Game Quotes: Panthers vs. Saints

HEAD COACH RON RIVERA

Regarding second half injuries: "We will see. The biggest thing is honestly Ryan Kalil in the middle of the third quarter just couldn't go anymore. His shoulder got sore so we took him out. Chris Scott came in and finished up. Luke Kuechly took a shot and he is with the doctors right now. We will see how everything is."

Regaring your emotions as you saw the emotional scene surrounding Kuechly's injury? "You know him, he wants to play. We will see. I will go see how he is doing."

Is there a fear if Kuechly does have a concussion that he will miss significant time because he had a concussion last season? "I'm not going to speculate until I talk to the doctors. I'm not going to do that."

Was the players reaction to Kuechly's injury because of who he is as a player or the severity of the injury? "I think they would do that for any of their teammates if they think it's something like that. That's how they feel about one another. But Luke is a special one and they know that."

Is Ryan Kalil's injured shoulder the same as before? "Yes, it got sore like I said and he just couldn't go anyone so he took himself out. The doctors looked at it and they have him iced up right now."

Do you feel that it is a good win but with costly injuries? "You do. Again, you are always concerned about your players. That's the hard part. That's part of this game."

Even with win, did it feel like points were left on the field? "Most certainly. Again, we kicked three field goals and we had opportunities. The very first time we get down there, we make a couple of mistakes. We get a poor alignment and give up a sack and a tackle for loss. You can't have that. You just can't do that."

When the Saints started to come back, was there a feeling of repeating last week? "No, there was a feeling of let's stop it. I think that's the most important thing. I think Charles Johnson said it best about stopping people. That was good to see Charles step up and talk like that. I think it helped the guys."

Regarding frustration on running game's production: "It's tough. But again, you have to look at who is out there, who is doing the best that they can. That's the most important thing. Those guys are trying very hard. That's all that matters as far as I'm concerned. Those guys go out and compete and do the best they can. We will make plays and hopefully we will make enough to win football games."

When and where did Charles Johnson make his remarks to his teammates? "I think it was on the sideline, just listening to him talk. It's great to have a guy like that step up."

Regarding the 29 second span at the end of the first half? "It was one of those things where we got good surge, blocked it, Luke Kuechly caught it and took off running. We got the ball and Mike Shula felt very strongly about being able to throw the nine route. So he went ahead and called it and it was perfect, right where it needed to be thrown."

On Kelvin Benjamin's height being advantageous on his third and 15 catch: "It's one of those things that just show the benefit of having those types of guys out on the football field. We have a good group of young men and we just have to keep it rolling."

Thoughts on James Bradberry's penalty on blocked field goal: "Quite honestly I didn't see it. I really didn't. I was watching the ball so I didn't see that happen."

Thoughts on if a short week factors into all the second half injuries: "No, I'm not going to speculate on any of that stuff. It's an unfortunate part of the game."

On punter Michael Palardy's first game performance: "I thought he did a nice job. I really do. Probably the biggest unfortunate thing was that he had a great kick, perfectly on the sideline and unfortunately they call us for illegal man downfield. I thought he handled the situation/circumstances very nicely for us."

Thoughts on the performance of the secondary: "I thought they did exactly what we hoped for them to do and that was to keep it in front of us. Not give up anything big. I thought the safeties made some plays, obviously going sideline to sideline. You can't ask for guys to do a better job and that was great. Watching the young corners compete it was pretty solid."

On Mario Addison setting the tone early with strip sack: "It was great. That helped set the tempo and unfortunately Mario is one of the guys we have to check on as well and Leonard Johnson. The nice thing is we have ten days until we have to do anything. So we will go from there."

QB CAM NEWTON

On what led to the Panthers setting up pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the fourth quarter: "We were trying to cat and mouse our game. We were trying to get Benjy (Kelvin Benjamin) and Greg Olsen singled and isolated. They did a great job, had a great scheme with a short week taking those guys, trying to take those guys away from us. My job was to just give them the opportunity, give him a chance and he didn't disappoint."

If this game was a "breath of fresh air: "It's true but for us, you just have to keep fighting. We have to keep fighting. Our mantra is "Keep Pounding" and that speaks volumes in a situation like that. But time and time again this year, it kind of went the other way. But I'm just glad to see it and find ways to win. It wasn't pretty and I always say it. I've always heard of an ugly win. I'd take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day."

On his relationship with Luke Kuechly and his thoughts about his injury in the fourth quarter: "Luke is tough. I don't really know the whole details about what happened. My prayers are going up for him and you know, outside of football, making sure he's okay."

On how he balances the feelings of winning the game but losing a lot of players through injury: "It was the grim reaper walking out there today but we're professionals and I have full faith in our training staff to get guys back there come game time."

How he felt seeing Kuechly in the state he was in: "Well, you just don't know. You just don't know. I thought it was a foot, knee. I didn't know it was his head but like I said I'm praying for him for a speedy recovery."

If this win feels a little different than others due to injured players and other mistakes in the game: "I'm not about to let you guys downplay this win. We won. We won. So I'm excited that we won. We get to go into a mini bye week and get healthy. So that's my feeling."

Thoughts on the short week: "We were still feeling sore from the game before. Just willing and finding ways to win, that's what we have to get back to. Doesn't matter how we do it. Just finding ways to win."

If he thinks the Panthers can come back and win the division: "One game at a time. Of course we have our hopes high. We still have our sights to everything that we want. But it's still right in front of our eyes. It's going to be up to us to focus in, hone in and we're going to mend up for the next couple of days and get ready for Oakland."

Going into a mini bye week with a win: "Everybody is talking down and saying this and that. But look, I'm going to leave this and go to Atlanta and feel good. Me and my son are going to go on a run. He's going to cook for me. I talked to him. That's what he said he's going to do. I'm happy."

When Ryan Kalil left the game with a shoulder injury: "The next man up. I think every single position this year has had a person go down and another person had to step in and fill the void. It was no different today. Chris Scott, the savvy veteran, who has been around the League and knows his role. He did an unbelievable job."

His throw to Ted Ginn at the end of the first half and the times when the offense didn't have red zone success: "That just can't happen. You know when you look at certain things that we do good, those are checkmarks. But for us, we have to capitalize when our defense gives us that type of field position. And in this League, three points is good but we are trying to be great. Nevertheless, for us, our job is to put points up on the board. And the play before the half, it was negated by a penalty but yet just to keep the momentum and the next play, come back and have a big play by Ted is just spectacular."

The toll of Thursday night games on a player's body: "The whole toll of football. It's just football. You just have to roll with the punches. It wasn't like New Orleans was coming off a bye. They had the same days to get prepared, if not shorter days because of that traveling day. Coach had a plan going into this week being smart and trying to keep us as fresh as possible, knowing that guys were still sore and still feeling down. Not necessarily down but trying to mend up from the game before and for the most part, we had everybody back like we wanted to. We've got to find ways to get guys out of the training room and I know Ryan Vermillion and his staff will do that."

Having a flag thrown regarding the hit when he ran out of bounds: "Just make the right call. It is what it is but once again, I'm just excited that we got the much needed win today."

LB DAVID MAYO

What it was like out on the field when Luke was taken off: "I definitely think that we all felt for Luke. He is very loved and respected by all of his teammates. At the same time, it is the next man up mentality and we have to play team defense and learn it together."

Feeling a sense of retribution winning this week's game after last week: "I think it was just winning a football game. It was great to end up on top against a divisional opponent for sure, but we just have to win games, and we were just trying to win this game." CB JAMES BRADBERRY

Thoughts on teh win: "I know for me, I started off kind of slow, especially in the first half, but I felt like I settled in and started picking it up. I also made that dumb mistake on the field goal when Luke got the touchdown and I blocked the kicker in the back. I came back and tried to make a play."

On his penalty on the blocked field goal: "I learned from it and we won the game so that play is in the past. I'm not worried about it anymore."

On how important it was to get a win: "Definitely. It's a huge confidence booster. We're able to breathe again and hopefully get to the playoffs."

On what went well defensively: "No balls over our head. We didn't give up the big play. This offense is very dynamic. Drew is very smart. What they do well, is beat you with a lot of trickery. That was really our Achilles heel the first time we played them. I thought if you took away the bad big plays, we really did well against them. But this game we went into it said hey 'we gotta make the tackles.' They do have a lot of guys that can make you miss. I thought our front line did a great job on the run. We stopped the run. That really sets the tone of what are we doing, and that makes them one dimensional. With a lot of the screens, they went to the running back screens, and they didn't get loose. One thing when I go back and watch the film, in the fourth quarter those long drives; we had a couple of penalties that we need to work on so there are things we need to continue to work on. Wins are so hard in this league that we are going to enjoy this, we have ten days to get ready for Oakland and it's going to be a business trip out there."

What it's like seeing Luke in that condition: "I'm praying for him as a person. That's the number one thing. Even for Mark Ingram. You play this game with a lot of emotion, a lot of passion. Whether it's my team, their team, we are all brothers. You don't want to see guys go down like that with injuries. Just hoping it's precautionary and that he will be back sooner rather than later. That's all I can hope for. As far as with our team we have a next man up mentality. David stepped in ready to roll and made some solid calls. I think moving forward, if Luke is ready to play, then great, but if not that guy has to be ready to play at that level."

S KURT COLEMAN

On what went well defensively:"No balls over our head. We didn't give up the big play. This offense is very dynamic. Drew is very smart. What they do well, is beat you with a lot of trickery. That was really our Achilles heel the first time we played them. I thought if you took away the bad big plays, we really did well against them. But this game we went into it said hey 'we gotta make the tackles.' They do have a lot of guys that can make you miss. I thought our front line did a great job on the run. We stopped the run. That really sets the tone of what are we doing, and that makes them one dimensional. With a lot of the screens, they went to the running back screens, and they didn't get loose. One thing when I go back and watch the film, in the fourth quarter those long drives; we had a couple of penalties that we need to work on so there are things we need to continue to work on. Wins are so hard in this league that we are going to enjoy this, we have ten days to get ready for Oakland and it's going to be a business trip out there."

On what it's like seeing Luke in that condition: "I'm praying for him as a person. That's the number one thing. Even for Mark Ingram. You play this game with a lot of emotion, a lot of passion. Whether it's my team, their team, we are all brothers. You don't want to see guys go down like that with injuries. Just hoping it's precautionary and that he will be back sooner rather than later. That's all I can hope for. As far as with our team we have a next man up mentality. David stepped in ready to roll and made some solid calls. I think moving forward, if Luke is ready to play, then great, but if not that guy has to be ready to play at that level."

DE CHARLES JOHNSON

On winning the game: "It was a big win. It wasn't pretty at all. We have to learn how to put teams away. We have to build of off this win and just keep moving forward."

On putting pressure on the Saints without blitzing linebackers: "That's how we like it. That's how the D-line takes their pride. We don't want Coach McDermott to have to call blitzes. Blitzes are for mix-ups and changes. The D-line is supposed to take care of the quarterback and take care of the run. We just try to pride ourselves off of that and keep it going."

On trying to sack Saints QB Drew Brees: "He's the elite of the elite he's definitely going to be a Hall of Famer. It's so hard to get to this guy. Even when you get to him, he'll try to squirm out. He's just an all-around great quarterback. It's just very had to get him down because he's just sitting in that pocket and he's a small quarterback. He fits with the scheme. Your defensive tackles have to get push and your d-ends have to have a great angle and a great rush off the edge. If our D-line can get to the QB, it'll help out with our young guys in the back."

P MICHAEL PALARDY

On the importance of his fourth-quarter punts: "You have to be aware of the situational aspect of the game. I know that those punts, switching field position, were a big part of the game. I knew my job and what I had to do and I had to go execute. That's the most important thing – no matter what situation is presented, you have to go do your job and do it to the best of your ability. That's what I try to go do."

On Graham Gano and J.J. Jansen helping him this week after being signed on Monday: "They're the best. They're as professional as they come. Being here in the spring really helped with our camaraderie. Graham and I built a really good relationship. J.J. and I built a really good relationship. I think that transition was extremely smooth and it was almost like I had never left. Those guys are great. They're high-quality guys and I'm so blessed to call them teammates now and am happy to work with them in the future."

FB MIKE TOLBERT

Thoughts on the win: "It was necessary. We needed it. It was as close to a must-win game as you could call one. We needed it and we got it."

On Luke Kuechly getting injured: "That's our leader – one of the key components of our team. It's more than that, he's a brother of ours so when we see him down, a guy that's as tough as he is and as mighty and strong-spirited as he is – to see him in that predicament, it really hits home. So we wanted to check on him and make sure he's alright."

On wining the game after multiple players left the game injured: "We're happy about the win. We definitely needed it. But it's also bitter-sweet because Ryan [Kalil] went down and Luke [Kuechly] went down and Mario [Addison] went down – guys that we need. So hopefully those guys get healthy. We have a few days off and hopefully they can come back and we can make a push."

TE GREG OLSEN

Winning the game: "Just enough to win. We were up 23-3 in the third quarter. The wheels fell off the bus a little bit on offense. Kelvin saved the day. That catch on third down is the only reason we punted with 15 seconds left. That extra set of downs was just enough to bleed the clock. Obviously, his play there really saved the day."

Kelvin Benjamin's first down catch on the final drive of the game: "I'm happy for him. We needed that. He came through. We needed him. He's really been playing well as of late. I'm just happy for him. He was able to make the play that kind of finished the game. He deserves it."

LB SHAQ THOMPSON

Emotions going on when teammate goes down: "It sucked seeing one of my brothers go down. But, it's alright, I know he's going to be alright. We have the next man ready. David Mayo came in and did a phenomenal job and helped the rest of the game."

How it was returning: "It is hard to talk about. A lot of confidence I had to go out there with. You know, I felt like I wasn't myself at times, but it's something I had to push through and fight with. I had a brace on last year, so I know what it's like to play with a brace, so I just have to push through."

On team mentality when a teammate gets helped off the field: Just next man up. That's our whole mentality. David stepped up. A few other guys stepped up. Rob McClain stepped up. That's our whole philosophy, is the next man up and being ready to go.

Thoughts after seeing Luke go down: It's football, everyone's going to go down. You just never know. But he's going to be alright, you know like I keep saying, the next man up mentality. David's up and hopefully we get AJ back.

G TRAI TURNER

On winning the game: "Division opponent and a short week – we got the victory so I couldn't be happier."

Teammates going down with injuries: "Each week in practice, we have different guys come in and take reps. You never know what's going to happen throughout the game. In our room, we have a starter mentality. Everybody feels like they're a starter, they view themselves as a starter and they prepare as a starter. So whenever your number is called, it's not a surprise and you're prepared and ready."

On his emotion after the game: "Just excited. Just happy to get the win but we know we have a lot of work ahead of us. Check out the film to see the good things that we did and correct the bad."

View the top photos of Panthers vs. Saints by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez.

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