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Rivera's remarks: Newton to start at Cincinnati

Posted Aug 21, 2011

Comments from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera.

On who will start at quarterback at the Cincinnati Bengals: We're going to start Cam (Newton) this Thursday against Cincinnati. What it will do is give us an opportunity to see how he'll handle the whole game experience, and we'll go from there. But he will start on Thursday as we go through this mock game week.

On if that makes Cam Newton the starter for Week 1 of the regular season: No, that makes him the starter for this Thursday. We're still in the evaluation process to be quite honest. After having gone through the game, where we did some good things but not enough, the big that that we have to do is continue to evaluate the situation and circumstances. We've only really gone through about three-and-a-half, four weeks of training camp, so to rush into a decision I think would be kind of absurd. What we want to do is see how he handles this whole game week preparation.

On if Newton will play three quarters against the Bengals: Yes. We're going to play three quarters, probably, with Cam, depending on things go, obviously. We're going to use a game plan. (Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) Chud will script it as if it was a regular week and utilize the things that we're going to use for this game. We're not looking toward Arizona; we're looking toward Cincinnati as an opponent. So we're not doing anything for future reference; we're doing everything for now.

On what he wants to see out of Newton in the third preseason game: The thing he has got to continue to do is he has got to make good decisions. We had an opportunity to break the tape down and really saw some good things. It didn't show, obviously, but the biggest thing was he was making good decisions. Any time you see the guy make the decisions that you're supposed to make, the next part of it is delivering the ball on time, the next part of it is hitting the receiver in stride. His big thing that has to improve is his mechanics, and that is one thing that has actually been surprisingly good. I think that's the one thing he's getting better at. If you put the tape on and watch his mechanics from the game to what it was our first day of camp, you would go, "Wow." That was one of the nice things talking to (quarterbacks coach) Mike Shula about him was that mechanically he has gotten better. There is a lot of promise. What we need to see though is consistency, also.

On if the defensive starters also will play three quarters: It will be the same thing on the defense. We're game planning how we would play this team. So that's what defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will do on the defensive side of the ball.

On being in a game week mode at home instead of preparing from training camp: Tomorrow will be a much better indicator. Today was to finalize the Miami stuff, to go through the tape with the guys in the morning, and then in the afternoon, this practice, was to go through the mistakes that we made - mentally correct and physically correct those things. Starting tomorrow, we'll start focusing on Cincinnati and the way a regular game week preparation will be. So I'm looking forward to that experience as far as this team is concerned, to see how we handle that and see if it is a distraction.

On getting defensive end Greg Hardy back: It was good to see him on the field. I didn't recognize him. I was so used to seeing him in street clothes. To see him in pads was outstanding. He had a good day; he intermingled with the groups. So he got an opportunity to get out there with the first bunch and take a couple of snaps. He did some real nice things on the sideline when he was doing the individual drills, so we were excited to have him back on the football field.

On if Hardy is a starter or pass-rush specialist: Yes, he's an every down defensive end for us. He'll work himself back into shape, and when he's ready to go he'll be one of our starting defensive ends.

On if Hardy will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season: We hope so. We're going to work him like that. The nice thing is the last couple of weeks what he has been doing other than rehabbing is he has been doing his conditioning. So today did not look like it affected him that much. We'll see how he is tomorrow and how sore he is, because this is the first time he did any football work. So it will be important to gauge that.

On if he has some flexibility with defensive end Eric Norwood if Hardy starts: Very much so. What it does for us is it gives us two guys, Eric and Everette (Brown), that are versatile guys, a little bit more outside edge players, and it doesn't put the pressure on them to have to be every down guys. They can come in and be part of a rotation and give you everything they've got for five or six snaps. Then you can rotate them. That's what we're going to do with our defensive lineā€¦.rotate and keep those guys as fresh as possible.

On if guard Mackenzy Bernadeau has taken advantage of his opportunity with the first team: Yes he has. Mackenzy Bernadeau has done an outstanding job. He's taken advantage of the opportunity. He's taken his snaps. He's doing a good job preparing himself for each preseason game, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he'll do in an extended role this week.

On wide receiver Wallace Wright, who is coming off a season-ending injury last year: He's coming off a situation. Hopefully, he can get himself going and get into the flow of things. It's hard any time you lose time, because there are other guys that are stepping up and getting reps. We've just got to go forward and see what happens when he gets the opportunity on the field.

On fullback Tony Fiammetta, who has a concussion: Tony is still a little woozy, so we'll see how it goes when he gets his opportunity to visit with the doctor (neurologist). He's gotten better each day.

On how concerning is it that linebacker Jon Beason has not yet practiced: A little bit. But I will say, getting Thomas Davis back on the field with (James) Anderson, and the way Dan Connor has played, the way (Omar) Gaither has played, the way Thomas Williams has played is very encouraging. Because it gives us three guys that can play the middle linebacker position if Jon is not ready to go.

On running back Mike Goodson's Achilles injury: It's a strain, so we'll just wait for him to get better.

On tackle Jeff Otah: Jeff continues to work with the rehab program. His leg is getting stronger. The big thing is when the leg is stronger and we're real confident about that. That's the biggest thing that we're looking for. Once that happens I think we're going to be good with that.