Ron Rivera begins his cancer treatment Tuesday, and in the event he cannot perform his duties, he has an experienced assistant on his staff who will fill in for him.
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will take over for any part of practice Rivera misses while receiving treatment for squamous cell carcinoma, per Julie Donaldson, Washington's senior VP of media and content.
Rivera was diagnosed with cancer in August following an offseason in which he recently said he felt his healthiest "in a long, long time." It was a development that left him "a little bit angry," but not despondent, Rivera explained to NFL Network's Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter on their new Huddle & Flow Podcast.
"I'm actually feeling really good, guys," Rivera told Wyche and Trotter. "You know, my cancer diagnosis, really, it was kind of out of left field a little bit just because I've been feeling so healthy. I mean, I really have you know, I had a good off season, had a good summer. You know, we went out to one of our favorite places out to Lake Tahoe and had an offer to spend time with the family and stuff it and then get back and, you know, and then kind of, you know, I discovered a lump.
"I've come to grips with it. But more importantly, you know, I've got a good A team doctors, a good team of specialists, you know, a good prognosis. And with everybody behind me, I just feel real comfortable, real confident. And, you know, like I've told people to with God's grace, we've got this.
"It's amazing how many people have had this form of cancer. They have gone through these treatments and that have all, you know, come through on the other side and survived. And because this is a higher, highly treatable, highly curable cancer. But, you know, there is something comforting, knowing that others have gone through this and ended up on the right side of it. So I feel like I said the prognosis is very positive."
Rivera told Wyche and Trotter the location of his cancer is near the lymph nodes but is not lymphoma, and because of its location, it thankfully should not threaten his use of his voice in the future. Because it was discovered early and is a highly treatable form of cancer, Rivera has already moved past the necessary procedures -- the last of which Rivera said "knocked me down a little bit" -- and is now in the treatment phase.
Rivera is taking on the challenge of turning around a franchise that hasn't enjoyed much success in the last two decades. Since 2000, Washington has posted just four seasons above .500, the last of which coming in 2015. Going through cancer treatments during his first season won't make such a task any easier, but Rivera is ready for the fight ahead.
Del Rio brings with him 12 seasons of head coaching experience and a career record of 93-94 earned while patrolling the sidelines of the Jaguars and Raiders.