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Game Quotes: Panthers vs. Chargers


On Kelvin Benjamin's performance today and if he was he benched for the  final series: "No, we had him out because that wasn't his personnel groupings. I saw him make some plays and had some opportunities to make more plays. That was it."

Regarding the early pressure on Philip Rivers: "Yes, that was the attitude. That was the idea was to have it happen early and we were able to do that and have success, create some takeaways and some field position. Early on the field position was huge. We would have loved to see us punch it in and score some touchdowns as opposed to kicking field goals."

On the pass rush: "I thought our guys did a nice job, I really do. I thought Sean McDermott mixed up his calls early on. I think some of the games that Eric Washington had in play, our defensive line used very effectively. It was good to have Mario Addison back out there with his speed. A guy like that with that kind of explosiveness is important to what we are trying to do."

On the performance of the rookie corners: "I think those young corners are showing what they are capable of. They are developing. It is kind of nice to have them out there. The hard part obviously for both of those guys at one point is they missed a little bit of time. Now they are out there and they are getting the opportunity to play fulltime. That is huge and good to see."

On whether or not the distribution to wide receivers in first half helped with early lead: "I think so. I think early on if you can get everybody involved, it is a good thing. It kind of spreads the defense out a little bit. They have to play certain ways on certain calls. We got a little stale there in the third quarter but we came back and did some better things and some things that we needed to do in the fourth."

On the performance of the offensive line: "I thought they had their moments. Again, there were a couple times when we really needed them to come through, they did. They protected the quarterback for the most part. At times we gave up a couple of plays but I also thought they opened up some holes and gave Jonathan Stewart the opportunity to run the football. We got Fozzy Whittaker on the edge a couple times as well."

On the play of Devin Funchess: "Devin is that kind of player. He deserves the opportunities. He has been working very hard. I think Ricky Proehl has done a really nice job with him. He is one of those young guys that again, sometimes the opportunities get limited because of the players we have. We have a good group as far as the wide receivers are concerned. Again, when the quarterback finds those guys and gets them the ball, gives them the chance, they can make plays for us."

Regarding the effects on pass rush with Kawann Short playing inside and out: "I thought he did a nice job. He gave us some really good push when we needed it for the most part. We wanted to start out early. We thought they were going to try and run the ball with Melvin Gordon and then he got hurt unfortunately. I hope the young man is fine. But then we put him back inside and he was really stout at the point for us, made some plays and was explosive."

On his message to the team after the third quarter considering team's previous 4th quarter performances: "Nothing, other than keep pounding. Honestly. Again, I really felt good about it. I thought Sean McDermott had a really good game plan and he did a nice job. He really did. I liked the way he called the game. He brought some really timely pressures. He used everybody today too. He brought corners a couple times, brought the nickel and used the safeties and the linebackers. I thought early on in the game, the way he mixed it up really kind of got Philip Rivers off balance a little bit. I thought that was very instrumental in us taking the lead the way we did."

On Kurt Coleman's development as a player and team leader: "It's been interesting because Kurt has moved from the free safety to the strong safety position for us. That way it facilitates Tre Boston's opportunities. Tre has done a nice job. He did miss a timely jump early on that led to a play in the second quarter but again, I thought Tre did a nice job as well. I think those safeties are really kind of getting a feel for one another now. I think it has helped in terms of how they communicate."

Whether or not he had an issue with Kelvin Benjamin's effort after overturned interception: "When you ask him, he said he thought the guy was down to begin with anyways. Again, he wasn't happy with the lack of call there so that you'll have to ask him. The issue I had was that I saw the ball hit the ground so I assumed it was down. It kind of took a little bit to get him started. You do want to make sure everyone understands to get the guys down but when you ask him he is going to tell you he thought the ball was on the ground."

On if Kelvin played to the last whistle: "Yeah, I'm fine with that. Ok. I am. I'm not quite sure where you guys are going with it. On both times, one he was down by contact, the other time the ball hit the ground. I'm not sure what you are trying to create here."

On Shaq Thompson's performance: "I thought Shaq has played very well. Again, today with AJ Klein up and Luke Kuechly down, we used Shaq in the nickel situations. I thought he came through. Shaq is a very exciting player. We brought him a couple times on blitzes as well. He was able to put a little bit of pressure on the quarterback. He is really rounding into a pretty solid player."

Thoughts on if the performance of the defensive line and front seven has been consistently one of the better groups this season: "I think it has. I think the group has done a nice job and again, today is a nice reflection on what their abilities are and what they are capable of. We have had some opportunities to make plays and I think the guys did a nice job."

On How do you characterize the fourth quarter today considering the team has lost five games by three points or less this season: "Better. But again, we missed some opportunities and some early on. There are some things again that if we could put some points up on the board early, in other words score touchdowns as opposed to kicking field goals; it's a different type of fourth quarter and probably a different type of third quarter as well. That's the nature of the game. You have to give them credit too. They are professional athletes trying to come out and compete as well."

On whether or not he will scoreboard watch later today: "We will see. We will just listen to what is going on throughout the league but at the end of the day our concern is our next game. We play the Redskins on Monday night and I believe our guys are going to prep and get ready. As I told them in the locker room, our intention is to win them all."

Thoughts on Jonathan Stewart's somersault play: "It was awesome. I saw it the whole way and I was trying to cheer him on. It's kind of neat because Jonathan is a physical player. When he gets rolling, I think it really helps with our mentality."

Regarding Luke Kuechly's status: "Again, he is still in the protocol. Each time whoever he sees has to be comfortable enough to allow him to take the next step. That much I know. What was said and what was decided, I couldn't tell you."

On Luke Kuechly's status this week: "We will see. He will go through it. He is still in the protocol. Each time is another step."

Has a decision been made on Luke Kuechly's season? "No. I will go along with what the doctors tell me. That's the truth of the matter."


On whether or not he discussed the near misses and the interception that was called back with Kelvin Benjamin: "No I haven't, but the film will tell everything. We had a couple near misses and you know, it's about the chemistry. It's about, you know, practice. We worked that in practice and I was so confident that we were going to get it because of how much we worked, yet that's just how it plays out sometimes. We just have to go back to the drawing board and get better at it next week."

On if he felt the game was complete offensively and defensively: "It wasn't. The defense played lights out for us, gave us unbelievable field position. You know offensively, not to rain on the win, we have to put up points – points as in getting touchdowns. If we do that, that game is out of hand earlier and that's what imposing our will is. We have to have that type of mentality, that killer instinct and we didn't have it. But we found ways to win and that's positive and the optimism of it."

On how Devin Funchess returned to the game after getting stitches: "Of course. Fun-Fun is a person that is reliable and so much that we ask of him is not just catching the ball. I respect him and the Philly Browns of the world that are great teammates and are core guys that get the job done. The nasty plays, so to speak, and his production ranges way more than a catch that he may have. It's good for him to come back to show the toughness. He already had my respect and for him to do that made it even better."

Regarding Devin Funchess is setting a higher bar for the receivers: I wouldn't say that. He's just doing his job, and that's what we all have to do."

On how he is feeling after the win: "Winning swept a lot of things and a lot of feelings up from that rug, and just going to the next one. Now when you lose, all that debris that you try to sweep up, it's still up on top of the rug. For us, it's happy. We're happy that we got a win today. Hopefully we can keep it going."

On reuniting with Josh Norman next week at Washington: "It's not a game about him versus us. We just need to win this game."

On Jonathan Stewart's somersault run: "He's a cat. Pudgy cat. House cat. It was good to see Stew keep his balance and that's what he can do. For him to have the wherewithal to keep going, that's another thing too.

On Coach Rivera's unconditional faith in the team: "We just have to make sure that when he believes in us that we give maximum effort. I don't think nobody's effort has halted yet. He keeps us energized. He keeps us focused. And that's the type of attitude that keeps us going moving forward."

Regarding how he feels about the reorganized offensive line: "Guys are just doing their job, doing everything. They come in for practice and throughout the week and work. Coach Matsko and those guys do a great job of having everybody prepared. I'm satisfied, for me, but like I mentioned earlier, it's pretty much on me for those near misses and you just have to get everybody the ball and get the ball out of my hands as soon as possible."


On the O-line: "We just go out there every week and work our tails off and try to put on a show on Sunday. We got the W today and I couldn't be more proud of my guys."

On the team's mindset: "There is no quit in this facility. There is no quit in anybody that walks through these doors. We're going to keep going, keep pounding and see what happens."

On the defense's performance: "Exciting, definitely exciting. Nothing but an adrenaline rush. You want to go out and score for those guys to play complementary football and keep it going."


Regarding his performance: "Well if you take the ball away in this league you're going to win. Giving the offense an opportunity to score more times than not in a positive territory, I mean that's our job. And we did a great job at creating turnovers and obviously that translated into points for us today."

On coach's message of putting pressure on early: "Yeah, I think pressure early helps. Just the movement up front by the D-line, they did a great job. Obviously when we cause pressure we have got to get to the quarterback and he wasn't comfortable all day so that's obviously a shout out to the D-line for getting after him today."

On his comfort level on the field: "More comfortable, but it has been the same thing the past three or four years being the back-up to Luke and just being able to play when my name is called. So, I definitely feel more comfortable today, but there's things that I need to improve on from last week and I feel like I had a good game this week."


Thoughts on the strong defensive performance today: "It was great, that was something we wanted to focus on today. Just knowing the week we had last week was under our character and very not like us. We wanted to reinstate ourselves and really just show the identity of our defense."

On what went through his head on the play he intercepted Philip Rivers: "Just making a play on the ball. That's what we've been working on all week, just turnovers. We've been exceptional in practice this week, overemphasizing it. The results showed in the game."

Thoughts on the five takeaways by Carolina's defense: "That's key. Whenever you're taking the ball away and giving our offense more opportunities to score, we're definitely doing our job and that's a high point in the game."


On if he thinks his somersault play will go viral: "I'll retweet it and put it on my Instagram."

On what the fourth down play says about Coach Rivera's confidence in the offense: "Whenever he gives us an opportunity to really go out and make something happen, on a fourth and short, it's a confidence builder for the offense. I know offense likes those moments, when we have to do what we have to do, and it means a lot for coach to have trust in us like that."


On Carolina's defense forcing five turnovers: "That's a pretty good defensive stat line there. You're going to win a lot of ball games with stats like that on the defensive side of the ball. So hats off to them, they got us in a lot of short fields. A couple times, we did a good job. A couple of times, we settled for field goals which fortunately didn't come back to hurt us. We understand we have to be better in those situations. When we have short field like that, especially early, we have to be able to convert those to touchdowns. That's probably the biggest takeaway from this game, just taking advantage of opportunities. I think the real story is how well the defense played."

On running the clock out at the end of the game: "Those were some hard-fought runs. Stew did a great job and the offensive line. It was tough sledding in there a few times. We weren't getting a lot, but we just kept chipping and obviously that last drive, converting that fourth down and really running the ball there the last time we had the ball was enough to bleed the clock and not give them any opportunity to do anything with the ball."

Thoughts on his 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nomination: "It was a nice honor. I was appreciative that the team took the time to recognize me for that nomination. I'm just thankful, again for the second year, being the nominee for the team knowing we have a lot of good guys on this team that they could choose from. We'll see how the process plays out, but I'm just thankful and appreciative that the team recognized."


On coming back to play this week after last week's loss in Seattle: "We just knew last week wasn't good enough and last week was not us. We came out today and we wanted to show everybody that our defense is still good. Last week was just a fluke. The biggest thing is everybody did their job. Everybody came out focused. It all started in our preparation during the week. Our D-Line got after it and our back seven got after it. The front and the coverage all worked together."

On the game plan against San Diego: "We just saw that they had trouble with a lot of movement over the past couple of games. Our defensive line did a great job. Coach McDermott did a great job calling the plays and like I said, our defensive line got after it."


Thoughts on the turnovers: "The front seven and back seven working with each other and great coaching schemes. All week, the coaches were on us about what we needed to get done this week, which was getting turnovers.  We were able to go out there and do it, get turnovers, and not only that but get the ball to the offense on their side of the field, and that's big. We are just playing good ball right now."

His emotions after the big takeaways: "Juiced! It's a great feeling."It's a feeling of momentum. The stadium going crazy because we just got a turnover, those are huge. The offense comes on with a little juice, they are able to go down there and score. That's the biggest thing about momentum; once you get it, you've got to maintain it, and focus it and get some points off of it."


On his performance: "I'm just here to do whatever is asked of me. However I can contribute – it's a group effort. It's not just on one guy. I think everybody was there but a chip away. Ultimately, I think we're a big factor as a front, not just one individual guy."

On the performance of Kawann Short and Mario Addison: For those two weeks, you definitely miss Mario. Mario is our third-down, go-to guy. To have him back in the lineup, I think it kind of put a spark in everybody, knowing he was back out there. Then KK, every week, he's consistent. He brings it. We just rely on guys like that to be the factor in those crucial points of the game, third and fourth quarter when the game's on the line.

View game action photos from Carolina's 28-16 win over San Diego.

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