Joint practice not perfect but productive

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. had mixed feelings about sharing the practice field with the team that drafted him in 2007, but he made his feelings about how practice went with the Miami Dolphins crystal clear.

"I believe today was a great day for everybody – for the Miami Dolphins as well as the Carolina Panthers," Ginn said. "We went out and we practiced hard, played hard, and we got a different feel for different situations."

That's a sentiment shared by head coach Ron Rivera, who worked with Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin to set up the practices for Wednesday and Thursday in advance of the teams' preseason game Saturday night at Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers last held joint practices in 2000, when the Detroit Lions visited Wofford.

"I was very happy with a lot of things that went on," Rivera said. "There were some really positive things. Our guys saw different people, saw different things being done against them. I didn't have a chance to watch the defensive side, but I was pleased with a lot of things on the offensive side."

Rivera couldn't be two places at once, and certainly not three, so the film will prove valuable as well.

He wasn't on the third field when the competition boiled over a bit. In physically demanding drills between offensive and defensive linemen, left tackle Michael Oher and Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon got into a short-lived tussle.

"We had the little skirmish where guys were disagreeing a little bit, but that was it," Rivera said. "We tried to stress to our guys that we're here to work. We're not here to fight. We're here to take advantage of the opportunity to get better.

"We both tried to make sure that the players understood that if Coach Philbin says anything to our guys, it's as if I was talking, and if I say anything to the Dolphins guys it's as if he was talking. I really appreciated that approach. I think that helped."

While the intensity spilled over for a second, it helped fuel the practice in a positive way otherwise.

"Coaches always want to create game-like competition in a practice setting. That happened today," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "They've got a good group of guys over there that know how to practice and get better, so today a lot of good work took place."

That's the hope for Thursday as well, when the Panthers wrap up training camp with another joint practice with the Dolphins beginning at 8:30 a.m. Rivera said he expected more of the same with an added focus on situational football. Periods featuring short yardage, goal line work and red zone situations are planned.

"It's good to see our guys get this kind of work," Rivera said. "Last week it was Buffalo and that defense, and now it's Miami and this defensive line. We're going to continue to work and try to take advantage."

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