Comments from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera following the team's morning training camp practice.
On how the team looked following Saturday night's practice: Pretty good. We had an opportunity to watch the tape last night and actually were quite pleased with what we saw on tape. We saw some guys step up and make some things happen. I felt good about what our quarterbacks are doing in terms of grasping the offense. I thought a lot of the young defensive players had an opportunity to practice a little bit more, and they looked pretty solid. Then, I was real pleased with how the special teams are looking.
On the team's fitness level after the work stoppage compared to other years: That's kind of why we're doing what we're doing this morning. Instead of going back-to-back-to-back-to-back, we decided when we looked at it that probably one of the better things we could do today is slow it down, get a little more instructional period, walk through at a good teaching pace, a good learning pace for the players. That's what we tried to do, and I think it worked out pretty good today. Also, it gives a chance to get their legs back, so tonight we can have a really good tempo.
On if fewer players will rotate through at each position because the Panthers did not have offseason mini-camps or organized team activities (OTA's): Once we get a lot of the guys back, things will start to work themselves out. But that (quarterback) is probably one of the positions that we've got to make sure we continue to rotate guys through.
On how much it holds the team back not having newly signed free agents available to practice until August 4: It doesn't hold us back. What it does is it helps the guys that are practicing. That's probably the big benefit. Where it does hold us back is obviously a lot of the guys that are waiting to practice are guys that you're counting on to be your starters, your playmakers. A great example is on the defensive side. Right now, we only have three guys that have started for us at one time that are working. So that is a little bit of a handicap as far as that is concerned. But I've said it before to the guys that are working, take advantage of it.
On negotiations with unsigned draft choice
On if the Panthers need another cornerback after unrestricted free agent Richard Marshall signed with the Arizona Cardinals: Somewhere along the line we're going to look at it, but right now I think the guys that are working have shown well. Again, we're not in pads, it's not a game situation. But guys are getting opportunities, and there are guys that are flashing for us right now. So we feel pretty confident with that. They wouldn't be here if we didn't have confidence in them. The thing that we do look forward to as far as that's concerned is when August 4th does come or whenever it happens to get all those guys back on the field.
On when he expects rookie cornerback
On the improvement of wide receiver
On how quickly players will be able to pick up the offense without the benefit of offseason mini-camps and OTA's: I believe it's just a matter of time, I really do. I think what Coach Chud (offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) is installing can pay dividends, because we have guys that do have the ability to make plays. Our running game can be solid. I think our receivers can step up and contribute. With the additions that we've made at tight end, I think it will be a formidable weapon for us. I think there's a good group of playmakers. Again, it's getting to know our guys, our guys getting to know our system. So the better we teach them and coach them up and the faster they learn, the better we can become.
On if the practices will change as the players get to know the system better: Yes they will. As they grow within the system, the system will grow with them. Right now what we're trying to do is make sure our guys are learning our base fundamentals and techniques that they need to have some success on the football field. As they grow as football players, most certainly I know Coach Chud and Coach McDermott (defensive coordinator Sean McDermott) for that matter as well Brian Murphy, our special teams coordinator, will start to put the more complexities to what we do in all three phases.
On how much question there is surrounding the quarterback position: There is a lot of question. It's a competition, and I want to keep it that way. I want them to compete all the way through because I think that makes everybody better. We're not going to give anything like that away. That's too valuable, too important for us, and we're most certainly going to have them work until it's time to decide.
On if the Panthers will sign a veteran quarterback: Marty is working on certain things, and as that all unfolds and gets put together, Marty will enlighten everybody to it.
On how he feels now that training camp has started and he has two practices under his belt: I feel excited. I was nervous the first day obviously and I told everybody so. Now I'm excited. It's a growing process for me as well as the players. As each practice goes, each meeting, each time I get an opportunity to spend with our guys, it's exciting. It was exciting last night to know we had a good turnout of fans that showed their support for us, and we've got to give them something to cheer about. I really am excited about the opportunity now.
On if being a head coach is what he thought it would be: It's everything I thought it would be and more. It really is. As I said, I'm going to grow in the position, and the position will grow on me, and I'm excited about it.
On what convinced him about Rob Chudzinski to make him the offensive coordinator: He's meticulous and he wants to be good. Probably better said, he wants to be great. I love his meticulous nature. I love how detail-oriented he is. I love the way he asks questions. He thinks about the questions he wants to ask. He's very confident in his abilities. His statements that he makes about offensive football I think are right on. I had the fortune of working with him for a couple of years and watching him work with Coach Turner (San Diego Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner), who I admire tremendously.
On how much of the offense will be Chudzinski's: I'll say this about Chud. Chud's not so that he thinks it's all about him. I'll tell you that right now. That's another thing I'm also impressed with. It's about using the stuff that he knows that works and the stuff that he knows our guys will be able to handle.
On if the team is focused on moving forward and putting the 2010 season in the past: Absolutely. I'll bring up the past all the time to remind the guys that we can change it. It's up to us to change it. It doesn't have to be the same. I've told them, "We're going forward. If you want to do anything, study and learn from the past, because we don't want to make those same mistakes."