch his eyes light up when he talks about being on the field, so there were a lot of positives."

Those positives really appeared in a 15-minute discussion in Indy. And now, Rivera will have a lot more time than that to appreciate those positives in the future.

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Washington WR Kelvin Harmon hopes his comeback season is similar to Adrian Peterson's

Washington WR Kelvin Harmon hopes his comeback season is similar to Adrian Peterson's

Washington's wide receiver depth took a crucial blow on Tuesday, when rising second-year pass-catcher Kelvin Harmon announced he had surgery last week to repair a torn ACL, and thus, will miss the 2020 season.

However, rather than dwelling on his current status, Harmon took to Twitter to say he's already focused on his comeback season in 2021. And luckily for the wideout, there's someone in the team's locker room he can look to for support on how to overcome the devastating knee injury, as well as how to come back even better than before.

What Harmon is referring to is current Washington running back Adrian Peterson's 2012 season, when the now 35-year-old was the suiting up for the Minnesota Vikings. In Week 16 of the 2011 season, Peterson ruptured his ACL (ironically at FedEx Field), leaving many to wonder if the running back would ever return to the dominant form he was prior to the injury.

Yet, the future Hall of Famer fully recovered from his ACL injury in less than eight months, missing no regular-season games in the process. Peterson then put together the best season of his career, rushing for 2,097 yards (just eight short of Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season record) and 12 touchdowns while leading Minnesota to the playoffs.

Additionally, Peterson earned MVP honors that season, which is the last time a non-QB has taken home the award.

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Prior to Tuesday's announcement, Harmon was poised for a breakout second season with Washington. The wideout came onto the scene late for Washington as a rookie, notching 23 of his 30 catches a season ago after Dwayne Haskins became the starting quarterback.

Plus, Harmon had earned plenty of praise from his teammates this offseason and was expected to compete for the team's No. 2 pass-catcher opposite of Terry McLaurin.

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For Harmon, returning with a 2012 Peterson-like season next year is a high bar to set for himself, especially since the running back's effort that year was one of the best single-seasons by an individual in the league's history.

But perhaps by having Peterson by his side, Harmon can snag a few tips from the running back to set himself up for a stellar 2021 season in Washington.

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Kevin Blackistone on Dan Snyder: 'He’s either got to change the name or get out of the league'

Kevin Blackistone on Dan Snyder: 'He’s either got to change the name or get out of the league'

Following Washington's statement on Monday that the current team name would be retired, The Washington Post Columnist and ESPN panelist Kevin Blackistone shared his problems with the release on Twitter.

On Monday during an interview on ESPN 92.9FM's Jason & John Show, Blackistone elaborated on the issues he took with the statement.

“My first thought was ‘Where’s the apology?’ My second thought was, ‘This is disingenuous because you still got the letterhead on here with the name just glaring,'" Blackistone said.

Blackistone, who is also a professor at the University of Maryland, had mentioned the non-existent apology in his tweet. The fact that the team name and logo which are being retired were still used in a release describing the change that was coming made him believe that the team truly didn't care. That is something Blackistone feels became even more evident when one considers how the new team name is being chosen.

Among all the options for Washington's moniker -- which is meant to honor the heritage and tradition of the franchise -- that have been considered, Blackistone noted that to his knowledge the Native American community has reportedly not been involved much in the decision.

"And my third thought was, ‘What do you have to say about the name that you’re considering given that you haven’t even given voice to, or given an ear to, the native folks who you’ve insulted since buying the team 21 years ago and having the opportunity to do this before,'" Blackistone said.

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Blackistone was not along in taking issue with the statement. The Sports Junkies felt it answered no questions, ESPN's Michael Wilbon called it "annoying" and "tone-deaf" and ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio saw it as "one final act of defiance" by team owner Dan Snyder

The combination of all the missing elements from the statement made it less impactful for Blackistone. Despite it being a big moment, there wasn't much to take away from the team's announcement

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That's something that Blackistone believes comes from the reasoning behind the name change in the first place. Washington has heard the backlash about the name for years, but it wasn't until big-name sponsors took issue that impacted the monetary situation of the league that real moves were made. Blackistone sees that as a symbol that Snyder's decision to change the name has nothing to do with right vs. wrong.

“There’s nothing altruistic about what’s going on," Blackistone said about Snyder. "He’s being forced at the point of bayonets to change the team.”

“Basically sponsors, not individual team sponsors, but sponsors for the team via the NFL," Blackistone said. "Which means, now it’s just not your pockets, but the other 31 owners pockets that are starting to be hurting. That’s why the move is being made." 

All Blackistone had to do to understand Snyder's true opinion on the name change is look back to what the owner has said about the situation in the past. The only difference to Blackistone now is that if Snyder continued to speak in the same manner, some believe it would result in Snyder losing the team.

“This is a guy who seven years ago infamously said he would never change the name, and you could put ‘never’ in caps," Blackistone said. Well, never has come home to roost and he’s either got to change the name or get out of the league.”

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