Comments from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera.
On cornerback Captain Munnerlyn: It's good to have him on the field. He plays physical. I know people tag him as a small corner, but he's a small guy that plays big. If he continues to play like that, he can be very effective for what we want. He brings a presence for us as far as our nickel, playing the nickel position as well.
On if cornerback is a question mark for the Panthers: I agree. We have a question mark there. Chris (Gamble) has played himself back into shape; he's getting there and he's a guy that we count on to be out on the field and do some things for us. Captain right now is assuming the role as one of the starters, one of the potential starters, and also a guy that could fit for us in the nickel situation. Then we've got a group of young guys that are all fighting for playing time. It is a question for us, and, hopefully, we can get some of those questions answered this weekend.
On the competition for the second starting wide receiver: I think it's shaking out very well. We've had a couple of guys that have really excelled and have done some really nice things. Brandon LaFell has taken some big steps, and Legedu Naanee is everything we thought he would be for us. I feel really good about those guys. The truth of the matter is in this offense, the way things happen, you're going to use more than two guys. So I'm not as worried about it or as concerned, mostly because of what Brandon has done and the fact that we have Legedu, who knows this system and knows how to run it. So I feel very confident about it.
On what wide receiver Brandon LaFell is doing that he wasn't doing earlier in camp: A big part of it is he's gotten it. He understands the concepts and now he's starting to excel. I think early on when you don't understand the concepts and you don't know what you're doing, there is a tendency to not look as good as you had in the past. That was probably the thing. I think he got it; he understood exactly what we're trying to accomplish and is doing the things that we expect him to do.
On why he hired wide receivers coach Fred Graves: Fred had been part of this system. He understands this system. So bringing in a guy like that is really important. If you look at the guys that are here, they've all coached in this style of offense before. (Tight ends coach) Pete Hoener has been in this system as has (quarterbacks coach) Mike Shula. (Offensive line coach) John Matsko has been in this system. (Offensive consultant) Ricky Proehl played in this system. (Running backs coach) John Settle played in this type of system. We have guys that are familiar with this offense as opposed to bringing guys in that had to come in and learn a completely different style offense with different types of concepts. They came in, and a lot of it was natural for them, so they were able to transition easily as coaches to learning what we do and how we do it.
On Graves' prior relationship with wide receiver Steve Smith in college: He coached him at Utah. Fred has had a number of good receivers and good receiving groups, especially with the Tennessee Titans. He had a receiver (Justin Gage) that I had been very familiar with that played with us in Chicago, and he spoke very highly of him. I think Fred's credentials speak for themselves.
On how Thomas Davis has practiced coming off his first game in 21 months: I think if you compare what happened with Thomas early on, you can see him start to get more comfortable. He was rusty. What he's done, he's knocked it off. The biggest thing you see with Thomas is the more and more comfort he gets within the system, you can see him start to just let it go and play. I think that's the biggest thing - just being comfortable.
On what the offense needs to do against Cincinnati to play more cohesively: The biggest thing is just be consistent more so than anything else. The one thing we have to do as a group is we've all got to do our assignments at the same time as opposed to one or two guys each rep or each snap missing an assignment. If we can all do those things together, we can be, I think, very consistent.
On the status of tackle Geoff Schwartz, who has an injured hip: We're still waiting. He got the injection less than a week ago, and we're waiting for that to help settle it down and then we're going to go from there. We're really in a waiting pattern to see how he reacts to the medicine.
On the status of linebacker Jon Beason, who has an injured Achilles: When he's ready to go and cleared, we'll have him on the field.