Game Quotes: Panthers vs. Steelers

HEAD COACH RON RIVERA

On being impressed with Cameron Artis-Payne and the running backs: "As a whole the running back group played very well today. They really did. I thought they did some really good things. We are in a tough spot with those guys."

His reason for James Bradberry not playing: "No, nothing was wrong. We decided not to play him. We had some other guys we really wanted to look at and I don't know if you noticed the rotation we had with all the defensive backs, the corners specifically."

On the tough roster decisions to make at running back and receiver: "I think the thing about it is we have some tough decisions ahead. We are going to break this tape down tomorrow and really get after it. We are going to do it quickly because obviously we play Thursday night."

On Jalen Simmons' performance: "Here is a young guy who really wants it. He ran hard. He did some really good things. As I said earlier we are going to have some tough decisions ahead."

On his comfort level with James Bradberry going into Denver after not playing tonight: "I'm very comfortable with him. Very comfortable with things he has done for the most part. I think he has done a really nice job. I think Daryl Worley has done a nice job as well. But Bene Benwikere showed very nicely today as did Robert McClain. We've got some things we need to look at and work out as we go through setting up our nickel package, our base package as well. These will be things we discuss."

On seeing Graham Gano kick as often as he did: "That's always good because he has a new holder and he has to work on that. There were a couple spots that I was thinking about going for it on fourth down but I really did fight that urge and let the snapper/holder/kicker work together."

On the performance of the defensive ends: "I thought Arthur Miley played hard. Ryan Delaire looked really good out there. Larry Webster is another young guy that got some mixed in the snaps. We have some young guys who are really competing. It's going to be some things that we have to look at."

On new punter Andy Lee's performance: "That's what we were hoping for. We made the move for a reason. I think that bringing a guy like that here to a team that I guess is a bit of a veteran team, I think that fits us very nicely."

On the excitement surrounding Kelvin Benjamin being back with team: "I'm very excited. The big thing that I hope we continue is to continue to be an offense that spreads it around. Again, I think everyone has to understand that last year a lot of guys established who they are in this league. I thought Ted Ginn Jr. showed very nicely. I thought Devin Funchess and Corey Brown are guys that really brought something to the table. Greg Olsen obviously at the tight end position along with Ed Dickson, I think those guys really took another step. I think our offense has to continue to grow and take steps. Again, I know a couple years ago we were really heavy at getting the ball at Kelvin and I would love to continue to see us spread it because it will only open things up for everyone else."

His thoughts on the quick turnaround before the regular season: "It makes it really tough. That's the hard part. Everybody else gets 10 or 11 days off before they play their game and we have a quick turnaround and be ready in 7 days. We are going to go to work first thing tomorrow. Coaches have already been working on Denver. That's why we also did a couple practices on Denver already, mostly with our veteran guys, so we could get a little jump."

His assessment of preseason games and training camp: "I think we are headed in the right direction. I am. By no means are we were I want to be but I feel very comfortable with us. I think we did some really good things during the preseason. Again, going back to last week I would have really liked for us to get the ball into the end zone. You move the ball like we did and its disappointing. But looking at what we did in the whole preseason, I'm obviously pleased with that. I think there were some really good things in the first two games and as I said in the third game the only thing that bothered me is we didn't finish the plays."     

QB JOE WEBB

On blocking downfield: "I sell out for my teammates. If I see them break outside and I can throw a block to help spring them then I'm going to lay my body on the line."

On his leadership role with the younger guys on the team: "Oh yeah, they look up to me. They ask me a lot of questions and I try to speak wisdom to them. Let them know, hey, just control what you can control and that's all you can do."

On how he thought the receivers played: "Yeah they played well. They made some great catches, got open and it was just a great job all around. From the offensive line to the running back, we couldn't get it in the end-zone which is what we wanted to do, but we came out with the win." 

On the quality of football players who will get cut after tonight: "Yeah, I mean it's really sad and unfortunate that not everyone can make it, but you put good film out there, 31 other teams will be looking at you. Hopefully they've put good enough film out here that they can make the cut somewhere else."

RB CAMERON ARTIS-PAYNE

On winning the preseason finale: "It's a good feeling for the whole room. It's something that we wanted to work on all week. We wanted to be more aggressive up front, and those guys came out and did that and gave us running room tonight."

On the differences in his game from last year:"Just being more comfortable and knowing what to expect in my second year. Knowing the offense a lot better, being able to read the defense and get a pre-snap read, that's contributing to the blocking a lot."

On what he has improved on in year two: "Vision is a big thing for me. Being able to see and react to the defense. Just seeing stuff in the peripheral. I would probably say vision is the biggest thing."

P ANDY LEE

On the benefit of practicing holding for the kicking team: "More making me comfortable. You're still, in the end, catching a snap and putting it down. But you're also catching a snap from a long snapper. Me and J.J. [Jansen] worked together a little bit in the offseason because we're friends and we're both here in the offseason. Just getting familiarity there in a game situation and trying to making sure I do what Graham Gano wants me to do and make sure the hold is the way it needs to be. Just getting that experience so it will become second-nature so I can go out there and not think about it so much."

On holding the ball for kicks being overlooked by many people: "Oh yeah, I would say my job is I punt the ball but also I always tell Graham that I work for him. I am here for whatever you need. I am here to do the best job to make you successful as well."

WR BRENTON BERSIN

Thoughts on young players taking advantage of playing time: "Well we didn't have a lot of receivers playing tonight – me, [Damiere] Byrd and the young guy Key [Keyarris Garrett]. He should have had a touchdown on that one, I don't think that was a good call and that was a great play. I hope Norwood is okay. He got hurt in the first half. Joe did a great job running the offense and he gave us opportunities to make plays."

On the team's success moving the ball down the field: "It all started with the running game. The backs, especially Cameron Artis-Payne, ran the ball really well and that starts with the O-line. Joe Webb got us in opportunities for the receivers to make plays and also the tight ends."

On the struggle that coaches will face cutting the roster to 53 players: "Yeah, especially with the receivers. We've got a great group and four guys didn't even play tonight. All of them are great. They could be starters in this league. Then you have me, Key, Byrd and Norwood. We're all fighting for that spot. We've got a lot of talent in the room and that brings out the best in us."

OT DONALD HAWKINS

On the running game on offense: "It's always a great feeling when the team runs the ball. I didn't have to pass block that much. It's a team effort. From the right tackle to the left tackle, it's a team effort."

On the importance of the fourth preseason game: "It means a lot, even for a roster spot. You can be playing well a whole preseason and have a bad fourth game and they're going off of what you did last. It was important to have a good last game."

K GRAHAM GANO

On his workload: "I mean we had a lot of reps tonight. I don't think I've had that many field goal attempts in a game. So it was good. It was really important because Andy[Lee], JJ[Jansen] and I haven't worked together in a game behind the line and we had a lot of work tonight so I feel like we're ready for Denver." 

His Thoughts on Andy Lee's debut: "Yeah, he's great. We had one practice together. The first rep in the game we had was the first time we had a line of scrimmage in front of us so… He's held for a lot of good kickers, Phil Dawson, David Akers and a bunch others so I know he's already a great holder, so that just makes it more comfortable for me."

On his excitement for the regular season to begin: "I'm definitely excited. It's always exciting to get the regular season going. Still have to come back on Saturday, which is going to be a tough day for a lot of guys, so I'm not looking forward to that day but after that we're going to have our eyes set on Denver." 

CB JAMES BRADBERRY

On the coaches' decision to not have him dress for the game: "It's an awesome feeling because you know they expect a lot from me. Hopefully I can come through during next Thursday's game."

Thoughts on how the defense fits together: "I feel like if you watch the past three preseason games, we form well as a defense as a whole. That was our main goal. Not to really show individually that we're the best or we're the guy here, but to just play our role in defense and I hope to show that. We're a great defense all together."

DT VERNON BUTLER

On if the pro game is coming easier to him: "Yeah, it's really coming easier than when I first got here. It used to be hard but thanks to guys like Star (Lotulelei) and KK (Kawann Short) and Coach Washington have helped me a whole lot."

On how it helps playing behind veterans: "Behind those guys… those guys are good. Being behind those guys is helping you a whole lot. Helping you get ready for when it's your chance for you to step up, will you be able to be ready?"

On if he would be ready if he had to start: "Oh yeah, no doubt. I'm ready to play."

View game action photos from Carolina's 18-6 preseason win over Pittsburgh.

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