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Carolina Panthers

Postgame Transcripts: Preseason Week 1 at Washington


Opening Statement:

"Yeah, so just obviously happy to get the win. More importantly for us, a lot of good things that I think we can build off of. Our one offense was 2-2 on their two drives scoring against their one defense, so we got good work against a really good defense. Our kickoff team, I was really pleased with our kickoff team today. I think we tackled them four times inside the 20. You guys might know better. But even the last one got out to the 30, but it's really been a point of emphasis for us after last year and I saw a lot of guys running down on their kicking. Really happy with the kickoff returning. They kept kicking it out of the endzone, and then finally we got one to return. [WR] Shi [Smith] took it out, which led to the game-winning field goal. I thought the special teams were a real bright spot, leading up to that last field goal. And then our defense, we planned on playing them two series. I was hoping to get 12 plays, 15 plays. We went three-and-out, and then like five-and-out, so I wasn't able to get that many plays, but was happy with them. And then you know, some of our young guys, they have some work to do. We'll just continue to work our young players, and we shouldn't let them back in at the end like that. But, Washington's a good football team. We had a chance to go against the McLaurin's, and all those different guys, Carson Wentz, so a lot of good work for our guys. We'll try to build off it."

On QB Baker Mayfield getting the start today and on if he will remain the starting moving forward:

"No, that was just for today. So, we'll go back and look at this tape. Obviously, Sam [Darnold] got us in the endzone. Baker led us down the field, so it looked like both guys played well in terms of production. We'll go back and look and see where they are. That was just for today."

On his observations from Mayfield's drive:

"I thought we moved the ball well down the field. He did a nice job of moving it with his feet, finding the checkdowns, and then we got down there tight in the red zone, we called a play-action, the receiver doesn't run the route so he has to desert the play. Fumbled the snap and ended up not scoring. So, still a lot to build on. But I did think he moved the ball, he controlled a nice long drive to start the game, so it looked some-what clean until the very end."

On his thoughts about QB Sam Darnold on the short drive following the Washington fumble:

"I think overall for the offense, we protected the football. I don't believe we turned it over today. We won the turnover battle. He took a big hit on the touchdown throw, made a great play with pads on his head, he stepped up and made it. After that, both guys, I have to really watch the tape to see exactly what they did. But I thought they were both in command and made the right checks, so I was pleased."

On his thoughts on the defense:

"[SAM] Cory Littleton, I think I've said it, I'm so excited about what he's bringing to our team. He's a guy that could really start on all four special teams. We didn't have him do that today, but he can cover. He almost played nickel, he can play linebacker. Cory's so, so versatile. You know, that's a point of emphasis for us, to get the ball out, so happy to have guys like that. Obviously, today our first-team defense, we didn't have [DE] Marquis Haynes [Sr.], we didn't really have [DE] Brian Burns much more than three or four plays. Didn't have [SAM] Shaq [Thompson], didn't have [CB] Jaycee Horn. You know, we had a lot of guys down, but the other guys stepped up and played well. Cory and [Jeremy] Chinn, and those guys were certainly a part of that."

On his thoughts on DE Amare Barno:

"Barno went down a little bit. I think he had a stinger, lost some strength so he was out for a while then came back in. How he did, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see the tape. We needed more pass rush. I thought [Washington QB Sam] Howell did a nice job coming in for them and moving the ball. We didn't have a ton of pass rush. We practiced the ones and twos a lot, not the threes a bunch, and then they played pretty much a whole half and I think they got a little tired. I think Amare has a really nice future. I think Amare's getting better and better. I love that Brian Burns is pouring into him, and investing in him. I'll have to go back and watch the tape to see exactly because there weren't those big wow plays, but I'm sure he did a lot of nice things we can build off of. For a lot of these guys we had to explain that we take three buses to the game. They're used to just getting on the bus as a team, and they're just not used to this, so this was a great first start."

On injury updates for WR Terrance Marshall Jr., CB Keith Taylor Jr., and TE Ian Thomas:

"So, Terrance Marshall should be back for practice this week. He came out before the game and ran, worked out, D.J. Moore also. D.J. has a sore shoulder, so we limited him and he worked out. He should be good here soon. Keith Taylor, we believe will be ready for New England this week. Between practices, he came out and got a lot of work beforehand. The amount of hits Christian [McCaffrey] takes, we are not hitting him right now. Marquise [Haynes Sr.] just didn't quite feel up. He wanted to go, but I didn't think he was like 95%, 100%, so I held him and worked him out before the game. Ian with the ribs. He's going to catch balls this week. Ian and Colin [Thompson], it's beautiful, they wanted to go support Sully (Stephen Sullivan) at the funeral today. So, we excused them to go down and support their teammate, which is awesome.

On how WR CJ Saunders is doing:

"I think he is still probably two or three weeks out."

On if the plan coming in was to play QB Matt Corral the entire fourth quarter and how they will balance his playing time going forward:

"I can't talk about what we'll do moving forward. We wanted to give him a quarter. We wanted to get him in there. Things weren't real easy, we didn't do a great job and Washington in the fourth quarter kind of changed what they were doing. They had played a lot of single linebacker blitzes and bringing zero blitzes and blitzing the house. So, a lot more for a young quarterback to have to deal with. You know, he moved us down there and got us in field goal range by whatever means it took. He got hit in the face and got 15, but he did get us down there. So, we'll build off it and I'm sure the game will continue to slow down. As far as what our plan is going forward, we will talk about that later."

On the performance of QB P.J. Walker:

"I can't say necessarily that there were things that I was looking at coming into the game. I thought the big completion to Derek Wright down the middle of the field, I mean anytime you can execute. It's one thing to run around, scramble around and make some plays, that doesn't always necessarily translate to the season. A lot of young quarterbacks will do that. I thought for him to make the plays from the pocket that he made, the deep ball to Derek Wright. I think he hit the crossing route to Gio [Giovanni Ricci]. So, those are in-rhythm plays. PJ has had very limited reps. He's had a really good camp. Ben [McAdoo] has been highly impressed with some of the things he's done. So, I think early on he got out there like, if we have a fourth-and-one, he can just probably run it and we'll kick a field goal at the end of the half, trying to do too much. All the young players, they want to try to make the team on one play. So, kind of settled P.J. down, but took us down the field twice and got us into the endzone once. It was a good start for him."

On if he thinks Matt Corral's limited reps coming in translated to his performance:

"I think obviously with every guy, the more reps they get the better they're going to play. But everyone is in the situation they're in, and they're all in this league for a reason. Part of this league is whatever you're given, you have to go produce when it comes. So, they're going to get what they get, each guy is going to get what they get. It's going to change at different times. As we go through the pre-season, the starters sometimes they'll play, sometimes they won't. Every guy is going to get what they can get. I always believe highly in what our players can do and I'm sure for a lot of these guys the only thing that can simulate the game speed of today is getting into the game. So, I'm sure you'll see a lot of our young players on defense and offense. I think next week you'll see them probably play a little faster, a little more confident when they play New England, especially after that joint practice."

On what impressed him today:

"I think the special teams really impressed me. I thought Spencer Brown, I've been talking about Spencer. I thought Spencer came in and looked good. We obviously made a commitment that we were going to come in and throw the ball and see what the quarterbacks can do. I thought Derrick Wright was kind of always in the right place at the right time. [Rashard] Higgins, he's a veteran player, but he made a lot of plays when we needed him to. So, I thought those guys looked good. Couldn't really comment on the line play until I kind of watch the tape, so we will have to see where those guys are. On defense, I thought we had good team defense. I just think we got tired in the second half, not to our standard. We shouldn't let the game get to that point. A lot of things were clean and a lot of things need to be cleaned up, but a couple of those young guys stood out the most."


On his initial impressions of his performance:

"Some good, some bad. Proud of the group, converting a few third downs and driving the ball down the field. Obviously, we've got to clean up the center and QB exchange, that's 100% my fault. We had an opportunity to go down there and score a touchdown, obviously getting a field goal, points are always good on the opening drive. But yeah, it's just the frustration of not ending up in the end zone."

On being able to get a rhythm going in that drive and finishing with points:

"Yeah, I mean anytime on the opening drive you have a few third down conversions, obviously all your guys are locked into the game plan knowing what's going to be called on those first couple of third downs. That's the good part about being able to convert. But like I said, we just want to end up in the end zone." 

On if he got any added confidence in getting the start:

"No, it was just my turn to start. Obviously, we got pretty much the same playing time, so I'm just taking it one day at a time. That mentality hasn't changed for me. So, we'll look back at the film, be critical of ourselves and try to get better." 

On how the flow of the offense at the practice on Wednesday compared to this first preseason game:

"Night and day different, that's for sure. A lot more comfortable now. [Offensive coordinator] Coach [Ben] McAdoo is going to give us the keys to change things on the field, and his saying is, if he can't trust us, he can't trust himself. So, we're a lot more comfortable now. I think that kind of permeates throughout our whole offense. Obviously [QB] Sam [Darnold] has got great command of the offense as well, so we just have to be the leaders who continue to try and improve."

On what he likes from the tight end group:

"Yeah, obviously we're a little banged up right now. But we've got a bunch of talented guys, big bodied guys that are making a lot of plays, contested catches for us and so we've just got to keep working them in and just trying to figure out what our identity for offense is going to be and keep working them in as we go."

On how different the playbook is from the practices to the game:

"Yeah, I mean the practices and games are a little different just because in the game, you get your game plan, you can study it, you can know that back and forth. You should be able to go out there and execute and do your job. Obviously, you're not going to know what their defense is doing every play, but just being able to prepare and nail that game plan down is great. Whereas, sometimes in practice you get into a 'call it' period where you don't know what play is coming up or you haven't really talked about it. So, this was a good one for us to be able to treat it like a real game week and prepare and go through it."

On how Ben McAdoo's offense compares to other systems he's been in before:

"Not really like anything I've been in before. It's a great offense, it allows us to make checks at the line and just have answers for whatever the defense is throwing at us. It's a lot to learn at first, but once you get it down and you start to master it, you can get the offense in a great position to have success. That's the benefit of having a complicated offense like this.

On if Coach Rhule has told him anything regarding when he will name his starting QB:

"No. I think our mentality is best suited to just put our heads down and go to work and just try to improve each day. The best man is going to win, but we're also trying to make this team better and I think that's the biggest part about it. Our QB room has handled it extremely well, and we're going to continue to do that, to just show leadership. It's all about winning and that QB room is about that too."


On second drive after touchdown:

"Yeah, it was nice, you know, obviously we got a short fill on that first drive thanks to the defense turnover, but it was good to get back out there. Obviously, it wasn't exactly what we wanted on the second drive, to go three and out like that, but it was good. It was good to get back out there."

On his touchdown throw:

"Yeah, you know, I thought it was a great job by [WR Rashard Higgins] just kinda feeling his way around there. That's kind of what he needs to do on that play, just kinda get lost and then he also did a good job of getting back in my vision there, and then just try to put enough air under it where he could beat the corner and catch it. Yeah, I didn't really get to see the catch, but yea it was a great play by him."

On playing limited series:

"I think for right now it's just good to get back out there, you know, during the preseason. Obviously, we've been working super hard throughout training camp and to be able to actually get in there and, you know, to get hit a couple times too. Obviously, it's not ideal, but it's good to kind of shake those cobwebs off because you obviously don't get hit during practice. So, it was good to get back out there, you know, get hit a couple times and kind of feel that, that pressure of a real game."

On his role after his series is over:

"I think it's just supporting my teammates. When special teams is out there cheering them on and they are out there doing the same thing when the offense is in, you know, staying glued in. I got an earpiece on the sideline and just staying glued into the calls and kind of looking at the defense to see what I would do in those situations."

On his grasp on the new playbook:

"I think I got a really good grasp on the playbook. Especially coming from OTAs to training camp to now, I feel like I've gradually improved. But just for me personally, I just got to keep staying at the book and staying glued into what we're doing, especially now that we're playing preseason games. And not necessarily game planning for preseason games but understanding kind of what defense we're going against and seeing what [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Ben] McAdoo likes to call versus certain defenses it's good to kind of get that feel."

On if the playbook exposed weaker attributes of his:

"Not necessarily. I think for me personally, it's really about 'cause a lot of playbooks in the NFL are very similar in terms of scheme. Obviously, there's different ways that play callers call plays and different ways that plays can come in and different adjustments that you can make. But, for the most part, most plays are very similar, you know, everyone just calls different concepts, different names and what not. So, you know, I think it was just about getting a feel for the offense and for the scheme and being able to just learn it and get my feet right. I think that was the biggest thing and biggest adjustment for me coming into this offense was changing my footwork and I think it's been really smooth so far." 

On being in a QB competition:

"I think we got to look at the tape you know. For me personally I think it's just understanding you know doing everything that I can with every play that I have and that's really all I focus on when I'm out there playing. I just focus one play at a time and that's how I got to take it at this point."


On what he will takeaway from his first NFL game:

"We just had to have better communication. Regardless of who's out there, we always say we want to play completely clear and concise with complete communication. We were all over the place out there."

On how he can correct the communication issues:

"It's about having clear communication. It's all about making sure everyone knows you're in the right spot. It doesn't matter who's out there, it's my job to get everyone on the same page and execute."

On if it is frustrating:

"No, it's just, you get better. There is tons of stuff to clean up and like I said, this all happens fast. It's a fast game. We're with the best of the best and you have to be on point all the of the time."

On how the experience compares to what he was expecting:

"I knew everything was going to happen fast, and I just gotta trust myself and trust my receivers."

On if instinct takes over when his helmet gets taken off in the middle of a play:

"Yeah, I wasn't just gonna stop and get rocked, so I just wanted to keep on the move."

On what his message to the team was on the last drive of the game:

"Regardless of what happened before that, it doesn't matter. All that matters is what's about to happen. Getting everybody to calm down, being on the same page, taking a deep breath and go execute. Just get to the thirty-seven yard line, maybe more, and let's win the game."

On what it felt like to put the team in a position to win at the end of the game:

"I came up to Zane [Gonzalez] and I promised him that he was gonna get a shot. I just had to get everyone on the same page and make sure that our goal was to score or get inside the thirty-seven-yard line."

On if this experience was what he expected it to be:

"Yeah. You know, times of learning and I got time but just got to get ready as fast as I can."

On what the process of getting ready for a game looks like:

"Talk to Baker [Mayfield]. Be in Baker's back pocket. Everything that I made a mistake on, what would Baker do in this position? Does that match what I would do? If not, what else would you do? Because there's more than one right answer, and it's all about what you do best and how you play."

On how the veteran quarterbacks have been for him:

"They're great, and they all help me. I love being in that room and being able to compete with those guys. We are different but when we step onto the field, it's just fun to compete."

On if it was the plan for him to play in the fourth quarter:

"Yeah, we all knew what our playing time was so we were all ready."


On how he felt getting in a rhythm:

"It felt good, just to get the guy's sort of paced out a little bit. Just to get everybody going, move the ball. That was my goal, to come out and move the ball down the field as much as possible. I thought I did a pretty good job today."

On if he's ever been a part of such a competitive quarterback room:

"Yeah, I have. In Indy [Indianapolis Colts], it was a crowded room in there. But it brings the best out of players, especially me, to stand up to the competition and go out there and play."

View photos of a number of former teammates sharing moments on the field after the Carolina-Washington preseason game.

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