PANTHERS HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
RE: Sam Darnold's performance tonight
I thought some of the plays he made on third down were great. It was good to see him making some plays with his feet. I wasn't happy with the ball that they called an incomplete. That's not what we need. You know, we are in field goal range. I think he needed to get out there and play. I think he moved the ball, moved the ball, moved the ball again. It's just some of those second and one, third and one, fourth and ones, we didn't execute. Some of those we called. We wanted to see, hey, can we put the ball in his hands on fourth and one. We wanted to give him that situation. We wanted to give him the third and 16. I think in a regular season game we would probably check the ball down there and kick field goals. But we wanted to put him in some situations. I think he came out of it. But at the end of the day he took us down at the two minutes at the end of the half and it was a heck of a ball to Robby [Anderson]. Like everyone else, there will be some good, some bad. We will go back and watch the tape. He will grow from it. I thought overall good effort.
Obviously, Ryan [Santoso] literally just flew in yesterday, bought a pair of cleats, came here today and walked around and looked at the field. First time on our turf. First time with a new snapper/holder. So, to go out there and make a 52-yarder to start, that was obviously encouraging. So that's one of the reasons why we made the move to bring him in. See what he can do. We got a good starting picture from him. Obviously, Joey [Slye] unfortunately missed the kick wide right. But did kick the ball off well. So, like all of our players, we are rooting for them all. We will go back and watch the tape. See what happened. Try to keep it consistent with the snappers and the holders with the guys so that we can have a good picture to compare.
RE: The kind of team member Joey Slye is
He is a wonderful person. He has worked really hard. He has made a lot of kicks. He has done a lot of good things. He is just in one of those places right now where he is struggling. When you struggle at a lot of other positions, people don't know it. When you struggle at that position, unfortunately it is magnified. He has been a brother to these guys. He has worked with these guys so they want to see him succeed. It's the power of the locker room. It's the brotherhood you are hoping to try and create. Joey is an unbelievable person. He hasn't shied away from any of this. He is trying to work his way through it. He is out there kicking extra, doing extra. Trying to mechanically get himself to where he wants to be.
RE: Importance of getting the win today
Obviously, we wanted to win. But I think more importantly, how we win. Take the ball away three times. To not turn the ball over. We started the first game off three weeks ago with 10 penalties or 13 penalties, whatever it was. I think we had three tonight. Still nothing is perfect. We have a lot of work to do. But I thought it was relatively clean. Especially with not having Christian [McCaffrey] out there. Its encouraging in terms of some of the things we did. Defensively, it really encouraged. That's a good football team. They played a lot of their offensive linemen, some of their tight ends, some of their receivers so they faced some good players out there. I think our defense is playing fast and hard. Encouraged by a lot of things but also, knowing a lot of things, you can't mask the bad things just because you won the game.
RE: Timetable of kicker decision
I'm not sure of the timetable. That's honest. We brought Ryan [Santoso] knowing we have a couple days until the cuts to make a decision about him. I'll get with Scott probably tomorrow morning and we will see where we are at every position and take the next couple days to try to be thorough.
RE: Decision to play Santoso more than Slye tonight
We went into it with a hey, we are going to let Ryan kickoff and kick the first one. Let Joey, depending on where it was, kick the second one and then let Ryan kick most of the rest of the night. Obviously, we had some field goal attempts and some touchdowns so we had the chance to let the guys kick a lot. I wasn't sure how many we would have. So, we wanted to make sure we at least saw each of the guys kick at least once. Just kind of the way the night played out.
RE: Two-minute scoring drive for Darnold
I think the situational football, the third downs, the red zone, the two-minute, we got all of those things today with the ones. Some things we did well. Some things we didn't do well. I think we executed on that drive. I think it was fourth-and-three we hit DJ [Moore] so we executed the fourth down. We just wanted to put him in all those situations. He has played a lot football. Just trying to get him, when I say him I mean Sam and everyone else, just trying to get them to play within our system and trust the play calls that Joe [Brady] makes. Trust the process we have and just stay within themselves. Guys are going to make mistakes. We are going to try to correct them and try to be a better football team each week.
RE: Darnold's leadership
I want to make sure I say it because some of the coaches asked me. What I want him to do is I don't want him to focus on being a leader. I think his leadership will emerge with his work ethic. I think you are starting to see a guy that has some leadership that emerges. He is not like the guy who is going to get the guys and give a speech. You know, the RA-RA speech guy. He is a guy that is starting to demand accountability from guys. Guys play for him because he doesn't make excuses. I believe in true, true, true leadership. I don't believe in convenient leadership. There are a lot of convenient leaders out there that say the right things at the big moments but they don't live that way and do that. I think that if you live a life of doing the right things then people want to hear what you have to say. I think Sam is emerging and developing in that way. But the most important thing is he will be the first guy in the building and the last one to leave. Work hard. We are lucky because we have three quarterbacks who are like that. So that's the culture in that room which is awesome.
RE: Do you like what you saw from PJ Walker and Will Grier and do you think PJ will stay at the number two position?
Not ready to say that yet, I thought PJ (Walker) was really good when he was in there, made the big throw to Tommy (Tremble), made the big throw on the sideline to David (Moore), made the over route to Shi (Smith). I think he put a lot of balls in guys hands, they didn't necessarily make the play that we would like. But I thought he was good, took us down to score. Then I thought Will was excellent as well. Will made some plays with his feet. I'm really happy to see that from Will. He went out there had a lot of the guys that are twos and threes with him and still found a way to move the team. And at the end of the day, that is what it's about, it's about moving the team. So, as I've said all along I feel really good about these two guys. We have tough decisions obviously to make over the next couple of days. We will start really early tomorrow morning as a staff and as a personnel staff. But just happy for these guys that they went out and played well.
RE: Update on Shi Smith
You know what, I don't. I just saw his father as I was walking in here. I don't know exactly where that is at. It didn't sound like it was here but it sounded like it was significant but we will see what the extent is. I would hate to say something and have it not be right when they go look at it.
PANTHERS QUARTERBACK SAM DARNOLD
RE: Longest game action in Carolina
It was great. There was some good, there was some bad. It was good to get out there and get that feel, game feel. I think all of the starters could attest to how there was some good, there was some bad. We just have to watch the tape and learn from it.
RE: Last two-minute drive
That two-minute drive, that last drive at the end there, it was good. To get down there and score, tt was really good for us. We kind of stalled there a little bit in the first, at the end of the first going into the second quarter. So again, it's just stuff that we have to learn from and we will.
RE: Do you feel ready now after tonight for the regular season?
We have a couple of weeks left. Again, like I said we will just watch the tape, learn from it and then we'll have some practices and we'll be ready to roll.
RE: Touchdown pass to Robby Anderson
It was just a back shoulder throw.
RE: Growing towards DJ Moore
DJ (Moore) is a great receiver, him and Robby (Anderson). They are both, just, they're easy to read, coming out of cuts, so it makes it easier for us as a quarterback.
RE: How have things gotten easier this year versus last year?
I think just for me, its really just learning from last year and understanding when to get the ball out, in a timely manner. I think that's the biggest thing, just finding completions when the defense does a good job of covering guys. Just have to keep learning from that and getting better in that area.
RE: How much of the offense would you say you guys showed tonight?
I don't think I should answer that, but for us, we did a good job of running our base stuff and I think our guys executed it really well.
RE: The play where it was almost a sack-fumble
I think if I look at it and I'm back there and feel like guys are, I'm getting a little bit of pressure, I feel like I just need to throw away because that's an area of the field where if you take a sack you might get out of field goal range. I was looking to dump it off to the running back and if he wasn't there I was just going to throw it at his feet. Pressure got to me, and just tried to get it off in any way I could.
RE: Initial thoughts on Terrace Marshall Jr.
He has been showing it in practice so its good that its translating over in the game but he just has to continue to work hard and learn the system.
WIDE RECEIVER ROBBY ANDERSON
What did you see from Sam Darnold tonight
I think Sam looked comfortable. He looked efficient. Looked pretty good to me.
If it was nice to get a touchdown
Yeah. Get ready for the season. Get used to it.
What did you see tonight in Darnold that you didn't see with the Jets
I can't really compare. I mean if you are comparing it based off offense itself it is really different. You know what I am saying. I just see a more mature player and he seems a lot more comfortable out there.
This was your first time taking the field with the new contract. How did you feel?
No, I didn't really look at it like that. From that perspective. Honestly, I just took that same approach I would take regardless. So, I wouldn't really say from that aspect I really thought of it like that.
What messages did you receive after singing your contract?
You know everybody just congratulating me. Happy for me seeing my hard work continue to pay off and just wishing me well for the most part.
Thoughts on the offense
I think we did what we were supposed to do for the most part. I think we executed, sustained our drives. Always room for improvement, but I think we did pretty good from my perspective.
What do you think needs to get fixed?
I have to see the film to pinpoint that, but think there is always room for improvement.
Thoughts on Terrance Marshall
I think he is coming in to work every day and just trying to learn as much as he can and apply it. Just keep his head down and take it one day at a time.
How excited are you for the regular season?
I'm ready for that. I'm ready for the regular season. Can't lie. Was kind of happy that that game tonight was over with so it could get for real now.
PANTHERS LONG SNAPPER JJ JANSEN
RE: His conversation with kicker Joey Slye on the sideline
What we talked about, we'll keep between ourselves. he's a good friend and he's a really good kicker and the last couple weeks have been not what we all had hoped. We were just chatting as friends and as teammates. It was a good talk.
RE: Thoughts on new kicker Ryan Santoso
He's tall. We just met today so I haven't really had a chance to get to talk with him much other than the particulars of football. He was obviously in New York with Graham [Gano] so I called up Graham and he had nothing but good things to say so that's always a good way to start a relationship with everyone saying you're a good guy.
RE: If he was able to see Santoso's swing and what he brings to the team
Yeah, he was trying to get some timing going. I think that takes weeks and months and years to know each other in and out. So you're trying to rush some of that and do it all in pregame. Most of those conversations are going to be between the kicker and the holder. I'm trying to do my piece and get it on their timing. We tried to do as much of that as we could in pregame. We've done it before in the preseason, it's not an unusual thing. Nothing new there.
RE: If he's ever been around a bigger kicker than Santoso
Probably not a guy as thick as him. Harrison [Butker] was 6-5. So we've had tall kickers, we've had big kickers. Every kicker that's been through here in probably 15 years has had a bunch of muscles.
RE: Helping kicker Joey Slye
Well he's a great kicker and I try to offer words of encouragement and perspective. Our coaches do the same thing. Obviously Chase [Blackburn] played, he's been in a lot of these wars. Having Mike Scifres around the last four or five weeks helps the kickers in particular. Ed [Foley] is there to give encouragement and explain what he sees. Some player perspective, certainly tons of coaching perspective. As far as a player goes, you're trying to make sure you're doing your part and just try to give perspective. There's no advice a long snapper can give to a kicker, but do my job to the best of my ability and really work on timing, rhythm and all those things.
RE: His snapping tonight
I think I took all but one field goal and then Thomas [Fletcher] did all the punts today.
RE: His relationship with long snapper Thomas Fletcher
It's been really good. Thomas is a really good young man. Really good long snapper. He has tons of stories from Alabama so we've loved to pick his brain. Because of his family, he spent a little bit of time in Phoenix, where I'm from. We've had plenty of icebreaker questions and that's led to a really good relationship. We've certainly enjoyed competing against each other here for the last, whatever it's been, three or four months. So it's been great getting to know him, it's been nice having another guy in the building that knows what you're doing, what you're going through.
RE: If Carolina drafting a long snapper got his attention
Someone asked me this a couple of days ago. I think I was probably a little numb the first couple of days, but my offseason preparation started in February. Drafting Thomas did not change anything about the way I prepared for the season or any other season for that matter.
RE: Carolina drafting a long snapper
Having a player drafted at your position, there's only one of us. So you understand that there are a lot of ramifications that come with it so it was just shocking but I understand it's the business, so after a day or two, got back to work and it's been normal since then.
RE: The dynamic of potentially not being on the team
I think we're all on day-to-day contracts. Each day, we have to all come out and compete for our job. I don't think I've given it that much thought to be quite honest. I don't know if I have a better answer for you than that.
RE: If his performance made him think he deserves to be the team's long snapper
It's not my decision to make. I feel really proud of the way I've performed. I feel really good about what I am doing. I feel really good in general. That's not really my decision to make. Hopefully it'll go my way but I'm excited for the season.
RE: Special teams making an impact
Special teams is so random at times, especially a muffed punt, a bad bounce of the ball. You have to play every play like it's coming to you. We only get so many. I think we had - I'm trying to think off the top of my head - six punts and maybe a couple kick returns. So that's eight plays, nine plays, in the game. Obviously kicks, those kind of go without saying. You just never know which ball is going to bounce to you. We've had a couple punts over the last few years that we scored touchdowns and those are game-changing plays. Anytime you can get 50 yards of field position and get the ball – the crowd will go nuts for a 50-yard pass – to get a muffed punt and be down there, the guys are hustling, they're flying around, and then obviously you saw the excitement of the guys. Trying to score, it's a muffed punt so they can't score but they still want to score. Just playing every play like the ball could be coming to them. We talked about having the hat on your head and that means time to make the play. It was cool to see that, we've had a couple of those this preseason. That's been fun. It keeps the energy high.
RE: Plans for the next few days before Tuesday
Same as every other day. I think we'll come back in tomorrow. We'll watch the film. We'll treat it like the day after a game and then we'll start preparing for the Jets. I'll show up and do the same thing we do every single day.
PANTHERS KICKER RYAN SANTOSO
RE: On being traded from the New York Giants to the Carolina Panthers
It's been a journey. It's really fun to go from one city to the next and then play a game. I can't thank the Giants organization enough. Coach (Joe) Judge, T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) for helping me get to this spot. I can't thank the Carolina Panthers enough for giving me a chance. The last 24 hours – it's been a whirlwind but a blessing. An incredible birthday present yesterday. I'm excited to be here, trying to learn my teammates' names.
On his relationship with Giants kicker and former Panthers kicker Graham Gano
Graham is like an older brother to me now. He's one of the most incredible and genuine people that I've ever met. He taught me everything that he could in a short amount of time. Just hanging out with him every single night and watching movies or whatever. So, I am super thankful for Graham for him investing his time and effort into me, because he wants the best for me. If I could give him a hug right now I would.
On wearing #9, the same number that Gano wore with the Panthers
No, I didn't. It was a pretty funny joke when I found out and then I was able to tell him. I was like, "I am going to try to do my best Graham Gano impersonation tonight." It was an honor.
On what Gano told him about the Panthers
He helped me so much. He just gave me a ton of information. It was really cool walking off the practice field yesterday, and he was one of the first guys there to give me a big hug. He had the biggest, happy smile on his face to see me going to a place like this that he knows is really, really good, and they care about the players. Graham is amazing.
On if he was nervous kicking tonight
If you're not nervous, you don't really care. So of course, I was a little bit. But you're just trying to get better every single kick, every single time you go out on the field, and I'm trying to learn my teammates' names right now. I'm just trying to do my job to the best of the ability that I have. I've been blessed with an amazingly strong leg for some weird reason, but I'm going to use it and glorify God in the way that he wants me to. I'm taking it one step at a time, taking it one day at a time.
On if he had to get cleats when he got to Carolina
Yes. I have red, white and blue cleats in my bag. So I was like, "Alright, I need to get some Panthers-colored cleats." They had some for me (in the equipment room).
On his 52-yard field goal
It was a great operation by everyone. Super thankful for the line, J.J. (Jansen), Joe (Charlton). It was just a great operation. I did it to the best of my ability and (was) very fortunate that I got a good kick into the upright. Obviously, going to get better. We'll watch the film, we'll get back to the practice field and we'll sharpen things up.
On having less than 24 hours to work with a new holder and new snapper
It's helpful for me to have confidence in the guys when I knew they had all last season together as well. I trust them. I met them last night for the first time, and I was like, "I'm going to trust you no matter what. Just give me a chance and I'll do the best that I can."
On when he arrived in Charlotte
I think I walked off the practice field at 1 (on Thursday), got a flight at 4:30, got in at 8 and then just ran with it. It's been amazing. Thankful that my wife's here with me. She's been incredible the whole process.
On where he was when he got the news about the trade
We were doing joint practices in New England, so I was walking off the Patriots practice fields and then had to fly out from Boston.
On if he came straight to Bank of America Stadium upon his arrival and what he did
Yes. Just procedural things as soon as I got in. Physical, getting fitted for everything.
On what his conversations with kicker Joey Slye have been like
He was trying to help me as much as possible get adjusted here. Joey's great.
View in-game photos from the Panthers preseason finale against the Steelers.