Ron Rivera passes on this necessary reminder about Washington’s rookies

Ron Rivera passes on a necessary reminder about WFT's rookies originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Ron Rivera has often shown no hesitation in his coaching career when it comes to relying on rookies to assume key roles, which is encouraging, because that trend is primed to continue this season in Washington.

As Rivera’s team gets set to take on the Chargers this Sunday at FedEx Field, the coach is expected to start first-year pros at linebacker (Jamin Davis) and right tackle (Sam Cosmi).

Beyond that pair, Rivera is also slated to give crucial snaps to a debuting receiver (Dyami Brown) and cornerback (Benjamin St-Juste).

Hell, even the long snapper (Camaron Cheeseman) is completely new to the NFL.

During a post-practice press conference on Monday, Rivera was asked specifically for his opinion on Davis’ development. After evaluating the first-rounder, though, he wanted to make a point about the 2021 draft class as a whole.

“He seems very ready, but you know, again, he’s still a work in progress,” Rivera said. “Just because we’re starting the regular season doesn’t mean the rookies stop learning. I mean, Sam Cosmi is still learning, Benjamin St.-Juste is still learning, Dyami Brown is still learning. But they’re ready to go.”

In many ways, for sure, these guys are “ready to go.”

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Davis and Brown, for example, possess top-notch speed for their positions, a quality that’ll allow them to thrive on any given sequence. Cosmi and St-Juste, meanwhile, simply look like difference-makers, as they each stand out in their respective units thanks to their size and how they use that size to their advantage.

Those things — the traits that Washington’s rookies brought with them to the Burgundy and Gold — aren’t the things that Rivera doubts.

Instead, he seemed anxious solely about how his rookies will fare with cerebral portion of their jobs.

“Their mental approach will be what’s a little more important because we know they can do things physically, but it’s about now handling the situation and getting ready to play and get on the football field,” Rivera said.

St-Juste touched on that line of thinking in his Monday presser, too.

“You can ball all you want but if you don’t know your stuff and the coaches don’t trust you, I don’t think they’re going to put you on the field,” he said.

Now, none of this is meant to erase or dull the extreme optimism surrounding the likes of Davis or Cosmi or Dax Milne or Jaret Patterson or any other of Washington’s freshest faces.

After all, Rivera and the front office acquired them with the belief that they’ll contribute to victories, and the league isn’t going to wait until they settle in.

Remember, however, that there’ll be miscommunications, missed assignments and other additional growing pains for the 2021 haul of players. They’re unfortunately inevitable. As challenging as the SEC or Big Ten can be, those conferences aren’t the NFC.

Ultimately, this collection of talent should mature to a place where they can consistently be better than their opponents. It may just take a handful of weeks, months or even a season or two for that to come true depending on the individual. 

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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