CHARLOTTE – On Tuesday, a clearly frustrated head coach Ron Rivera addressed the speculation surrounding cornerback Josh Norman, wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and a bat that made an appearance prior to Sunday's game at New York.
"I'm a little disappointed in it, to be quite honest," Rivera said. "A lot of it has been assumptions and innuendos. Odell hasn't released a statement, their organization hasn't released a statement. But I keep hearing all these things that everybody is saying everybody else is saying. That disappoints me. If there is something out there that is factual, if there is truth, if there is hard evidence, please present it to us so we can react accordingly."
A lack of facts hasn't stopped this story from taking on a life of its own.
"I thought Ryan Kalil said it best and he's been in the league nine years," Rivera said. "The NFL is a soap opera. We are always looking for the next story."
Rivera said practice squad safety Marcus Ball, seen holding a bat during pregame warmups, was in New York with other practice squad players as a reward for their hard work.
"The bat is a huge misunderstanding," Rivera said. "A lot more was made out of the bat than needed to be made."
The bat was a symbolic prop used by the defensive backs for weeks to mean hitting a home run or bringing the wood. Rivera said the bat will no longer be used as a motivational tool.
"To avoid the situation and set of circumstances, let's just eliminate it," he said.
As for his players being accused of directing homophobic slurs at Beckham, Rivera said: "We don't tolerate that here, we don't. Marcus has given me no reason not to believe what he told me. He said he said nothing. I heard nothing. Several people around him heard nothing to be construed as something homophobic. I've seen some of the clips, but in all honesty, those clips are benign.
"Give me some concrete evidence so I can sit down and get this taken care of. If not, let's move on."
View the top photos by photographer Kent Smith from Carolina's game against New York.