CHARLOTTE – Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has vivid memories of the last time Carolina played the San Diego Chargers, though his perspective on that one is a little different than his view will be this Sunday.
The Panthers won the 2008 season opener at San Diego in dramatic fashion, jumpstarting a 12-4 season with a 26-24 victory on tight end Dante Rosario's 14-yard touchdown reception on the game's final play.
At the time, Rivera was San Diego's defensive coordinator.
"They could have called holding, very easily," Rivera said. "It was a heck of a game.
"It's no different than a couple of our losses this year. It just rips your gut out. To feel like you played well enough to win and then have something like that happen at the end is tough."
Rosario now plays for the Chargers, and Sunday's game originally was to be a homecoming of sorts for him. It was San Diego's turn to come to Carolina based on the NFL scheduling formula, but a change in 2010 to curb travel moved this year's Chargers game to San Diego and brought this year's Denver Broncos game to Charlotte.
As a result, San Diego is scheduled to next play in Charlotte in 2016 after last playing here in 2004. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who starred just up the road at North Carolina State, has never taken a snap as a pro at Bank of America Stadium.
"At free safety you're more able to make plays on the ball, play the ball in the air," Godfrey said. "I played there some a couple of years ago and came into my own, but then I had to move to strong safety and play more in the box, more tackling.
"I got away from being around the ball as much, but Coach Rivera talked to me about how we need some plays in the back end. Now when the ball is in the air, I'll be able to go and get it."
Godfrey fully participated in practice Thursday for the first time since suffering a back injury in Week 13 at Kansas City. Rookie
INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker
"The back is more of a factor than the eye now," said Anderson, whose eye is no longer bothering him other than still being inflamed. "I was making a tackle and got hit. If that was one finger, it was a strong finger.
"We're just taking it day-by-day, just listening to the trainers and coaches."
STRIKE THE POSE: Texas A&M freshman Johnny Manziel became the 11th quarterback in the last 13 years – and the third as many years – to win the Heisman Trophy last weekend.
"I'm very happy for Johnny Manziel," Newton said. "The impact he's had this year, the guy is unbelievable."
The run of 11 quarterbacks in 13 years began with former Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke in 2000.