Ron Rivera told players Saturday that Jack Del Rio could serve as head coach for the Washington Football Team at some point this season if he has to step away for any period of time after being diagnosed with cancer.
Per ESPN's John Keim, Rivera explained to his squad that he made a point of hiring Del Rio, in part, because of his previous experience as a head coach.
"I have a great saying that I really do appreciate. It's called 'don't draw me a map unless you've been there,'" he said. "Jack has been there and has been very helpful. ... It shows you the importance of having that kind of guy around. Now in the circumstances we have, his value for us is even more so."
In a statement released Thursday, Washington announced Rivera had recently been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in a lymph node.
"The cancer is in an early stage, and is considered very treatable and curable, providing a good prognosis for Coach Rivera for a full recovery," the statement said.
Keim noted Rivera didn't specify if he would require surgery, but he is going "to continue to be the person I am and be disciplined about it."
Del Rio was hired as Washington's defensive coordinator in January, marking his first coaching job since being fired as head coach of the Oakland Raiders after the 2017 season.
Washington gave Rivera a five-year contract in December to become its head coach. The 58-year-old is tasked with turning around the organization after going 76-63-1 in nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
Del Rio has a total of 12 years experience as a head coach between the Raiders (2015-17) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2003-11). He owns a 93-94 career record and guided his teams to the postseason three times, most recently in 2016.