As part of our Redskins 2020 Offseason Update presented by Bud Light Seltzer, we're focusing on linebacker Cole Holcomb in our Player Spotlight feature brought to you by our friends at Acronis.
As they started talking, the conversation started to flow more and more. By the time they were done, Holcomb was surprised to learn they had been together for three hours and the sun had already set.
"I was having so much fun with it," Holcomb told Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael. "It was a good conversation. … I think this coaching change is going to be a good thing."
Judging by the fact that he used to have a Fat Head of Luke Kuechly in his room, one can assume that Holcomb holds Rivera and how he has helped develop linebackers in high regard. Now Rivera is Holcomb's head coach as he enters his second NFL season, and Holcomb plans to learn as much as possible from the coaches and players Rivera has brought with him.
Holcomb has looked up to Kuechly dating all the way back to his high school days at New Smyrna Beach in Florida. For a player with a similar build -- Holcomb is listed as two inches shorter and two pounds heavier -- Kuechly is more than a solid example for him, as he made seven consecutive Pro Bowls and earned first-team All-Pro honors five times.
Naturally, Holcomb has watched film on Kuechly for most of his athletic career. Now that he has Rivera working with him, that same film he used to watch has a more profound meaning.
"Having [Rivera] explain what he's looking at, what he's going through, you can only guess when you're just watching the film," Holcomb said. "Having a coach there who has been with him, and then he can actually explain what they're doing and it makes sense. It's nice being able to see that."
Not only will Holcomb have the coach that drafted Kuechly, but he will also have Thomas Davis Sr. -- who played alongside Kuechly for all but one season of his eight-year career -- to mentor him. As a 14-year veteran, Davis has accomplished a lot in his own right as a three-time Pro Bowler with 1,210 tackles, 13 interceptions and 29 sacks.
Ironically, one of Holcomb's teammates at North Carolina, Andre Smith, looked up to Davis and studied his film prior to being drafted by the Panthers in 2018. Now, Holcomb is the one who gets the chance to work with Davis, and he's already impressed with what he has seen in virtual meetings.
"Thomas is a great dude," he said. "He's a very smart player."
Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have both lauded Davis' intelligence and leadership. Del Rio, who said the Redskins have an "interesting mix" of linebackers, sounds anxious to see what will happen by putting Holcomb and Davis together.
"You mash [Davis] up with a guy like Cole, who played last year, was thrust into the lineup and got some valuable experience and showed some real speed and linebacking ability."
More than anything, Holcomb wants to be on the field with his new coaches and teammates. The virtual meetings are certainly beneficial, but it isn't the same as being able to physically walk through concepts and plays. Working on the field and reacting to what he sees are better than sitting in front of a computer, he said, where he can only think about what he would do in game situations.
Fortunately, his new coaching staff has been tremendously helpful.
"The thing I love about these coaches is the attention to detail," Holcomb said. "They go through tremendous lengths of being able to explain it and make it understandable for everybody. We can eliminate those grey areas through that."
That will come in handy once training camp begins. With the COVID-19 pandemic making this offseason unlike any in recent memory, Holcomb believes the intensity in August will be taken to another level.
"It's going to be, 'Hey who can pick it up the fastest, and let's go,'" he said. "It's time to get going, it's time to really hit it. There's going to be no learning curve for anybody. You need to go, and it's on."