ASHBURN — Sunday’s matchup against the 0-5 Giants will test the validity of Washington coach Ron Rivera’s statement that his team can be competitive in the NFC East this season.
That’s led to a busy week of practice, with a number of key changes and critiques from Rivera, who pilots the 1-4 nickname-less Football Team.
On the offensive line, it seems likely Sunday will mark the Washington debut for rookie Saahdiq Charles, of LSU, who missed most of training camp because of injury. Charles is a tackle, but has been practicing this week at the guard position.
“Right now I think this is a move a little bit out of need,” Rivera said, noting that Charles’ future remains at the tackle position.
At linebacker, the return of Cole Holcomb may bolster another group that fared poorly in a loss to the Rams. There’s also the possibility of safety Kamren Curl stepping up and playing more at the position, or even Landon Collins moving into the box for some snaps.
“If there’s one position on the defensive side I’d like to see a little bit more from, it’s the linebacker position,” Rivera said. “We’ve given up some plays, in my opinion, that can be directly related to that position. I’d like to see that position play better for us.”
There’s also the month’s biggest switch, at the quarterback position, where Kyle Allen will get his second start in place of Dwayne Haskins.
Washington offensive lineman Morgan Moses (Meadowbrook, UVa) said the benching was tough, but he appreciated the honesty with which Rivera tackled it.
“He sat in front of the team and said there was going to be this decision, there were going to be some things that were changing, and he was going to be visiting the [position groups] and just kind of sharing what he feels needs to happen,” Moses said.
“So when you have a coach like that, who is honest and up front with you about it ... obviously that’s a hard pill to swallow when somebody tells you you’re not doing (well), but at the end of the day you respect that person, because instead of having somebody else tell you, he’s sitting there telling it to your face.”
Moses agreed with Rivera’s assessment of the NFC East as a division that’s up for grabs, noting injuries to New York’s Saquon Barkley and Dak Prescott in Dallas.
“I know we’re losing right now, but it’s just been a breath of fresh air to come in this building and have a guy like Ron Rivera involved in our coaching staff here,” he said.
Those good feelings will be put on the line Sunday, against a Giants team that is favored by 3 points despite not having won a game this season.
Rivera is making the moves he perceives necessary to push Washington back into the win column.
Haskins misses practice again
Haskins once again missed practice on Thursday with an illness.
Rivera dismissed the thought that Haskins’ absences have become a distraction.
“A young man’s feeling ill and we’ve got to respect that and make sure that he’s getting the proper care and he’ll be back when he’s getting better and feeling healthier,” Rivera said.
“I mean it. The only time it becomes a distraction is when you guys are talking about it.”