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Carolina Panthers

Rivera proud of resilient receivers

RIVERA APPLAUDS RESILIENT RECEIVERS: Head coach Ron Rivera stuck by his starting wide receivers when they struggled during the preseason and in Week 1.

And he took great pride in seeing Ted Ginn, Jr. and Philly Brown come down with touchdown catches during Sunday's 24-17 victory over the Houston Texans.

"Something bad may happen – but just watching them rebound and come back just speaks to their resilience and the resilience of this football team," Rivera said.

"I'm not sure what the character of the 2015 team is going to be, but just seeing guys stick with it and come back and make plays – that's big."

Brown's 36-yard touchdown catch in the second half was a perfect example of what he hadn't been doing previously. Instead of letting the ball fall to his chest, Brown reached out and grabbed it before cornerback Johnathan Joseph could make a play.

"That, to me, shows he understands," Rivera said. "During the preseason, he wanted the ball to come to him. He let the ball get into him.

"He went and snatched the ball (on Sunday). He was aggressive to the football, and that's what he has to be. He has to attack the football to be successful."

NORWOOD TRYING TO FIND A RHYTHM: Another wide receiver, Kevin Norwood, played in his first regular season game as a Panther on Sunday.

"We were trying to see if we could get Kevin going and part of the offense," Rivera said.

He was targeted just once, and that throw resulted in an interception at the goal line by Texans safety Rahim Moore. Quarterback Cam Newton's pass was deflected at the line, and the wobbly ball went off Norwood's outstretched hands before finding its way to Moore.

"Should he have caught it? Yeah, he should have," Rivera said. "It's a tough catch. A veteran guy, a guy that really understands and is comfortable with what we are doing – he runs through that and makes the catch. The more comfortable he gets, he'll run through and make that catch."

Rivera liked Norwood's contributions on special teams and believes he's ready to make a bigger impact offensively.

"He has shown everything in practice that we are looking for," Rivera said. "Now, he has to put it all together."

RIVERA ENCOURAGING EALY: Rivera continues to see good things from second-year defensive end Kony Ealy, particularly against the run.

"He's playing the run very well," Rivera said.

But there is some work to be done in pass rush situations, even if he's lining up inside on obvious passing downs.

"You'd like to see him work with a little more hand violence (in pass rush)," Rivera said.

Two penalties during the Texans' final drive overshadowed an otherwise solid day for Ealy against the Texans. A roughing the passer call gave Houston a first down after an incomplete pass on third-and-6. Later, Ealy was offside on third-and-3.

Fortunately for Ealy and the Panthers, the penalties didn't lead to a game-tying score.

"I know he had the two penalties at the end of the game that were a little unsettling," Rivera said. "It's unfortunate, because he played well again."

KUECHLY NEARING RETURN: Rivera said he expects to see linebacker Luke Kuechly, who missed Sunday's game against the Texans with a concussion, participate in non-contact drills during Wednesday's practice.

"Yes, but he still has to go through the protocol because he has not seen the independent (doctor) as of yet," Rivera said. "I'm hoping we get to see him for non-contact on Wednesday."

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