SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Describing Richie Brockel's role on the Panthers can be tough. But wherever he lines up, Brockel brings an element of toughness that head coach Ron Rivera appreciates.
"Richie is a jack of all trades. He does the things that we need. He does the dirty work," Rivera said. "There's a toughness about Richie that I like, and it transfers over to his teammates.
"The thing about guys like him, you get enough good, physical football players and it spreads to the other guys that need it. Having a guy like Richie around is important."
When asked about Rivera's complimentary remarks, Brockel smiled and shrugged.
"I don't know; I always go out and try as hard as I can," said Brockel, who has played in 43 games in three years with Carolina. "It's just naturally fallen that way, and I try to lead by example and do the right thing. That's just kind of fallen into place for me."
Brockel, who originally signed with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent four years ago, may not be one of the most athletically gifted players on the roster, but his tenacious effort has earned him a role, or several roles, in the NFL.
"My role is pretty diverse. I do a lot of the tight end stuff, a lot of fullback, special teams. I'm kind of just a football player," he said. "I've been joking with (defensive coordinator Sean) McDermott about trying to get me over to the defense."
Playing defense might be a stretch, but Brockel proves his worth to the offense by embracing the competitive nature of the game. The blitz pickup drill against the linebackers is a perfect example.
"That's one of my favorite drills," Brockel said. "The tight ends, we take a lot of pride in one-on-ones, especially the pass rush drill with the linebackers. It's one-on-one competition, and there is nothing more fun than that. You can get exposed because it is one-on-one and that's what makes it so fun. You're really getting after it and there is a clear winner and loser."