Wednesday’s post-practice comments from Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
Thoughts on receiver Avius Capers?
“It’s interesting because when he came for a tryout, he rode his bike. He’s a local guy, so he rode his bike to the stadium and has just continued to flash and get your attention. As has Mike Brown, and the whole lot. It’s a good group of young receivers. The hard part is that there are three guys that are very similar in what they do, but Capers has done a nice job and got our attention. He’ll get an opportunity on special teams. Some guys you watch and wonder how he never got a shot at a bigger school, but it’s probably one of those things where he grew into it and became a big fish at a small school. I’m happy to see him take advantage of his opportunities.”
What’s the plan for Cam in Buffalo?
“We’ll take him into the first quarter, and we’ll evaluate it and go from there. Pretty much, he’s going to play in the first quarter. He’ll play predominantly when No. 1’s are in. We’ll attach him with a couple of the other guys, so when he goes out, they’ll go out. It’s the first preseason game. It’s really about making sure our second and third bunches are prepared and ready to go. That’s why today was really focusing on the installation in terms of preparation for Buffalo.”
Who are guys that you’re able to say won’t play like Charles Johnson and Amini Silatolu?
“You’re in the right boat.”
What about Kawann Short?
“We’re going to discuss that. Ryan [Vermillion] gave me a preliminary list, and I’m going through the list and working on it. I sat down with the coaches, and we’ve gone through out lists of where we project guys in terms of number of reps. That will be solidified later this afternoon when Ryan gives me the rest of the report. As far as who’s going to travel, who isn’t going to travel. How much we can carry some guys, and we have to be smart with guys like Bene [Benwikere]. We’ll get an opportunity to discuss that a little later today.”
What are you looking for against Buffalo?”
Consistency, more than anything else. Going out there and consistently moving the ball, consistently being good on defense. I’d love to be able to see a couple of drives go seven or eight plays then turn around and get a three-and-out on defense. I don’t know how feasible it is in your first preseason game, but we’re really looking for consistency, guys making plays, guys taking advantage of opportunities. As far as the ones are concerned, consistency is probably a big word. The second and thirds are guys we’re going to put in a position to make plays.”
Position battle focused on most?”
Wide receiver, most certainly. We have five or six or seven guys who are really at it right now and are battling it. We really haven’t projected anybody in terms of clear-cut top five or six. We have a group of guys that are just showing every day. They flash constantly, and I know you guys have written a lot about them, which is good for those guys to get the attention. We’re trying to pay attention to them. A lot of guys will get opportunities, especially at the wide receiver position. Defensive end, especially with Charles Johnson not playing, it’s going to be a shot for a lot of guys, a lot of opportunities. Who knows, maybe one of those youngs guys or free agents this year will flash a little bit.”
Do you guys know how many receivers you might keep?”
Yeah, there’s a possibility we keep seven. The truth of the matter is that we are really deep. This is the deepest I’ve seen that group in a long time, and it’s quality depth. I think your first four or five guys are true quality guys and as you look at six, seven, eight guys. These are young guys that flash. They show that they deserve an opportunity, we’re trying to really pay attention to these guys. They’re a good group, and I’m excited about them competing.”
Did Stephen Hill have his surgery?
“Yes, he did. Everything went well as far as we understand. He’s home, recovering. They’ll see him on Saturday after we get. I think his surgery was on the night of Fan Fest, might have been that Friday. I was told that he had his surgery, and they said that it went very, very well, and they planned to see him a week later.”
How big of a test will it be for your tackles going against Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams?
“I think it’s going to be great for them. These are quality defensive ends. Rex [Ryan] has a solid defensive group. I like their front and their linebackers. Those guys run well. They got some physical corners and safeties that will come downhill and hit you, so I think it’s a good group, It’s going to be a very good test for our entire offense. A good test for our wide receivers as well. One of the things that the young guys have to learn is to play physical and catch the ball in traffic. It’s going to be great to watch Funchess when he gets a test, and he’s in traffic and going against NFL corners.”
How do you feel about not knowing what they’ll do along defensive front?
“I hate it. I really do. They can do anything and when that happens, you’re kind of guessing as coaches. It’s hard to see the game. Unless you hit it right on, anything could happen. Guys could be running around free. Your quarterback may not get time, your running backs might not get opportunities to run. It’ll be tough, especially on the offensive line, trying to handle it. I think Rex is going to be aggressive like always. On the offensive side, their offense, we feel a little more comfortable. We know what they’re capable of on the offensive side. We’re expecting a physical running style because coach Roman coming from San Francisco is going to carry that over.”
Can you take momentum from preseason into regular season?
“It’s 50-50, some people feel they do, some people don’t. I was on a Super Bowl team that won one game in the preseason. We were 1-3 and then won 15 games in the regular season. I’m not quite sure if that’s true or not.”
Preparing rookies heading into first NFL game?
“The biggest thing is talking about being ready to take advantage of the opportunity. One of the things we talk about is that they control how prepared they are. They control their preparation. We tell them, ‘Hey guys, this is an opportunity to get ready to get ready to go. Make sure you’re looking at film on the other team and getting yourself prepared to play.’ That’s probably one of the biggest things. The other thing is that it’s what you’ve done all your life since 8-9-10-11 years old, so this is just another game in terms of a game, so you’ve done this before. Don’t act like it’s something you haven’t done. The biggest thing is to be ready for the speed. That is one thing I do tell them, to be ready for the speed. There’s so much more, and the intensity level goes up a little bit more for whatever reason.”
What have you seen out of Kyle Love?
“I’ve seen a lot out of Kyle. Kyle’s done a good job. I’ve seen a lot out of Dwan Edwards. Dwan for the veteran of all those guys is solid. Colin Cole has had a good time. It’s given us a chance to really look at Micanor Regis, it’s given us an opportunity to look at Terry Redden. There are some young guys really flashing for us. It’s been a great test. Anytime you have top line guys out, the next guys get a great shot. I’m excited about that because I’m expecting to take most of that defensive line into the second quarter, probably with the exception of Dwan, Colin, and Kyle. I expect use to take them into the second half.”
What do you expect from Buffalo’s offense?
“It’s going to be interesting to watch. Knowing Rex and having been around him and his brother and his father, I think Rex is really trying to establish an identity for their team, so I expect them to play his first bunch well into the beginning of the second quarter. I expect them to be physical and really try to set the tone and tempo. He’s a dynamic personality; he mimics his dad in many ways. I expect them to come out and there right away.”
Did the Geno Smith thing work as a lesson to the team?
“No, no, I honestly didn’t guys. Our players have handled this situation themselves and have taken ownership of what has been going on. When it first happened, Thomas Davis, [Ryan] Kalil, Greg [Olsen], Charles Johnson, Luke [Kuechly] all said, ‘Look coach we got it’ and I stepped out of the way and let them handle it. We’re fortunate; we’re in our fourth year together, all of us, with the exception of Luke, are all guys, who I’ve mentioned that have been here these five years, and they get what I’m trying to establish and what we’re trying to become. They understand the culture, and they handled it. Cam came back and made some really nice comments, and I really appreciate what he said about Josh [Norman] that this is a chance for him to have his best season yet. I do agree, I think Josh could have a big year.”
Cam’s not wearing the flak jacket yet?
“Not yet, but he will. Once we get into camp. The one thing you can always tell when you look at his pads is that you’ll see the underlining that he’s got it all on. He will once we get into the games. In practice, he probably won’t, but he’ll start wearing it soon to get ready for game time.”
What has Luke Kuechly improved on? His pass coverage seems much better.
“The thing he’s beginning to understand is how important it is to be set. One of the most important things that linebackers and guys that play underneath tend to do is that they’re still moving, and they’re not set when the quarterback is ready to deliver the ball. If you’re moving to your left and quarterback is moving to the right, you’ve got no chance to make the play. If you’re where you need to be, get there in a hurry and get your feet set, you can break. He’s got his depth and was set and able to make a play on the ball. He’s really worked that with the whole group, and I’ve seen over the last couple days guys tipping balls at the line. David Mayo had a good one the other day. A lot of it has to do with getting to your position and being set and ready to make a play.”
Do you think he’s the best LB in the league?
“Yes, I really do. I think that right now the two best in the league, young guys, is Luke and [Seattle’s] Bobby Wagner. Those guys are the future of the linebackers in the league. The prototypical middle linebackers and they help to make their team better.”
Joe Webb will have a big role, can he make the team and you keep 3 QBs?
“I do foresee keeping three quarterbacks. Part of the reason is what he’s done in the past and what he’s shown us. He’s been an emergency receiver for us, he’s been a backup quarterback, he’s been a special teams guy for us and this year, we have him doing a lot of special teams drills. He’s been a four core guy. Not just one or two, he’s been in all four. All of those meetings, he’s kind of become our Jensen, who used to play for the Dolphins. As Mike Shula likes to constantly remind me. He’s done a nice job at that. You’ll see him play some special teams, and we’re going to try to limit that a little bit, and see what he shows us. He’ll play some quarterback. He won’t play wide receiver but if we needed to then he could. These very versatile football players are starting to come back and be en vogue again. Part of it has to do with what they’re doing in college. Running backs are playing those wing positions or whatever they call them, and you’re starting to see guys starting to do more than one thing.”
What are your thoughts on Kurt Coleman?
“Kurt’s done a really nice job with us at safety. We have a good competition going there as well, and I think our first three guys are really good football players. Roman Harper, Kurt and Tre Boston they make a good combination, and you have to find ways to put those guys on the field. If you don’t, you’re going to have a good football player standing around.”