Expectations are high as Rivera enters third year at the helm of the Commanders

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera speaks during a media availability at the team’s NFL football training facility, Tuesday, July 26, 2022 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Year three of the Ron Rivera era in Washington is officially underway as Commanders’ training camp kicks off on Wednesday.

Players reported to Ashburn, Virginia, on Tuesday for their on-field conditioning test and check-in for camp. Here’s what else you need to know.

Who’s on the PUP list

There are no surprises regarding who is starting camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Defensive end Chase Young (ACL), tight end Logan Thomas (ACL/MCL), center Chase Roullier (fractured fibula) and center Tyler Larsen (Achilles) continue to recover from their respective injuries.

Tackle Cornelius Lucas has been placed on the non-football injury list.

Rivera said that of the four players starting camp on the PUP list, Roullier has the chance to come off first, while Young will probably take the most time.

“He had a serious injury, and he had it late in the year,” Rivera said of Young.

Young said earlier this offseason that he expects to be ready for Week 1, but Rivera is not committing to that schedule.

“I do know, he said he expected to be there from the beginning, but that’s an unfair expectation. You put pressure on people to try and accomplish that and get to where they’re supposed to be before they should be, and it could cause something,” Rivera said. “With Chase, and for the most part all those guys, when they’re ready, they’ll be back on the football field.”

High expectations

Since the end of last season, Rivera has mentioned numerous times that he expects to take the next step going into his third year, a critical season for the Commanders.

“My expectations when we first came out of the regular season from last year going forward, now having a quarterback of Carson [Wentz] stature, Carson’s ability,” he said.

“We kind of changed our focus a little bit, so I’m pretty excited to see where we are exactly as a football team. Now that we’ll be in pads, we’ll have preseason to gauge some things off of. But I do like where we are. I do like who we are, and I like our potential.”

Asked if it’s fair to say this was a playoff or bust year, Rivera said, “No, it’s not.”

“It’s fair to say we expect to win,” he said.

New sheriff in town at quarterback

It’s no secret that Washington’s biggest offseason acquisition was quarterback Carson Wentz. As a result, the Commanders do not have a quarterback controversy but instead have a veteran signal-caller with a track record of winning football games.

It’s an entirely different mindset for Washington’s offense heading into training camp, knowing that the most important position on the field is in experienced hands, unlike in previous seasons. Rivera said settling the quarterback position has given the team a spark right from the first practice.

“I think there’s some optimism, obviously,” Rivera said. “I think that’s a huge plus when you can have something that everybody looks at and say, ‘Wow. OK, with this, it’s different.’ And that’s kind of how it is when you look at a guy like Carson.”

Rivera spent some time with Carson when he arrived on Tuesday at the Commanders’ training facility.

“I just wanted to reiterate more so than anything else is he was wanted here,” he said. “That was one of the first things I told him when he came into the building. When I shook his hand, when he came through that door, I said, ‘hey, you were wanted here.’

“And I think that’s important because when you do some of the research and look at some of the things, if we get the guy that has that type of ability that he’s shown in the past, I think it could help us and make us a solid formidable team to play against.”

George Wallace

George Wallace is the WTOP sports director. He began at WTOP on Christmas Day of 2000.

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