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Interview: Washington Football DC Jack Del Rio

ASHBURN, VA -- Washington Football Team defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio spoke to the media after Thursday afternoon's practice at WFT Park.

On acting as head coach if Head Coach Ron Rivera has to step out: “Well, the biggest thing—I mentioned to Coach, whatever he needs I’m prepared to fully support him. We’ve spoken and discussed the possibility of there being a need for me to step in. I’ve just assured him that he’s put together a good staff and we kind of had our marching orders and we know what’s expected of us. He can anticipate that we’d carry on.” On if he would emulate Rivera’s style: “Yeah, fortunately we’re pretty close. We in a lot of cases see things very similarly and I understand what he wants. He’s been great about communicating what he wants and what he’s looking for. We would just carry on.” On areas that need improvement: “Well, we’re just attacking it and looking for improvement everywhere. Every aspect, everything that we touch, we’re trying to put our input on it, make the guys feel as if we have energy every day, that we go attack our jobs every day and get a little bit better. In all three levels of our defense in particular for me, there’s a need to grow. In the front, at the linebacker level, at the second level and in the back end we’re pushing them. We’re coming along. We’re making strides. We still have a lot of work that we have to do. So, that’s what we’re doing—just pushing every day.” On players recovering as they transition to the regular season: “As Week 1 approaches, it’s always we need our best guys out there. That’s never not been the case. So, I think we went through camp, I think we were pretty productive in our camp, we looked to manage things the best we could. We just approached it that way where the guys that are able to go, go, and the guys that need to not go are not going. The trainers obviously do a great job with that. [Head Athletic Trainer Ryan Vermillion] does a tremendous job providing information each day for us to adjust our workloads on and share the work when we can and eliminate the things that we need to. I think we’ve done a really good job of adapting to the situation as it develops.” On if the defensive line needs to lead the defense: “Not really, I don’t really look at it that way. I don’t think the D-line in particular think they need to do anything other than do their jobs. So, for us it’s about developing the mentality each guy understands where he belongs and where it fits and how it ties together and how you impact your teammates. You want to be a positive impact on your teammates. I don’t want us doing anything more than that. We don’t need to try to do extra. We just need to do our job. Job number one for our defense is to not let the opponent score, and job number two is get the ball back for your offense as early as possible, as quick as possible. That’s what we have to do; limit points and get the ball back for our offense. We’re going to work hard to do that.” On what he’s seen from S Troy Apke: “Well, I think we’ll talk about spots and what are locked down when the season starts and people see it for real. I think at this point, Troy has done a nice job. You can see he’s gaining confidence every day. He’s working hard at understanding our system and where he belongs in the system and getting his job done. Yeah, he’s worked on all the fine points in playing that position. I think [assistant defensive backs coach Richard Rodgers] has done a nice job with the safety position and [defensive backs coach] Chris Harris with the secondary overall and us developing the confidence and understanding where we belong and where we need to show up for each other. That’s what we’re working hard at; communication and understanding where we belong, how we’re able to play with certain leverages in different defenses and being able to do our job. Troy’s had a nice camp.” On if communication in the defensive backfield has improved: “Yeah, and I don’t want to refer backwards. I don’t see any benefit in that. I know we don’t have a preseason to talk about, so we have a tendency to want to go back and discuss last season. I would just say that our job is to make sure we understand how we all fit together, where we all belong, what our responsibilities are, what we need to be seeing to get our jobs done and make sure we’re locked in and we work with great focus. That’s really been the approach. We’re making strides. That’s not like something I’m pushing for now that I won’t be pushing for next week or the week after or the week after that. I’ll be pushing for that every day.” On how defenses will be affected without preseason games: “You’re entering a little bit of the unknown, so that’s a little bit exciting. We’ll see how it plays out. We’re working every day. Every rep we take in practice we are looking to develop the skills necessary to get population around the ball and to attack with the proper leverage. So, we’ve been working at it. We don’t actually get to go to the ground, but I don’t believe that you actually have to get to the ground to understand and teach and develop how to get it done. We’re working hard at it. We’ll see how well we did with our teaching when we start the season. I anticipate we’ll tackle at a high level. I think if you want to play good defense, you have to tackle.” On how Rivera has handled the offseason: “I think you just look at—Coach Rivera does a great job of being authentic. He communicates very directly with staff and players. To me, in this business if you get it straight whether you like the information or not, I think you can accept that as a man. I think he’s created that and is beginning to create that kind of culture here. That’s what we’re looking to develop. We want our men to act like men and do the right things for the team. That’s been the basic message that he reinforces every chance he gets and I don’t suspect that will stop. I love it. He’s consistent. He’s a very straight talker. I think we all appreciate that.” On how difficult it is to keep composure as a head coach: “I think we’re all going to show emotions. We’re people. That’s normal. Each guy has to be true to who he is and I think Ron’s very true to who he is.” On what T David Sharpe can bring to Washington: “That’s going to be up to David. He’s got an NFL offensive tackle body. He’s a big man. He’s been blessed. The Good Lord gave him plenty of traits that you look for in an offensive lineman. So, he’s bounced a little in his short time in the league. If he wants to stick, then the urgency and the application consistently of the things he’s capable of doing has to occur. So, that’s up to him. But, he’s got potential. To me, this league is more about performance than potential. So, he’s getting another opportunity. At some point—and he knows this—at some point, you run out of those opportunities if you don’t take advantage of them. I suspect he’ll come in here and give us everything he has.”

On who stood out on defense during training camp:

“Well, I’m not going to do scouting for our opponents at this point. I hope you understand that. There have been pleasant surprises throughout. I’m looking forward to us getting out on the field and competing against our opponents.”

On the biggest difference being a head coach for the second time:

“Well, I can’t really speak for Ron. You definitely have clarity the second time around. I think we all grow and gain wisdom and understanding of things that you did and things that you had success with when it comes to dealing with players, when it comes to scheduling, when it comes to dealing with your staff, when it comes to dealing with personnel, when it comes to dealing with the media. There are so many different aspects that go into being a head coach. So, I think your second time around you’re just a lot wiser—at least you have an opportunity to be.”

On being with a team long-term:

“I think the experience is a positive one. You apply the things that you learned. It’s a great job when you have it. It’s a demanding job. I think it’s important that staff does everything they can—staff and players do

everything they can—to be on the same page with the head coach and give him what they’re looking for. That’s what we’re looking to do here.”

On LB Cole Holcomb:

“He’s one of our young players. He’s done well, had a good camp. I think he’s—like several of our young players—we just want to develop him and have him continue to grow. It’s a competitive linebacker room that he’s working in. We’ll see when we work our way through it how it all shakes out.”

On evaluating the linebackers:

“I think certainly with the group that we’ve worked with—I think we have a pretty good understanding of likely what we would go. We still have a little more time before we actually get there and have really close battles that continue to play out.”

On what the fans can expect from the defense:

“I think the fans can be excited about us getting beyond our potential and beginning to perform. The way you perform is you play fast on defense and you tackle the right way. We’re going to play fast. Guys are going to know what to do and they’re going to go there fast and we’re going to tackle when we get there. Those are the things that we’re focused on and that’s what we’re all about.”

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