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Game Quotes: Panthers vs. Texans

Head Coach Ron Rivera

On Damiere Byrd: "Big things happened today with these young men, last couple of years just worked very hard, got an opportunity at the end of the season last year to play, made a couple of plays, and we were excited to see him. He's taking the opportunity, he's taking advantage. Again, it's just one game, it's one preseason game, but Damiere Byrd shows he has some ability."

On stretching field with Curtis Samuel out: "That's the neat thing about it. We've got a lot of young men out there that have speed at wide receiver and those guys showed very well.  Kaelin (Clay) showed his speed in the seam on a couple of catches. Once (Austin) Duke settled down he made a couple of big catches for us as well. I mean we've got a lot of young guys that have the speed we're looking for, and they showed very well today, they really did and I'm excited about it. I think the quarterbacks played well. I think Derek (Anderson) came in and handled the first unit very nicely. Really pleased with Joe (Webb), although I know Joe would like to have that interception back just before the half. Really pleased with Garrett (Gilbert) in there with the hodgepodge of the offensive line. I mean those guys played well, they did. And there were plays that the whole offensive line played well. The depth showed very nicely and then at the end we had to move guys around because a couple of guys got nicked and they held up pretty good, gave us a chance to move the ball. The running backs ran hard. It was good to see Jonathan (Stewart) get some opportunities. Christian (McCaffrey) did some really nice things that showed his speed. We had a screen that I thought we set up pretty nicely but unfortunately the ball got tipped, but we're going to find ways to get the ball in his hands obviously. Really pleased with the tight ends, obviously. Greg Olsen got in and got his time. I thought Ed Dickson played very, very nicely when he had to play a little bit longer in the 2nd quarter.  Again, I just really think the players are focusing in on getting better. Defensively, I liked what the first unit did right off the bat. I liked how they held up very nicely. The pass rush was there. The coverage was there.  I thought the linebackers flowed very quickly. I thought Steve Wilks for his first game as our coordinator did a nice job. I thought his staff handled things very well, especially under pressure a couple of times. Yes, it was exciting.  A little disappointed in the second unit. I know they were going against their first unit but still you'd like to see us…we had a couple of opportunities on third and long we didn't  get off the field, but I thought they did a nice job closing it out."

On Kelvin Benjamin's performance: "It's great to see Kelvin make that play. It's nice to see Devin Funchess out there making some plays as well. It's good to see guys that are working hard that are starting to come back into form. I think things really went well for us out there."

On Benjamin getting confidence back: "It's real big. That's what he did his rookie year for us and it's good to see him getting into that flow. He's got to continue to work. He's got to continue to make the sacrifices he has. He's got to control those things and he's got to continue to keep rehabbing and strengthening his leg like he has. He's progressing well and we've just got to continue as coaches making sure we give our guys a chance to win."

On the linebackers' performance: "I think we've got a pretty competitive bunch there. Our linebackers  are pretty doggone good. It's a battle, it really is. We like all nine guys. It's going to probably come down to the last game as to who gets the opportunity. We'll continue to give guys opportunity."

On the special teams: "We're going to continue to move guys around. That's exactly what he's doing (special teams coach Thomas McGaughey) and that's what this is all about. This training camp is about who wants to be here and who wants to be a part of what we're trying to do. They've got to earn that right."

On Brenton Bersin injury update: "I have none, I have not talked with R.V. (trainer Ryan Vermillion) yet or the doctors."

On the second unit and Dezmen Southward: "Dezmen did a nice job. I thought Colin Jones did as well. L.J. McCray, we blitzed him a couple of times and he showed his physicality. We've got three guys trying to battle and compete and it's still early. We've got three more games."

On the kickers: "I was a little disappointed when Graham (Gano) on that first kicked hooked it, but he came back strong and drilled the ball. He's having a really good camp right now. Harrison did a really good job, he really did. He stroked it, the 51 yarder. I don't think he hit that fully, but it was right down the middle. The punters, I know Andy wishes he had that first one back, but then he settled in. J.J. would be upset if I didn't say he handled snapping the ball well."

On Damiere Byrd's progression: "Yes, he's progressed very, very nicely, but then if you go back to his first year with us, the Super Bowl year with us he earned an opportunity to be on the practice squad with us and last year he was on the practice squad again.  At the end of the year we activated him and saw some flashes of his ability. We were excited about this opportunity to see his quickness and see him on the field."

Quarterback Derek Anderson

On his touchdown pass in the first quarter: "I just had one on one with ostrich (Kelvin Benjamin). It's what we've been working all camp, throwing balls up high enough where he can make plays. He came off the ball nice and he made a good play."

On possibly overthrowing Kelvin Benjamin on the touchdown: "No, I thought had that one. I do that occasionally, I'm like, 'there is no way he is going to catch that' and then he does. That one, I felt good about it as soon as a I let it go."

On the effect of this win for the team: "I think it's good. Obviously we talk about coming out and starting fast. With our group, we executed fairly really well. I thought we had a few mistakes, but you aren't going to be perfect with the first one."

On what he has seen from Damiere Byrd: "A lot of that (touchdowns). He's had a great camp and he had a great spring, obviously coming back from a banged up knee last year. He's going to continue to get better every single day. He played unbelievable tonight. Made some great plays and that's what it is all about, when the opportunity comes, you've got to make plays."

Linebacker Ben Boulware

On what he can improve on going forward: "Just learn the defense more. I feel like I've been pretty consistent all throughout camp; just doing my job, communicating, being a quarterback of the defense. There is always more I can learn, more I can obtain from Luke (Kuechly), TD (Thomas Davis) and Shaq (Thompson). Just be like a sponge. This is a complicated defense. There are a lot of ins and outs that I still don't know yet. I feel like I have a good foundation, but I need to continue building on that foundation."

On playing his first game in Charlotte: "It was cool. I actually ran on this field a couple times with Clemson, so it's not too new to me. It's the first time out that I've run in this new uniform, so it was a cool experience. I'm used to the field, used to the grass. I've played here a couple of times at Clemson. But it was a great experience."

On playing against his Clemson teammates: "It was different. I was hoping I would get in there against Deshaun (Watson). I knew when I got in that it might be his last series, but I was a little too late. I knew going in that I was going to be one of the later guys in, but it was cool. It was different, but it was cool. It was cool playing in different uniforms and getting to meet him. I haven't talked to him in a long time, at least face to face. Just being able to catch up with him, give him a hug, just seeing him was a cool experience."

On his first NFL game: "It was cool. It was kind of one of the first things I wanted to accomplish, just getting the first game out of the way and just the first snap of an NFL game. At the end of the day it's ball, at the end of the day it's just football and I felt like I was prepared for it. I felt like I was confident out there. I studied a lot and after the first play, it's football. Once you get between those white lines, that's probably a little easier than the practices are because they stress you a lot in the practice. But, at the end of the day, it's ball and I thought it was a solid day."

Wide Receiver Damiere Byrd

On the excitement following the win: "Oh yes, definitely. Anytime you have a good game and score two touchdowns, you are going to be excited because you are able to make plays and help this team win."

On the Texans defense: "They made it easy on us. Our quarterbacks had a lot of time. Our quarterbacks were able to get the ball off and were able to take those shots that we would like to do for our offense."

On catching the punt: "It was a plus-50 punt. Initially, I was ready to fair catch it. He gave me a short one with no hang time and I was able to field it clean. Special teams coaches all over say returners have to make one miss and I was able to do so. Everyone else made their blocks and I was able to get to the edge."

On his speed giving him an edge: "My entire life, speed was my thing. Anytime I am going vertical, doing post-routes or deep goes, I am gone. I am looking for the ball and if it is there, I'm going to get it."

Running Back Christian McCaffrey

On his first action in the NFL: "It felt great. You get so lost in the grind sometimes that you forget that football is the best thing in the world. As soon as that first play happened, we were ready to roll. That was a lot of fun. It was good to get out there and finally play again. Learn from it, get all the jitters out and now it's time to roll."

On his performance: "I mean today was just one of those days where I don't really focus on what I can accomplish. If I have something, I have to take it. A couple times, I got tripped up where I felt like I should've kept my feet. That's why you learn now and once the regular season comes, you get after it."

On if he was ever close to breaking off a big run: "Yeah, just twice, I felt like I could've made one more cut maybe and would've broke one. But it is what it is. Sometimes they don't fall your way but I had a blast out there playing."

Linebacker Jared Norris

On the defensive team performance: "There's always room for improvement. I think we stopped the run to some effect, but we can always be better in that. We did a great job defending the pass. Next we gotta come back and work on some of things we didn't do so well this week, but it was a good game overall. We got the win."

On his personal performance: "For me, as long as we win, the film will tell me the things I need to work on and all that. I just want to get better, but as a defense there's always room for improvement. Guys make mistakes, but that's where you've gotta have your brothers' back and make the play for him or he may have to make the play for you, that happens out there sometimes."

On causing turnovers: "It seemed like we were flying around out there, everybody was running. As long as everybody's running the football the plays will come, the forced fumbles, everything like that. That's what Coach Wilks always harps on: "get to the football, get to the football." That's ingrained in our brains."

On Coach Wilks: "Coach Wilks is a players' coach. He's there to work and he's going to get the best out of you. He wants you to be the best football player that you can possibly be. Once you realize that and take the coaching and grow and learn, he's one of the best coaches I've ever had."

Tight End Greg Olsen

Thoughts on getting back on the field for a game: "It's always nice the first game to get a few reps. Just to get a part of the action a little bit. Just kind of get your feeling back a little bit. I didn't play a lot, but just good to get out there and get back at it a little bit."

Observations from today on some of the new guys on the offense: "I thought they did a good job. Obviously there are always mistakes. There are always those little things. I thought they played hard. I thought our wide receiver group as a whole played really well. I think that you saw a little bit of that dynamic ability that some of those young guys have. There was some speed out there and some guys that were playing fast. We are going to keep cleaning up little stuff. I think for the first game that some of the young guys did a nice job."

RE: His thoughts on the rhythm of the offense
It was nice to see Kelvin get going early. He kind of set the tone there with the first play. A big run after catch; kind of shows our physical presence out there. His first and last plays were probably our best plays of the night. He obviously had a big play there with a big touchdown catch there from D.A. and then on the end of that second drive. It was nice to get our rhythm a little bit and to get some completions. Get out there and get tackled. Catch a ball and get out.  

Photos from the Panthers preseason opener against the Texans.

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