ASHBURN, Va. — When Ron Rivera met with new boss Josh Harris after the Washington Commanders sale became official, the message was simple.

It wasn’t quite as clear and direct as “Just win, baby.” But there’s no doubt new ownership expects Rivera and the Commanders to win more than they have in recent years.

Rivera goes into his fourth training camp as Washington’s coach and director of football operations and first since Harris’ group that includes Magic Johnson bought the Commanders from longtime owner Dan Snyder, firmly under the microscope — and he knows it.

“I’ve got a lot to prove because I really do think we’ve put ourselves in a really good position,” Rivera said Tuesday at his annual camp-opening news conference. “We’re a good, young football team with some key veterans at key positions, and now is the opportunity to go. And, yeah, I do feel that I do want to prove some stuff.”

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Rivera understands he needs to prove himself all over again, just as he did in a similar position with the Carolina Panthers in 2018 when David Tepper took over as owner. He already had seven years on the job and a Super Bowl appearance under his belt by that point in Carolina and made it through less than two more seasons before being fired.

It’s a much smaller sample this time. Washington has made the playoffs once in three seasons with Rivera in charge, going 22-27-1 in the regular season.

Those circumstances also make this a must-win year for Rivera, or change is to be expected.

“We’ve been too close the last couple of years,” he said. “We get into a really good run. It’s time now to sustain it and just proving that these are the guys, these are the coaches, that I’m the right guy to help this organization continue to go forward.”

Harris at the new ownership group’s introductory news conference Friday after the $6.05 billion sale was approved said he’s excited to learn more about Rivera and the organization. The co-owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils grew up a fan of Washington’s football team, too, so he was paying attention already.

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“We’ve witnessed as fans right from the outside what Coach Rivera and his staff and the front office have and the team has done over the last few years, and it’s improving,” Harris said. “This is a big season, and we look forward to learning and watching and seeing what happens.”

Rivera said Harris was planning to attend the first practice of camp Wednesday, with the two scheduled to meet afterward to delve into more than the basics and philosophies they discussed in their initial conversation. Beyond the obvious of new starting quarterback Sam Howell, key players in need of extensions and other things, Rivera already understands the winning mandate Harris, Johnson and other partners in the ownership group have for the team.

“What I really appreciated is really how forward he was about it — about winning, about developing, about growing, about culture,” Rivera said.

One thing that might help? In recent years, Rivera has had to serve as the face of the franchise amid many scandals surrounding Snyder and felt like more of a manager.

Now, the former linebacker will be able to spend more time doing hands-on coaching.

“I’ll be around a little bit more,” Rivera said.

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