Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera knows veteran guard Trai Turner well. After all, it was Rivera and the Carolina Panthers who made Turner a third-round pick in 2014. Turner spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with the Panthers, earning five consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.
When Rivera was fired late in the 2019 season, it wasn’t long before Turner followed him out of Charlotte. In 2020, Turner was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers, where he started nine games before he was released last March.
Turner signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers last offseason, where he started all 17 games.
The veteran guard was back on the market this offseason, and the Commanders had an opening. The match with Turner and his old offensive line coach, John Matsko, appeared perfect. So Turner signed a one-year deal with Washington with the expectation he would replace Brandon Scherff at right guard in 2022.
Unfortunately for Turner, he’s been bothered by a quad injury for all of training camp, leaving many to wonder if he’d be replaced by the dependable and versatile Wes Schweitzer at right guard.
On Wednesday, Rivera discussed Turner’s injury and the plan for him.
“He’s dealing with a quad, and he’s a veteran guy,” Rivera said. “I mean, if he were a younger guy, he’d probably be doing a lot more than he’s done right now. Because he’s a veteran guy, he knows our system. He knows the techniques that we need. There’s not a need to push him out there a lot sooner. He’s doing a lot of work inside. Today was what I think was the first day he was really outside doing some work.”
Rivera’s explanation makes perfect sense. A veteran offensive lineman, particularly one the head coach and his staff know well, can limit his reps throughout camp and still be ready for Week 1.
With the head coach saying if Turner were a young guy, he’d probably be doing more, that tells you everything you need to know about Turner’s health. Long-term, he appears fine.
As for the preseason, Rivera would still like to see him get some action.
Well, we’d like to get him in at least one,” Rivera said. “Get a nice series, get himself ready because conditioning is very important. Yeah. Again, we expect him probably out here and probably within the next 10 days.”
The Commanders are counting on a pair of experienced veteran guards in Turner and Andrew Norwell to get them through the 2022 season.