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Monday Brew: Frank Reich looks for his "best week of work" before Miami

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CHARLOTTE – Frank Reich said after Sunday's 42-24 loss at Detroit that the upcoming week of practice before the trip to Miami will be his "best week of work" because that could be part of what turns this 0-5 start around.

After returning home and reviewing the game, Reich outlined what that looks like from his perspective.

"Just in every way," he said. "First and foremost, in their preparation. It takes a little bit more collaborating with the coaches, looking for an edge, looking (at) how can we give the players – and we're always looking for that – but just challenging yourself to find, is there one other play that we can run?"

But it's also about fine-tuning what happens on the practice field. The Panthers will take on the 4-1 Dolphins, with one of the NFL's most high-powered offenses, down in Hard Rock Stadium while they're still figuring out their offense (though it's slowly starting to come together). 

"On the field, (it's) how can we push the guys on the field?" Reich said. "What's the right scheduling thing? We're in practice, what that looks like, and then watching the tape of our practice, are we correcting the mistakes that we see on practice tape so they don't show up again on game tape? 

"Don't leave any detail out. Weeks get very busy. There's a lot of stuff going on. You've just got to make sure you're covering every detail."

Some of those details include mitigating the miscues, like three first-half turnovers that led to 21 Detroit points or six pre-snap penalties that held up drives with more potential.

The Panthers' 24 points were their best offensive output, with rookie quarterback Bryce Young at the helm. (They scored 27 with Andy Dalton starting at Seattle.) And Reich felt optimistic about what they showed on a 342-yard day. 

"Offensively, I felt like we moved the ball," Reich said. "You take away the three turnovers. The thing that was most frustrating was the six pre-snap penalties. Right? So that's what we're saying: Those things have to stop. Too many positive things – but these things that are pulling us back are really hurting us." 

But Reich said he isn't feeling like he's in a rut of negativity despite the slow start. When asked if he was fighting against a "here we go again" feeling with each turnover, Reich said that wasn't the case.

"I don't find myself fighting it; I don't feel that," Reich said. "I know sometimes people say that. I just don't think like that. I never really have. We all have weaknesses, and I have my struggles – mental struggles – in other ways. But that's just not ever been one of my mental struggles."

– Reich said he and owner David Tepper continue to have an open dialogue and speak multiple times each week, and that Tepper's ownership philosophy is to "engage and listen" instead of stepping back from the football operation. 

Reich said those conversations make him better, even if they aren't "fun meetings." 

"He's super competitive," Reich said of Tepper. "He wants to bring a winner to the Carolinas. He wants it now, pushes me, and pushes us to that end. He wants to do whatever it takes to turn over every stone, churn it as much as he has to, to produce winning football. So, I appreciate those conversations. They're always very challenging. He's a super competitive person, and he's not going to sit idly by." 

Reich said they're all wanting to build this team to be sustainable in the long term while also successful now, and he has collaborated with Tepper to help bring both of those goals to fruition.

"I think he has the right mentality of the win now, but also this is going to be a longer-term thing as well," Reich said. "He wants both. That's what we all want. We want to build a winner now. And we want something that can be sustained.

"We want to build it on the right foundation. … He's got a lot of money, so we could throw a bunch of money at this guy, that guy, and that ends up blowing up in your face. We can all give examples of teams that (happened) with. We're trying to build it on good principles, build through the draft, re-sign your own players when you can – it doesn't always make sense, but when you can. So I think, obviously, he has a great perspective on that."

Chandler Zavala injury

– Reich said rookie guard Chandler Zavala, who sustained a neck injury against the Lions that saw him down on the field for about seven minutes before he was strapped to a backboard, carted out of Ford Field, and transported to a Detroit hospital, made it back to Charlotte on the team plane Sunday evening and is in "good spirits." 

He didn't have an estimate on when Zavala could return from what Reich called a "really bad stinger," though the early returns have been positive and encouraging.

"There's no two (stingers) that are the same," Reich said. "Then you don't know how they're going to respond to them. Sometimes, guys respond really quickly. And it's like, boom, they're playing the next week. Other times, it's a couple of weeks. You just can't tell. So that's why we'll take it day by day."

– Wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. didn't record a snap at Detroit even though he was active, as rookie Jonathan Mingo's return from concussion protocol drastically diminished Marshall's on-field time. 

He had tallied a team-high nine receptions the week before against Minnesota, and Reich said he took ownership of Marshall's absence.

"He should have played; he should have played more," Reich said. "I wish he had gotten in there a little bit more. That's my fault. I need to make sure – after the week he had before, with the nine catches and got a little momentum going – and he and I had a conversation. 

"So that was poor, poor communication by me. I wanted to make sure our guys knew to make sure he had some playing time and that there would be opportunities. So that was my fault."

View all the action from the Panthers' game against the Detroit Lions in Week 5.

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