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Carolina Panthers

Rivera's remarks: Back to work


Comments from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera following the team's training camp practice.

On how the players responded after having 24 hours off: They responded really well. This was probably the toughest day of them all though because of the heat. It really kicked in pretty good. We tried to make sure we watered down and took care of them the best we could. We had a couple of guys (suffer) tweak, so there is a little concern there, but for the most part I thought they came out and did the things that we needed them to do. It was a good tempo for the most part. We had our ups and downs again. We've got a ways to go with that, but they're understanding what we're asking of them of tempo and how hard we need them to practice.

On the importance of having NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at training camp: I think it's important for any franchise in the league. When then the Commissioner does come visit, it's special. It's special for us, because it's an opportunity for our fans to get a chance to visit with him at the forum that they had, a chance for the coaching staff and the players to see the Commissioner. Any time he comes in and he's here, there's a message, and that is we're important. That was a big deal, and that was one of the messages that got across today.

On if cornerback Chris Gamble is close to returning to practice: I think so. He's been working the last couple of days with (strength and conditioning coach) Joe Kenn on the side and has put a little extra time in with our training staff as well. I'm excited to see him when he gets his opportunity to get back on the field for us. But we've got to be smart about those things. He's been a little ill, a little under the weather, and we don't to rush it. At the same time, we don't want to get him out there when he's not physically ready in terms of his hamstrings, lower back, because that would set him back even further.

On linebacker Jon Beason's situation: I know he's been working with (head athletic trainer) Ryan (Vermillion) and with Joe a little bit. We'll see. We'll gauge it again tomorrow when we come out for a walkthrough. Who knows? Tomorrow might be an opportunity. If not, maybe on Friday. As far as I know, they are going to gauge it one more time before they make a decision.

On Beason's injury: My understanding is that he strained it (Achilles). They just want to make sure he's healthy before we put him out there.

On if the team's optimistic attitude is a result of Rivera: With change, things change, and one of the things that is changing is the attitude that we want. We want these guys to understand that we control our destiny more so than anything else. It's not about what other folks are doing. It's about what we do. As I've told them, we've got to coach them up the best we can. We've got to teach them, make sure these guys are learning. At the same, they've got to learn and they've got to develop as football players. So it's a group effort. As we develop, as we do things, as we come closer together as a team, I think the optimism will begin to flow. That's just the way we look at things. We can get better, we will get better, and we will win football games.

On taking precautions to deal with the heat at practice: When we started practice today, it was one of the points that I made with the guys. We took extra water breaks today just to be careful. We had one period where we gave the guys the option if they wanted to go underneath the tent and cool down. But for the most part, a lot of them just took their helmets off and got extra water. We've got to be aware of it and everybody's got to be aware of it, whether we're here on our practice field or if it's a high school team practicing. You've got to be very careful with the heat.

On getting free agents back on the practice field Thursday for the first time: It will be great, because we've had to change some things in practice. Most importantly, we've had to change the number of reps that we can take. Every time you get somebody that tweaks a hamstring or lower back or something like that, that's another guy that's losing reps for you. At the same time, you've got to cut down your reps to be smart, because you can't overload other guys or they'll start to tweak a hamstring. What we've tried to do is be real careful with that and be aware of it. But having these guys come back, we may be able to increase the reps and get back to a full-length practice.

On if he'll continue to have morning walkthroughs and evening practices: Yes sir, and this is the big reason. We're trying to make sure it's cool and we can get the most out of our players as opposed to exposing them to the heat of the day.

On how quarterback Jimmy Clausen is performing with the Panthers drafting quarterback Cam Newton: Jimmy has been outstanding. What we're seeing right now is the development of two young quarterbacks. Both are learning. One thing that I'm really appreciative of is that they're both working together. There is a lot of communication between the two of them, and they're competing. That's all I can ask. I know we brought in another quarterback. We brought in a veteran guy (Derek Anderson) that knows the system, that's going to add some things to what we do as well. As long as these guys are competing and working together, we're in a good situation.

On if there is a timetable for giving one quarterback more of the reps: Truthfully, we can't right now because we're limiting their reps. We've got to see how things unfold, starting when those other guys are back on the field. As soon as we get them back on the field, we'll be able to know what we can and can't do. But we're a long ways from that, because both those guys have to develop as players.


On where Newton and Clausen are in their development: They're definitely in the developmental stage. The thing to understand is that this is a complex offense, but once you understand the concepts of what we do, I think things start to come easy. They're just learning that part of it. It's going to be awhile; it's going to be awhile for us as a team. But at the same time, the one thing I want these guys to understand is how we're going to play. We want them to play fast, we want them to play physical, we want them to play hard and most importantly we want them to play smart. We've got a lot to learn and we've got a ways to go, but we're getting there and we're getting there one step at a time.

On Newton's block on a running play late in Wednesday's practice: That's the one thing that you've got to understand about Cam - he's here to play football and he'll do what he can. He does get caught up in the moment. As a defensive coach, you love it. As an offensive coach, you love it. As a head coach, you get nervous. It was exciting and it was kind of fun, because I think it lets his teammates know that he's going to do whatever it takes to win.

On if and how much they have reviewed tapes of the San Diego Chargers offense: That's what you do. What Chud (offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) has done is he has gotten his teaching tapes and their cut-up tapes, and we have those tapes available to us. He's made cut-ups, and these guys have a chance to watch Philip Rivers and Norv Turner's offense. That's invaluable.

On if newly signed quarterback Derek Anderson has had an impact on the team's young quarterbacks: Not really, because Derek hasn't really had an opportunity. I have seen him talking with those guys, and that's great. But I think it's really coming from Chud and it's coming from (quarterbacks coach) Mike Shula, which is important. Another guy you see talking to those guys is Jeremy Shockey, which is outstanding. He's a consummate pro. On the football field, in the classroom and in the locker room, he's terrific.

On how far behind the offense is after not having organized team activities and offseason mini-camps: Missing the OTA's and missing the mini-camps speaks for itself. When you're in that situation, you go about it with what you've got. We're behind, and that's just the fact of the matter, but everybody else is, too.

On the benefit of having one of the strongest running games and offensive lines in the league: For the most part, it's a veteran group. And that's probably the most important thing - it's a veteran group of guys. They understand and they get it. Hopefully, with our running backs getting healthy, that can help. That can be something that can catapult us in the right direction. You've got to play great defense early on, you've got to be able to run the ball and you've got to play special teams to help your offense develop. If we can do those things and do them well, we'll give ourselves a chance.

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