Comments from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera and General Manager Marty Hurney after the team reported to training camp.
On how many of the team's draft choices have signed: I think for the most part we are down to the last two. I think that Cam (Newton) is almost done. I know that (general manager) Marty (Hurney) and (director of team administration) Rob (Rogers) have been working real hard on that. We're waiting on (Terrell) McClain's folks to get back to us. But for the most part, I think all of the draft picks are done, and those that are done are here, so we're pretty excited about that.
On if he expects quarterback Cam Newton to be signed by the team's first practice Saturday night: Very much so. I expect him to be here. We've got meetings coming up pretty soon. He's in Charlotte. Hopefully, they're right in the middle of the process of getting that (contract) done, and he'll be here in time for the evening installation. So I'm looking forward to seeing him.
On if the new rookie wage scale has made negotiations with draft picks easier: I think it is but I'll let Marty address that as far as the wage scale is concerned when it comes to the free agents to the draft picks and our own guys.
On if he is all moved in at Wofford: Yes, we are. I'm pretty excited about it. I think it's a heck of a facility. I had an opportunity to walk around a little bit today, visit with some of the players and talk to them about what the facility has meant to them the last couple of years. It looks like it's more than adequate. I think it's very good and I'm pretty excited about tomorrow.
On his first training camp as a head coach: I'm nervous. To be honest with you, I am. This is my first opportunity. I want to make sure we get it right and get it done in the right way and do things the way they are supposed to be done. Tomorrow is going to be a dry run for us. It will be the first time we'll get together as an entire organization on the football field. So we're going to bump around a little bit, try to get things figured out. But I look forward to it. I think it's a heck of a challenge; I think this team is a heck of a challenge. I'm pretty excited about it and I do look forward to the opportunity.
On what the first few days of practice will be like: We're trying to follow the rules. We're going to have to do the type of practice we're supposed to in terms of specific rules. Just helmeted practices the first four. Then once we get past that, then we'll be in pads for the most part. We're going to try to stay out of the heat, so we'll have walk-throughs in the morning and then in the late afternoon, early evening is when we'll do our padded practices. You are allowed four hours on the field. We'll probably take an hour walk-through in the morning and about a two-hour-and-forty-minute practice on the field. That way it gives us 20 minutes if any players or coaches need to do anything extra at the end, we'll give them opportunity to get together.
On if the first padded practice will be Monday night: Yes, we'll be allowed to be in pads (Monday) night.
On if the coaching staff is at a disadvantage because it is yet to have an opportunity to work with the team: Yes. But that's the way it is. There is nothing we can do about that, so we will make the best of it and we're not going to use it as an excuse. That's just the facts of the NFL. There are several other teams that are in the same situation we're in, and we will make the best of it. I do not want to use that as an excuse.
On the team's commitment to re-signing its core players like defensive end Charles Johnson and running back Ryan Kalil: I'm excited about the commitment that is being made by this organization, by Mr. Richardson and the work that Marty and his people have put into this, being able to retain our guys. All along the philosophy here, and I know it's a philosophy I share, has been that we want to draft our guys and keep our guys. We want to develop our own players, and I think we signaled to the rest of our players that if you come out and you do the things that you're supposed to and you perform - you'll most certainly be rewarded. And that's what we've done - we've rewarded guys that have been a big part of this team the last few years, and we want them around. The positive is that we're talking about a lot of young guys, guys who are 24, 25 years old, that we'd like to keep around as long as we can. I think that's how you build a team. You build a team through its core of players that you've drafted and have had success.
On acquiring tight end Greg Olsen from the Chicago Bears: I think the big thing is you've got to understand the offense and the type of offense we're going to run. A great example is what they're doing in San Diego under (head) coach (Norv) Turner. I know (offensive coordinator) Rob Chud(zinski) is a disciple of Coach Turner's. We talked yesterday about what it would mean to have the three tight ends that we do have. It's a mulit-faceted offense that will sometimes feature the tight end, movement of the tight end. I think all three guys bring something to the table that can really, truly help us. We've got a group of young guys that can develop at that position. I think the position is now one of our strengths.
On if Newton will compete to be the starting quarterback Week 1: Very much so. All of our quarterbacks are competing for the starting job. We're not giving anything to anybody. I know we spent a lot of money on a lot of guys, but we're going to play the guys that when they're ready to play, they'll play.
On if there are any discussions about signing another quarterback: I'll let Marty address that. But we've tried to make sure that we have competition at every position.
On if he is as ready for this job as he can possibly be: I believe so. I really do. I think the nervousness more than anything is excitement. I think it is a heck of an opportunity, and I'm really thrilled about it. I like our team, I really do. The last couple of days have really signified to me that we've got a pretty decent roster. Now, we've just got develop it. We've got to coach them up and teach them and get these guys ready to play some football.
On if he has gotten much sleep recently: Not a lot. It's been a hectic few days.
On the status of contract negotiations with quarterback Cam Newton: I think we're making progress. We've had numerous conversations over the last couple of days, and I think we're making good progress.
On if negotiations are more straightforward because of the new rookie wage scale: It is, the whole system is. But there are still discussions you have to have. Their (Newton's agents) approach has been terrific, and I think we are making good progress.
On the status of negotiations with rookie defensive tackle Terrell McClain: Probably not as much (progress) right now.
On what is holding up negotiations with McClain: We spoke last night and then actually didn't have another conversation until just awhile ago, so we'll see.
On if the Panthers released kicker J.J. Jansen today: Yes. We also terminated (defensive ends) Tyler Brayton and Hilee Taylor and withdrew the tender offers from (linebacker) Nic Harris, (quarterback) Keith Null and (defensive tackle) Ed Johnson.
On releasing defensive end Tyler Brayton: When you're aggressive, there is a structure in place that you have. We've been extremely aggressive the last few days (signing players) and we have some other players at the position. We have Charles (Johnson), Mario Addison, Everette Brown, Eric Norwood and some young guys. We felt like it was something that if we were going to do, which we probably were, this was the time to do it for Tyler to give him a chance to get out there.
On if the Panthers will sign another defensive end: Maybe numbers-wise, but again, right now we feel good about the group we have.
On how close the team is to reaching the 90-player roster limit: Close. Everything is filling out. We'll just wait and see where we need the spots. I don't think there's any big rush, because any veterans you sign can't participate until August 4. Instead of bringing in more rookie free agents, we'll just wait and see what we need.
On what newly signed veteran players can do prior to August 4: These rules are hard to keep up with, but I think they can be in meetings, they can condition but they just can't participate in practice.
On if rookie cornerback Brandon Hogan, who suffered a knee injury last year, passed his physical: I'll get a full list, and we'll have a lot of guys, but I would say no.
On if the team is considering signing a veteran quarterback: We've discussed that, and it's a possibility. We just haven't done it at this time.
On acquiring tight end Greg Olsen from the Chicago Bears: I think Greg fits this offense perfectly. He's a guy who is a downfield threat and he's a receiver who can block. He fits in to our tight ends very nicely. I think we have a good group. That's probably one of the position groups that we've made the most improvement on. I think all those guys will have roles. In this offense, that's a very critical position. He's a good enough blocker; he's a threat receiving; he's a terrific guy from everybody you talk to; he's just a great person. He's going to add another dimension to us, as will the other tight ends - (Jeremy) Shockey, (Gary) Barnidge and Ben Hartsock, who we signed. We have a good group there.
On wide receiver Cam Newton: We said all along we had to work through the process. He's staying with us and he's always been with us. He's always been a very important player. He's a difference maker. Everybody says when they come in, "I want to begin and finish my career at the same place." I think that's something that's very rare these days. I think that he wants to do that. Certainly when you talk about Steve as a player, he's spoken what he's about since he's been here. He's always been a playmaker for us. He plays with energy and passion. I think that he's excited to come in here and learn this new offense, and we're glad he's here.
On if he is excited to see a healthy Jeff Otah: Yeah. You know what happens is when you wait this long, we're usually used to seeing these guys at the end of April and May, so maybe it's because we've had to wait a couple of more months, but they all look good. Everybody looks great. Everybody is excited.