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Monday’s post-practice comments from Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
Did practice end a little early today?
“No, the truth of the matter is we knocked 12 minutes off of practice because we had a really good tempo. We really did. We went no huddle in the second session and, we ran 18 plays in 10 minutes. We were moving, the guys were doing a real good job, they had good tempo, hustling to the ball. That’s what you kind of look for. They responded very well after having two days off, I’m very pleased with that.”
It looked like Frank Alexander was dropped down to the third team?
“A whole bunch of guys moved all over the place and worked with different groups. That’s the biggest thing, more than anything else. Initially, Charles Johnson was slated to practice today, and he still felt a little sore, so we pulled him out. We had already set the reps, so we just went with it.”
Was that an opportunity to see guys like Arthur Miley and Rakim Cox?
“Based on what they did, we had to take a look and see how they do against first and second teamers just to see, out of curiosity. A big part of it is that they’re going to get blended reps with one’s, two’s, and three’s.”
Is that a testament to them or indictment of top guys?
“A testament to how they played. All you have to do is look at the fourth quarter and see how they did things. They created an opportunity and they’re going to get an opportunity.”
You said Friday that you were disappointed in upper-tier defensive ends played?
“I said defensive line, I didn’t say defensive ends, I said defensive line, and I was. I expect more from them. Credit to them, they played of guys of equal talent and they had success. We have to find out if these young guys can do it against first and second groups.”
We’ve talked to you about the ends, but were you looking from more push by middle of defense too?
“Yes, I wanted to see more push from tackles as well. There were other things that went on that were disappointing to me, I expect to see a little bit more.”
What stood out on film after Friday?
“Some individuals. There were guys who stood out and played really well. Arthur Miley and Rakim Cox. Terry Redden played very well, as far as those guys are concerned. The young backs both played very, very well. I thought they both had good days. A couple wide receivers did well, there’s some individuals that really stood out. I really liked what we got out of our first unit with pass protection and the other two and three units did a really nice job, but we didn’t run block as well as we needed to. There are some things we need to sure up and get better at.”
Was this a message to Alexander?
“There’s no messages, no messages. It’s two guys who earned an opportunity more than anything else. That’s what we’re gonna do – give guys opportunities. Nobody has been anointed starter or anything like that. We’re going to give Kony [Ealy] his opportunities. We’re gonna give Wes [Horton] his opportunities; we’re going to give these two young guys an opportunity to show what they can do.”
What can Cox do?
“Right now he’s showing a real good edge rush ability. He’s done some really nice things. Especially in that fourth quarter, there were five plays that he was in, in-a-row, and he affected four of the five plays. He had two sacks, forced a scramble, and knocked a ball down. He chased the quarterback and got a tackle. He did some nice things and because of that and because of what Arthur Miley did, we wanted to see what those guys could do.”
Do you get concerned about defensive end?
“Nope. We got time. We’re just finishing our second week and going into our third. We have a group of guys that we like and who knows, maybe one of these young guys might be the answer. We’re going to find out and most certainly create opportunities and give guys opportunities who earned it. Very pleased with the group of guys in certain aspects of the game and displeased in others. It was only our first preseason game so we’ll see how it goes, and hopefully we’ll see improvement as it goes along.”
What is just soreness with Charles Johnson?
“Yes, just soreness. He was out there and started doing stuff and said he started to feel sore, so we said okay and shut him down. He went inside, and they put him through his paces inside on some of the machines in there.”
Did Shaq Thompson play more first-team reps today?
“There were some things that we did with Shaq today, he worked with one’s and two’s, trying to find how he fits. There’s a blend of things we want to do with him, and it’s going to call for different situations and circumstances.”
What are you looking to see from Shaq?
“The big thing on Saturday is seeing where he fits. There’s some things we’re going to do, and normally we wouldn’t show these things, but we’re going to have to because we have to see what they look like. You guys will get an opportunity to see some of the things we plan to do with him and you guys will see him running around with different groups of linebackers and different defensive personnel. We have to find out where he fits and how to best utilize him.”
Is this a significant week for him?
“It’ll be a very big week, not just for him, but for us as a defensive unit. We want to see how we utilize his abilities and his talents.”
You say rookies need 5,000 snaps, how is Shaq coming in that process?
“He’s way under. What you hope for is the progression. As he goes through it, each phase of the year is going to be a number, and it’s going to be a hallmark for him. He’s probably somewhere around 350 or 400, and you want more because it’s important. For something to become second nature and be simple and easy, you need at least 5,000 reps and he’s got a long way to go. The more we can drill with him, the more walk-through stuff we can do with him, the more practice time he gets, the quicker he’s going to learn. We need to really put him in that position and force feed him. It’s 5,000 reps.”
How impressed were you by Brandon Wegher on special teams?
“Very impressed. He did some nice things. He’s a young man that caught our attention and we’ll see how he goes. He’ll get a few more opportunities and give us a chance to show us what he can do.”
Do you have an updated timeline for Star Lotulelei?
“They’re going to evaluate it as each week goes by and each week they’ll up whatever he needs to do.”
Kelvin Benjamin was limited today?
“We limited him on purpose. He’s still a little sore, he took a pretty big shot the other night and we want to bring him back a little bit, and [Ryan Vermillion] thought it’d be a good idea since we weren’t overexerting anybody.
Is it a bruised lower back for Kelvin?
“I assume so. I don’t think there’s really a medical report so I couldn’t tell you that.”
You made a transaction today?
“We brought Matt Wile back, and we had to bring him back and create an opportunity for him. He’s a young man that came and did some really nice things and someone we really want to watch.”
What happened with tight end Jamie Childers?
“We settled with Jamie. He had a fracture. It ended up being an arm fracture. It happened during the game. He actually played with it and said he was sore, then after the game the X-ray found he actually fractured it, and it’s going to be awhile, so it was an opportunity to find a roster space.”
How important are practices with Dolphins?
“They’re going to be very important for us because they’re a good football team. They really are. I think they did some real good things at the end of last year, and they did good things in free agency and the draft. It’s going to be really competitive. I got a chance to watch their tape the other day and I though [Ryan Tannehill] did some really good things with some really nice protection. They have some skilled guys to challenge us, especially on the defense side. I’m excited about that. I like their front seven, I think it’s really stout, and they’re athletic in their secondary, so it’ll be a good opportunity to compete and work the different periods of football. We’ll get to evaluate us as a football team.”
You and Joe Philbin have talked about avoiding fights?
“We’re gonna have referees here. I believe we’ll have eight, so it’ll be four for each field, and we’ve talked and the idea is that they’ll manage the whistles and if anything is going to start then we’ll nip it in the bud and if we have to take guys off the field then we’ll do that. The idea is to work. It’s not to come here and have a big scrum. We want to practice and get quality practice. Coach Philbin and I talked about it, and we both feel the same way. This is a great opportunity for our football teams to grow. We don’t play in the regular season so it’ll be a good opportunity to utilize our offensive and defensive strategies and really test the other team and help the other team. That’s what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping for that type of experience for our young football to get a good look at another good football team.”
How does last week’s fight set up a point of emphasis for this week?