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Rivera's remarks: Otah back on line

Posted Aug 27, 2011

Comments from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera.

On who will start at quarterback in the final preseason game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers: We're going to go with Cam (Newton). Jimmy (Clausen) missed reps today because of a knee and thigh (injury) from the (Cincinnati) game. W had Derek (Anderson) running with the second group today and we'll see how Jimmy is tomorrow.

On if Cam Newton will start the regular season opener at quarterback: We'll get to that eventually.

On what else he is looking for from Cam Newton before he names a starting quarterback for the regular season: The big thing, obviously, is to see how he continues to handle everything. We have to really study him and watch him. We've got to make sure he's progressing in the right direction. This is a very sincere thing for us. We don't want to just say, "You're the guy," and walk away from it and go from there. At the same time, we want him to understand that he is working toward being our guy.

On quarterback Jimmy Clausen's injury: It was a combination of both (knee and thigh) - where he got hit and how he reacted to it. We want to make sure, so he took today off with treatment and some rehab. Then we'll see how he is tomorrow.

On being upset with the offensive line after Clausen got hurt: When it happens, especially in a situation or circumstances like that, you know they're coming after you. You've got to play better. I was a little disappointed that we didn't protect him better. And those are things that bother me. We are better than that. There are some things to me that aren't acceptable, and I just felt I had to handle it that way.

On tackle Jeff Otah returning to practice: Jeff practiced today; he looked good. He took several reps with the ones. In fact, he did a little bit more than we expected him to. He's had a good few weeks of rehab, strengthening up that leg. He looked solid; I'm very happy about that. We had (defensive end) Greg Hardy back in there with the ones. He looked good and he took a few more reps than we had anticipated. So I'm really pleased with that. It's good to see those guys back on the field. We've got to get those guys ready to play come September 11.

On if Otah will play against the Pittsburgh Steelers: He's looking like it. He had a good practice today. He took several snaps with the first group in several of the periods and he looked good. He looks like he's progressing very well. We took a step back with him with the injury and the concern about the injury to make sure it wasn't anything that was more. We treated it and went into a rehab mode, gave him an opportunity to rehab it and then strengthen it, and then work his conditioning and strengthening at the same time and doing field work. Now we got him into the final phase, and that's back on the practice field. We set a plan up for him, and he's followed it, he's been tremendous. Today, he took a few more reps than we had expected him to. He felt good, he wanted to keep going, he wanted to push himself, so he did a nice job with that. I'm very proud of that.

On his biggest concerns about the offensive line: The group playing together. When you look at it and you look at some of the pressures that we're giving up, some of the hits on the quarterback came down to a communication thing between the line. We've been mixing and matching the last couple of games and we haven't had that same group out there. That's going to be the hard part. What's going to hopefully be the starting group come September 11 may not have played a full preseason game together or takens reps in the preseason games together. So that's going to be hard.

On if long snapper Chris Massey was signed to provide competition for J.J. Jansen: The big thing is to see what we potentially could have with a Chris Massey type guy. Obviously, he's got to come in and snap the ball and see how his operations are with the punt and the kick.

On if Jansen has had some bad snaps: Nope. When you have a veteran long snapper that's out there, you've most certainly got to look. And that's what the intention is - to look.

On if the starters could play longer than normal in the last preseason game: It depends on how the week goes in terms of the work, and then we'll go from there. It's a little early to start talking about how many reps we want to make sure the starters have. This is a good full week. This is not a short week or anything like that. This is a seven-day week, so we should be able to get a good bit of work in. Then we'll determine once we get to Wednesday based on how we feel about practice.

On his review of the tape from the Cincinnati Bengals game: Any time you get an opportunity to put the tape on, you see things that are promising and then you see some things that are bothering. We talked about the same thing coming off of Miami, we're a player, we're a circumstance away from things happening and being positive. We came out the first drive defensively, we had a couple of third downs and chances to get off the field right away - we didn't do it. Then we got a takeaway. Offensively, we made a couple of things happen. Cam threw the ball high twice. If he brings those down, those are good completions for us. The biggest thing that came out of it was seeing what his potential can be. I know potential is a scary word, but the young man just continues to progress and did some really good things. When we watched the tape, we came away feeling good about what we could be on offense. Then defensively, we were a little disappointed that we didn't take advantage of some of the opportunities we had.

On what the defensive line needs to do to get more pressure: First and foremost, we've got to get all of our guys on the field ready to go. But we've just got to keep working. We've got a group of young guys that are playing an awful lot right now. We haven't had our complete group out there working together. They've got to work on their stunts; they've got to work on their get offs, their timing. It's just a matter of work, and that's the only thing we can do right now - just continue to work and grow and get better.

On if Everette Brown will start again at defensive end versus the Pittsburgh Steelers: We'll see. Everything depends on this week. We're not just putting guys out there because there is a rotation or something like that. It's about who's looking better and better each day.

On signing defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer: Here's a guy that came out of North Carolina and played in a 4-3 defense. He got a drafted by a team that played a 3-4 and traded to a team that played a 3-4. As we looked at him, we thought this was a young man that might have been playing out of position. We think he might be a little bit of a 3, a tilt nose for us as well, a guy that's a gap control player. With his size and his athleticism, we're hoping that translates and can fit into what we want to do.

On what the defensive line needs to do to improve containment: We've to make sure we are a little bit better on that. We've got to get up field and make sure we hold the point better.

On if tackle Geoff Schwartz (hip) and fullback Tony Fiammetta (concussion) could be placed on injured reserve: It's hard to say. With Schwartz, we're waiting for him to turn the corner with that hip, hopefully. Then with Tony, we're waiting for him to clear up. We'll see. We've got to go through the protocol with the injuries, and that's what is happening right now.

On the severity of Fiammetta's concussion: It's hard to say. We're in the same situation with (safety) Kevin Payne, who is another young man that had a concussion but hasn't yet cleared the tests. We just follow the protocol and we want to make sure these guys are healthy and right when we put them back on the field.

On if there is a spot for a fullback in this offense: There is, most certainly. The guy that has been playing it is Richie Brockel. I know we have him listed as a tight end, but Richie has been playing the fullback spot in place of Tony right now.

On if he intends to keep at least one fullback on the roster: Absolutely, most certainly.

On the status of quarterback Tony Pike: Tony had elbow surgery. I think there was a little bit of nerve work that had to be done.

On maintaining the team's confidence: We're a young team and we're growing and we're progressing and we're going to learn how to do things the right way. When we're not doing those things, the thing we can't do is sit there and say, "We'll get better." We've got to continue to teach them and coach them up and get them going.