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TRANSCRIPT: Ron Rivera on Shaq Thompson, Other Injuries


Wednesday’s post-practice comments from Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera

How’d players respond after the day off?

“I though they responded well. The unfortunate thing is that we have so many long practices so later on they start to lose their focus again. That’s the hard part of trying to get everybody in. I thought there were really good things at the beginning of practice, I though the tempo was much better at the start, later in it was a little disappointing by my standards. I think the guys responded, I like what the young guys did at the very end with the last three plays. Letting them go live and really stretch their legs a little.”

Why was Shaq Thompson sitting out today?

“It was his hamstrings. The one that he had in mini-camp was a little tight the last couple days, so Ryan Vermillion thought it’d be better to be careful and be smart about it. It’s just a little tightening of the hamstring.”

Why was Frank Alexander not in there at the end?

“That’s a surprise. I’m not sure what happened at the end; maybe it was just a part of the rotation.”

Giving Alexander a second chance?

“He’s a solid young man. Guys make mistakes, they don’t make malicious mistakes, he made a mistake, an honest mistake in trying to figure some things out. Frank made the commitment to try to do things square, to make things right, and that’s what he did. He went out and did the things you’re supposed to do to prove you deserve a second opportunity. We’re not going to throw guys to the side who are solid young men that really show us that they’re committed to make things right. Frank is trying to make things right. Why not give him an opportunity.”

Frank earning trust back?

“He’s done that, he really has. I check with Frank everyday, we have something to say to each other everyday, and I’m really proud of that. He’s done the things he’s supposed to do. He’s doing the things he should do, and he’s staying on the straight and narrow, and he’s got it in him. He knows what he has to do. This is the opportunity. He has a family to take care of and I think that’s part of growing up and understanding responsibility. Frank is trying to live that and he’s doing the things he’s supposed to. I’m proud of the fact he’s making that commitment.”

What’s the timeline for Star’s return?

“We’ll get an opportunity to take a look at him once we get back up to Charlotte and we’ll go from there. My understanding is that it’s going to be a couple weeks. Like we said on the x-ray, there was a hot spot there, and a little bit of concern. The doctors felt that the best thing to do was start resting and not give it an opportunity to become anything worse than a sore spot, so we’re going to be smart and be careful.”

Is the plan to sit him for the pre-season?

“No, the opportunity to get him back on the football field is what we’re looking for and we’re not going to do it hastily. We know he’s very valuable and important to what we do on the defensive side. As is for most of our guys, all of our guys have a role on this team, and we want to make sure guys are in the best position to come out and show us what they can do to help.”

Are you happy with your overall depth?

“It’s exciting to have the kind of depth we have. There are a few positions to be concerned with, and I mentioned it, defensive end is one of the things but again if they’re going to do it by committee like they did last year. People talked about a drop-off in sacks, well the truth of the matter is the drop-off in sacks came from the secondary. We had a couple guys the year before that produced big numbers for a nickel back, like Captain Munnerlyn did a great job. I think when you lose a guy who is going to contribute six sacks, you’ve got to find somebody to replace him, and that’s on us. We’ve got to find answers to make sure we can do those things. If it’s on committee by the defensive line, I’m fine with that.”

Kawann Short’s status?

“It’s a matter of time, he’ll be back out here. He worked today with the trainer’s on the sidelines so now it’s just a couple of days, and hopefully we’ll get him back soon.”

What was the explanation you got for Chris Houston’s retirement?

“Chris felt it was time to retire. He had that toe surgery a year ago, and it just didn’t feel right to him. He and I sat down, and we talked about it. He said ‘Coach, the toe thing doesn’t allow me to perform at my best’. It was kind of tough because he had a good minicamp. He really did. He had a couple of good days. You guys saw him make good plays for us. That foot is just giving him too many problems, and he said he didn’t want to expose himself to being hurt.”

That’s not two in two weeks. Are you concerned about guys walking away early?

“Most certainly. It’s kind of happening throughout the league. Guys are looking at themselves and saying maybe health is better here. The thing with Jonathan Martin is you don’t want to mess with your back, and then with Chris is that he’s been battling for over a year and thought enough was enough.”

What is it you like about Kurt Coleman and Roman Harper both out there at safety?

“I think it’s a great mix, no matter who is out there. Roman is the veteran guy who has seen a lot and can really help control things. He helps calm those young guys down. Kurt is a very cerebral guy. He’s a very smart and physical player. I like the combination there. I like Tre Boston because he’s a very physical, active guy. He’s got some quickness and ability to make plays sideline to sideline which we saw last year. Especially against Atlanta. Again, it’s a good group of guys. I feel really good about this secondary, and one of the things those guys want to put to rest is that we do things defensively in spite of them. They want to be part of it, and they’re trying to show that and prove that to everybody.”

Will some guys make the roster solely on special teams?

“Yes, there are. We talked about it, and talk is cheap, but we’ve talked about making the commitment. Dave [Gettleman] and his guys went out and found some guys that were available that were special teams guys and those are guys we need. We want them to understand that it’s not just enough to be that and you’ve got to be part of what we do offensively and defensively. There are a few guys that their primary reason to be here is special teams.”

Are you doing things differently with special teams?

“Yes, we’ve made emphasis and put it at the front of meetings and schedules. They have their own day on certain days like in the morning; today was a morning where they came and had meetings and had the installation. The coaching with Bruce back and Russ is staying to help us throughout the year, then with Richard’s knowledge and Curtis’ knowledge, Cameron Turner. We got a good young group of guys that are involved, and you guys have noticed it, that everyone is staying involved.”

T.J. Heath seemed to have a good debut?

“When we worked him out yesterday, and part of working him out was having the opportunity to know that he was in other camps, and he’s been with other teams. Most notably he was with Miami for a period, so it’s not like we’re bringing in a true rookie or somebody off the streets that hasn’t been in camps or on a roster. We wanted someone who’d been with a team for a part of a season and he has. We know that somebody obviously liked him to keep him around.”

How are Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin developing?

“Kelvin continues to show that he is a top quality young wide receiver. He came back to camp in great shape, which was great to see. He’s performed like that and done some really nice things. Funchess, you keep seeing him improve every day. He’s made a couple nice grabs. He made one early on the sideline. You know, he has a long way to go, and we were saying that last year about Kelvin, so we feel pretty good about the guy that we have in Funchess.”

We’re you disappointed by the offense’s performance in the red zone today?

“Defensively they did some really good things, they really did. The one thing that’s different is on the defensive side we’re far ahead, we really are. Sean McDermott picked up right where they left off in mini-camps and offensively, we’re pretty basic. We didn’t game plan anything, so we tried to make things happen out there. There were some good things we saw, mostly from the defensive side.”

What’s Ed Dickson’s staus?

“Ed’s still recovering from that groin. He missed the other day. He was in pads today and did some basic work. He actually tried to jump in a couple times and coach had to pull him out because he’s just not where we need him to be yet, so we want to be careful with that.”

What did you make of the scrap between Frank Alexander and Ricky Henry?

“A little too much as far as I’m concerned. I like the fact that they both stood up to each other. You’ve got to be careful. Especially swinging at somebody with a helmet on, you’re going to end up breaking your hand. We really don’t want to see it, but guys are going stand up for themselves, and that’s important.”

Carrington Byndom got some look with first team as a nickel today?

“Carrington and Colin Jones both got some nickel work. What happened today is that Carrington is someone we’ve been looking at and watching, and he got a chance to be active last year and did a couple of nice things. So he’s going to get a lot of opportunities to show what he can do, especially in the preseason games.”

When do you expect Bené Benwikere back?

“Hopefully next week. We’ll get an opportunity for him to start and get ready, I don’t know if he’ll play in the first game but what I’m hoping is to get everybody back for the Miami week. It’ll be a good week for us. We get to practice with them a couple times, and then get to play with them. It’ll be a good bit of work and I’m hoping we get everybody back on the field for that. It’s a good opportunity to really work on what we’re trying to do heading into the regular season.”

Could Star be back for Miami week?

“We’ll have to evaluate and see what it is. If he’s available, I’d most certainly would like for him to practice. He’ll be re-evaluated Friday, and I think Dr. Anderson is here again today and will probably look at him again, as well and see where he is. Friday is when they plan to look at him again.”

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