Commanders players face a familiar challenge: focusing on football

Commanders players face a familiar challenge: focusing on football


At the Washington Commanders team facility on Thursday, coach Ron Rivera kicked off another team meeting by addressing yet another controversy. The previous night, in a statement criticizing the DC Attorney General, the team referenced the August shooting of running back Brian Robinson Jr. Later, after Robinson’s agent convicted the team of having used his client as a pawn in his legal battle, the commanders released another statement, saying the subjects should have remained “separate and separate.”

In the locker room, Robinson said he tried to ignore the statement but found it harder to move on after the shooting.

“It’s tough, but personally I have to be stronger than what I’m up against,” he said, adding, “I would like it to stop.”

When asked if they mind seeing the organization use Robinson’s tragedy, most COs echoed Rivera’s message that they should control what they can control and focus on the Eagles of Philadelphia, their next opponent. But left tackle Charles Leno Jr. didn’t

“Everyone wants to be [politically correct]but of course it’s upsetting,” he said. “[Robinson] should never have been part of this situation. …His feelings and what he’s been through should be a completely separate matter.

All of the squad members who spoke to the media, including Leno and Rivera, insisted the situation would not jeopardize their preparation for Monday night’s game. Washington probably needs that to be true because playing undefeated Philadelphia, a full team led by quarterback and MVP contender Jalen Hurts, will be one of the team’s toughest tests this season. The challenge was highlighted at the start of team drills on Thursday, when loudspeakers played the noise of the crowd.

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But a few players have acknowledged the endless scandals that carry them. In a recent interview with Le Journal de Québec, a French-language daily in Quebec City, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste said there has been “a dark cloud” over Washington since his arrival in 2021 and that it would be great to have “a fresh start.”

On Thursday, St-Juste’s comments were widely shared on social media, reportedly in response to Robinson’s situation. But St-Juste said he did the interview last week. He explained by saying that the endless distractions frustrated him because they rushed in like a “mood killer” whenever the team gained positive momentum. The hardest part, he said, was that he felt unable to provide insight into franchise operations and ownership.

“I don’t have the answers, but I’m talking about it,” he said. “Can we talk about how we play defensively? »

“Every week it seems like something pops up,” quarterback Taylor Heinicke said. “But us players, I think we’re doing a good job of just muting that.”

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When Leno said the team couldn’t be distracted by this situation, he stopped.

“How many times have I said it?” He asked. “It’s always stuff here. But you have to keep the basics – and we just want to focus on the football. It’s very difficult to do that. But that’s our job.”

Over two seasons in Washington, Leno said he learned a lesson: “You have to be really insensitive here.”

Wide star Terry McLaurin said when problems arise, he tells his young teammates to try not to pay attention. He said part of being a professional is having the ability to deal with challenges on and off the pitch, and that “is part of the job, unfortunately, whether it has anything to do with you or Nope”. He said he didn’t want to comment on the team using Robinson’s name in his statement until he discussed it with Robinson himself.

“But at the end of the day, he’s one of us, so…we’re going to protect him,” McLaurin added.

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During his press conference, Rivera said he viewed the team using Robinson’s name in his statement as interesting, not important. He said his players should “focus on what we do, what is important for what we do”.

“The players seem to be well placed,” Rivera added. “I have an open door policy. If they want to come and talk to me about it, I told them to come and talk to me about it. And to this day no one has spoken to me. I’ve spoken to Brian last night, I spoke to him again today. Brian is in a good position. Brian didn’t understand what the big fuss was.”

Rivera said he was not involved in drafting either statement; Wednesday evening, he returned to Virginia after a trip to California for the funeral of his mother, Dolores Rivera-Munoz, who died last week.

In Navigation Challenges this season, Rivera has often spoken of his mother’s influence, and that seemed particularly relevant on Thursday.

“It’s funny because my mom was going through a lot, she didn’t want me to know, and I was the last one to know,” he said. “That’s kind of how mom was. Growing up in the military, being an army officer’s wife, there were a lot of things, a lot of responsibilities that you had, and she did it. One of them was protecting the troops.

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