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Notes: Run game rolling; Rivera reminisces

Posted Nov 18, 2015

Panthers set sights on 21st consecutive game with 100-plus rushing yards; head coach Ron Rivera recalls the notable victim of his final career sack.

1. QUITE A RUN FOR THE PANTHERS: Statistical streaks aren't often associated with offensive linemen, so when something like this comes along, they take note.

"Of course we know that streak," center Ryan Kalil said. "We take a lot of pride in that, especially as offensive linemen."

"That" is Carolina's streak of 20 consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards. Seattle is on the same streak, making the Panthers and Seahawks the first teams with a 20-game streak since the Chicago Bears in 1989-90. The Houston Oilers in 1977-78 were the last team to top 20 games, reaching the century mark 23 consecutive times.

"That's a big part of our formula," Kalil said. "That's a big deal for us, and we work on it each and every week.

"We have some really good running backs, including our quarterback, who is a part of that - he's a big running back when he tucks it and runs."

Quarterback Cam Newton, in fact, started the streak on the strength of his second career 100-yard rushing game at Cincinnati in Week 6 of 2014 – a game that Jonathan Stewart missed with an ankle injury. Newton has 863 yards over the course of the streak, while Stewart – who hasn't missed a game since - has led the way with 1,383 yards.

"He's playing very well," head coach Ron Rivera said of Stewart. "He's running hard, doing a lot of good things."

Washington, which will visit Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, ranks 30th in the NFL in run defense, allowing 135.3 yards per game.

2. QUITE A MEMORY FOR RIVERA: Hours after the Panthers complete their first Thanksgiving game next week in Dallas, the Packers will retire legendary quarterback Brett Favre's number in Green Bay.

The mention of that triggered a memory for Rivera, whose last sack as an NFL player came at the expense of Favre in his first season with the Packers. On Oct. 25, 1992, at Lambeau Field, Rivera brought down Favre early in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bears' 30-10 victory.

"I once told him, ‘You're the last sack I ever got in the league.' He looked at me and said, ‘Geez, I was slow back then, too?'" Rivera said. "He was a lot of fun to play against, a lot of fun to coach against and a lot of fun to watch."

Incidentally, the last two of Rivera's nine career interceptions came during the 1990 season, and both have ties to former Panthers quarterbacks (even though the Panthers didn't play their first game until 1995).

Rivera's first interception that season came at the expense of Tampa Bay quarterback Vinny Testaverde, who ended his career with the Panthers in 2007. Testaverde's leading receiver in that game was Mark Carrier, who in 1996 scored the first regular season touchdown at what is now Bank of America Stadium. Carrier, a member of the Panthers' first four teams, is now Carolina's player engagement director.

Rivera's final interception came in a game a month later against Detroit started by Rodney Peete (2002-04 with Panthers), though the interception came against reserve Bob Gagliano.

3. DELAIRE READY FOR ANOTHER FORMER TEAM: Four days after defensive end Ryan Delaire was signed off Washington's practice squad, he recorded two sacks against Tampa Bay – the team with which he spent training camp.

Now Delaire gets a shot at his other former team.

"I just feel like I have something to prove," Delaire said. "I'll play hard, as always."

Delaire, a rookie from Towson, said that even though he's been quiet statistically since his explosive debut, he's been getting better.

"I've been learning a whole lot," he said. "Teams may have seen some of my tendencies, so I'm learning from the coaches how to switch things up and bring something different to the table."

4. LINEMEN CONTINUE TO HEAL: Rivera is hopeful that left guard Andrew Norwell, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, can take another step in practice Thursday. It's a step that defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who has missed the last four games with an ankle injury, has already taken.

"Dwan has been doing individual stuff and actually got some reps today with the group," Rivera said. "It would be nice to have Dwan back. We've been going into games for the most part with just three DTs.

"Andrew is progressing pretty well. … We'll see how he is in the morning and see if starts to do some individual stuff."

While Edwards was limited in practice Wednesday, Norwell didn't practice but could Thursday.

"I'm getting better," said Norwell, who did some work on the side Wednesday.
"It's one of those things where you've just got to follow what the trainers say, but it felt really good out there."