PANTHERS HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
Matt, we saw PJ (Walker) running around making some plays. Are those the things you want to see him do more of or less in terms of outside of the pocket and that kind of thing?
"Um, you know, they were playing a lot of like two-man, had a lot of guys in cover, so we said to him early, 'Hey, you can hurt them and affect them with your feet,' so, I just think it was kind of the way they were playing us. I was upset with him before the red zone where we kicked the field goal. He probably could have run it in or at least got the first down and then I made that point to him then. So then I think after that, he was a little more cognizant. The one right before the two-minute, at the end of the half, that was just a communication thing, you know, we were calling one thing and he heard another through the headset, so he had a call on that play. He called the wrong play and ran around and found a way to make a play."
"The touchdown, yeah."
What was called?
"It was right before the two-minute warning, so we were just going to try to get them to jump offsides, take it to the two-minute, go to the end of the half. But the first time with headsets in a big stadium like that, crowd noise, as you could see, I was obviously disappointed with the crowd noise at the end of the game, but all things we have to work on, in terms of silent cadences, being on the road, etc. I thought for the most part, you know, he hung in there and made some plays from the pocket, probably just will have to be cleaner when he is in there."
It seemed like Will (Grier) was handing it off more than PJ (Walker). Was that the plan going in?
"Well, I think part of it was that we had the lead and were trying to win the game, we were trying to put the game away. We were up by five and we were up by eight, so it was just a function of that. Then we lost some o-linemen in the middle of the game. Two things that I'll mention that I want to say: Sam Tecklenburg, you know, played the whole game for us at center and Aaron Monteiro just went over and played guard for the first time, hasn't played guard before, literally went in the middle of the game, so I think a full function of guys being down and then, you know, us really wanting to, at the end of the day, really wanting to work on the run game.
Did you like what you saw from Will (Grier)?
"Yeah, I thought Will played well. I thought Will, as you said, didn't quite have as many opportunities, but we know there's three preseason games, so we'll figure out as we go moving forward. I thought he was clean. At the end of the day, we didn't turn the ball over 'til that last play, but, you know, we laid two balls on the ground, two guys caught balls and got the ball punched out, and we had a ton of penalties. Things that are not winning football have to get corrected."
Coach, talk a little about those three back-to-back-to-back false starts and what your message was to the guys when they came to the sideline?
"Not much message right then, it's just them having to deal with the crowd noise. At the end of the day, you know, yelling at the guys in the middle of the game is not really going to help them, right? It's more getting to the locker room after the game heading into this week. We were upset at halftime about the amount of false starts in the first half and the amount of penalties, we had seven penalties in the first half. So, you can make excuses, I don't like to make excuses and I won't let others make them for me, so we jumped offsides. So, that was really the message of the day for us, was, 'Hey, we beat ourselves,' you know. On defense, in the second half we had a lot of mistakes. Guys got a chance to go in the game — some guys got into the game in different positions. It was a struggle to, you know, really, really keep Sam from running around the way that he did really well."
How encouraging was the pressure that you were able to get in the first half from your reserves?
"Yeah, I thought with them being our defensive line for them to get that much pressure on the quarterback was obviously — you know, we look at Marquis Haynes. We knew what Marquis could do, so I thought early on, those guys for the first 20 snaps really played well so, those are good things. But, today was about making sure that everyone had a chance to play. I think everyone that was up, got in the game, so we wanted to make sure we had really good evaluation on them."
Matt, your next game, would Will (Grier) work more with the second team and PJ (Walker) third or are you kind of working through that?
"Yeah, we'll come out of this game and then figure a bunch of stuff out. First thing is the injury report and find out where we are with everybody and the quarterbacks. You know, we'll watch this tape. At the end of the day, if you threw the ball five times, you threw the ball 20 times, what'd you do on those plays? We'll go back and watch that tape and go into next week."
What did you think of that first group of receivers: (Terrace) Marshall Jr. and also (David) Moore and Shi Smith?
"I thought David Moore did some nice things. You know, Shi had that one catch, which was a really nice play. Terrace, obviously, you know, we needed him to put that ball away on the one long one that he made on that PJ (Walker) scramble. It's hard to say until I watch the tape, but it looked like we did some good things at times."
Any update on the injuries with Troy Pride Jr. or anything like that?
"Nothing, I don't have anything yet. I literally walked into the locker room and then came right here, so we'll see, but hope is that Troy is OK."
Did you get everything that you wanted out of this weekend?
"I mean, I guess. We came out here and evaluated, we just didn't win. I don't care if it's a preseason game, I don't care if it's a scrimmage, we want to win everything that we do. For us to have a lead late in the game and not put the game away is not what we want. As I said to our team, the twos and threes aren't playing today, the Carolina Panthers are playing today. We had a chance to hopefully learn from this and grow and become a better team. I got that, we got a lesson from it, but we didn't get the win, which we came for."
PANTHERS QUARTERBACK PJ WALKER
Was it kind of like old times today running around making plays in this building?
"Yeah, but I would say no as well. I feel like I didn't play my best football when I was in Indy to be honest. I was always thinking a lot when I was here and to be able to go out there and having the freedom to play free, felt good today. Just went out there and did what I had to do and make plays. Should have used my legs a little more, gave up on a couple opportunities where I could've used my legs and got first downs or even run in for a touchdown so for me it's just to go out there and grow as a player."
What did you see on that one play where it looked like you had a lot of green space?
"Yeah, that's the one I threw to Terrace (Marshall Jr.). I knew the lane was going to be there. Didn't get the first down. It was like third-and-four or five, I should've ran the ball to be honest, I probably would've scored. For me, I'm going to go back and watch the tape and I know I've got to stop always looking to throw the ball when I can break the pocket, that's my bad habit that I have right now on myself. So, for me it's just to go back and watch the tape and when I break the line of scrimmage if it's clearly there, just go ahead and take off and run."
Without seeing the tape and outside from that throw, are there any others that you wish you could have back?
"Probably the corner route to (Brandon) Zylstra in two-minute. I had two opportunities with Zylstra. I wish he would've taken it high on when I scrambled out and threw it because nobody was in the back of him, so I wish he would've taken the high end and not ran to the sideline. But there are two minutes and him being a smart football player he ran to the sideline knowing that's what we needed to get to. I just have to make the throws, especially on the bench route. I knew the corner was sitting very deep and I just wanted to get it over top of him and give him the angle to not be able to get to the football."
You said you were getting into some strides with your throwing on the run, how do you feel like you did not get a game situation?
"Once the game gets going, my body is completely numb to every situation, and I just go out there and play. I think me playing in a football game is a lot different than practice because, I just feel like I'm more loose on game days and my body just feels more loose and I'm able to just throw the ball however I want to during game time."
Can you take us to the touchdown? It sounded like Matt Rhule was saying you guys weren't even supposed to snap the ball.
"No, he wasn't supposed to snap the ball. We have a call in two-minute that they're supposed to have the call and I heard a whole bunch of different things in my headset and I heard him on the sideline yelling and as he's yelling I'm like, 'Alright.' I'm thinking he didn't think Shi (Smith) caught the ball on the sideline and so I just got up there and just ran a play and made me work from there."
What's changed for you that's allowing you to play with more freedom now?
"Just being able to have fun to be honest. I feel like when I was here, I didn't have as much fun playing football – I was always thinking. I'm not thinking as much anymore. I'm just going out there and playing and trusting my teammates. Just go out there and trying to get the ball into the playmaker's hands. That's something that I lacked doing when I played here and now that I'm here, I have the opportunity to find guys and put the ball in their hands."
When you threw that ball that ended up the touchdown did you think it was going to be Tommy Tremble or Omar Bayless?
"Supposed to be Omar (Bayless)."
Was that a little surprise?
"I was, but then Coach (Matt) Rhule and Sean (Ryan) always say, don't throw the ball back across your body and me today just going out there trying to make a play, it worked. But I think Omar's (Bayless) guy ended up stop covering and once he broke it, I saw Omar and the second person I saw was Tommy (Tremble) just running full speed across the field and he was the one that happened to get hit in the chest with the ball."
What did you think about Terrace Marshall Jr. and how he played?
"I think Terrace did great. He made some good decisions on plays. I wish he would've scored on the scramble play, but we'll talk about that another time. I'll talk about that another time with him, but other than that, I thought he played great. He was physical out there. He made some good catches across the middle. Caught a nice over route for us today. Overall, I thought he played well."
"No, he's doing it, we just have to find ways to put the balls into his hands."
PANTHERS QUARTERBACK WILL GRIER
How do you think today went for you?
"Great. It went great. (We) fought, tried to win the game, but they did a good job of keeping it away from me there at the end. I thought I played well, made good decisions."
It didn't seem like you had a ton of chances to drop back and throw it. Was that tough on a personal level?
"I mean those things aren't up to me. I'm running the play they call in. Like I said, I think I did a good job executing the play that was called. I think they did a good job at the end of the game with a long drive, and they kicked a field goal and didn't leave any time. So yeah, sometimes that's the way the game works out, but again, I'm a team guy. I want the team to win. Like I said, I run what's called."
How much has Matt Rhule assured you that you'll get your opportunity to have some more chances in the preseason?
"Yeah, he just says that I will and to take advantage of every opportunity. I don't know how much or how little he has assured me. He just has said that I will have my opportunity and he believes in me. And like I said, my job is not to worry about what the opportunity is or when it is, just take advantage of it."
What was your best throw and what was one throw you might want back?
"I threw a back-shoulder ball in the red zone I really liked. Me and him hadn't I guess worked on that enough, because his eyes didn't get around quick enough, but I liked that placement of the ball. There's not really one that I necessarily want back. The deep dagger – I think I moved up in the pocket too much and had to have a higher release throwing over somebody. If I would have stayed back and kind of trusted the protection there, I probably could have followed through and brought that ball down a little bit on that long third down after we had 18 offsides penalties (laughs)."
PANTHERS DEFENSIVE END MARQUIS HAYNES
You guys had a lot of pressures today. What was working for the defensive front early?
"All we talked about was making sure we that we improve from last year. I know we were short on sacks. This year we're just working on more like throwing our fast ball, making sure we give it everything we got just to get to the quarterback, and I just feel like a lot of that helped out today."
How much emphasis is there on punching the ball out on gameday? Do you guys talk about it breaking the huddle?
"There's a lot of emphasis going towards punching the ball out. We're trying to get more turnovers this year. If we get a turnover and get the ball back to the offense and the offense goes down and scores, I mean – once we start punching it out more and get more turnovers, it's going to be a fun season."
When we talk about the Panther edge rushers, you often don't get mentioned, but you had a pretty nice season last year and a good day today. What do you think is next for you and your career?
"I'm just going to keep on doing what I do every day – just go out there and be a hard-working person. I don't care that I'm not getting mentioned. I'm just going to keep on doing what I do best, and that's work, grind."
What do you think you bring to the table?
"I think I bring the energy. Everybody's looking for energy. I'm always cheering everybody else on. Like today, if the starters were out there, I'm cheering them on to go out there and get a sack, because once they get that sack, that's going to fuel the whole defense. So, even if I'm not out there, I'm cheering someone on."
PANTHERS WIDE RECEIVER TERRACE MARSHALL JR.
Was this game kind of an extension of training camp for you?
"Yeah, a little bit. We're still in camp mode right now. It was a great experience for me, first game, getting my feet wet, so looking forward to playing in more games."
Have they already been getting on you for not scoring?
"A little bit (laughs), but for the most part there's been a number of good things said so far."
What worked well for you today and where will you look to make adjustments through the rest of training camp?
"We're just going to keep grinding each and every day and just take everything one day at a time, just keep building off everything we have to learn from today."
Were there areas where you felt comfortable today?
"I felt comfortable for the most part in the game. We're playing football, so I'm definitely in my element. So, I'm just going to build off today, the experience that I've got so far and just try to keep climbing."
What did you think of the speed of the game? Was it the same as college or little faster?
"It felt like the same. Coming out of the SEC, it's the closest thing to the NFL, so I pretty much think it got me prepared for this level. So, I'm just looking forward to learning more things about the NFL as I go along."
View photos from Indianapolis as the Panthers take on the Colts in the first preseason game.