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Rivera's remarks: Final auditions

Comments from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera.

On if the Panthers have made any more cuts toward the 80-man roster limit: None. It's something (general manager) Marty (Hurney) and I will discuss tonight with the coaches and we'll go through it. Then in the morning, we'll have a few (seven) more we have to make.

On how he will tell players they have been cut: We have a young man that will bring the guys up, and we'll get an opportunity to visit with them, talk with them, listen to them a little bit, and give them a little advice. I went through it (as a player), and it's not easy. For nine seasons, I always felt like people are always on eggshells. Now as a head coach, it is a little bit different because you're the guy that's actually going to talk to them and look them in the eye and say, "Hey, look, this is the way it is." It's difficult, it really is. Some of these young men give you everything they've got, and it's tough when you tell them that you're going to go a different direction.

On what it felt like when he got the news that he had been cut as a player: In the back of your mind when you feel it's that time, you kind of know. Part of you doesn't want to believe it or agree with it. The interesting thing was I asked the coach. Dave Wannstedt was the one that let me go. I asked Dave, "It's not personal?" He said, "No. Ron, this is business." For whatever it was worth, it made me feel a little better, realizing it was all part of the game.

On how much he expects the starters to play in the final preseason game: We're going to discuss that after tomorrow's practice. We got the extra day of practice this week, so what I'd really like to do is see how we come through tomorrow's practice. We'll do some offense against defense, some first bunch against each other, and see what kind of tempo we get out of that and how much we get done. That will help gauge how much we'll play them.

On the importance of the last preseason game for players battling for the final roster spots: It's very important. It really is. It's almost unfair because this really is the only real gauge you have. You don't have the OTAs and the mini-camps to gauge anything. So we've got to try and gauge as much as we can from the practices we've had and the previous preseason games. The problem with that is, unfortunately, the young guys don't get a lot of individual work that you can go back and look at tape and see that stuff. Then you can get a feel for it as you go through this last game. It's going to be real important for them.

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On what he looks for from players in a game like this: The young guys – you're looking for progress. You think about where they were two or three weeks ago and then you try to see where they are now. Consistency in their play. Doing things the right way. That's probably the biggest thing. One thing you don't want to see is a guy consistently lining up and making the wrong decisions. You want to see guys that show they are improving and growing.

On if quarterback Jimmy Clausen will play against the Pittsburgh Steelers: I think so. He had the banged up leg the other day. He got a few reps today and looked pretty good actually, so we expect if Jimmy gets the go ahead to play, then we expect to play him.

On the challenge presented by the Pittsburgh Steelers: It will be a very good challenge. It's a good gauge for our guys. If you can compete with a team of their caliber, their ability, this is a Super Bowl caliber team – you want to be able to come out and match them. If you can do things like that and make a really good showing – and I'm not just saying show up, but I'm talking about going out and playing with these guys – then you've shown progress.

On how much defensive end Charles Johnson has been double-teamed in the preseason: In the preseason he has been a lot. A lot of it, too, is he's our most experienced pass rusher, and that adds to some of the problems in terms of him not getting the numbers that people will expect. But let's not forget he missed a few days of practice, as well. He's starting to come back, you can see it. If you watch some of the things that he's done on tape and you feel pretty good about it. Now, Greg Hardy is going to get a few snaps. I think if you put those two on the field together it may create some situations for us that would be very advantageous as far as our pass rush is concerned.

On if the team has made progress correcting some of its mistakes from the preseason games: I think we have. The thing we have to understand, too, is the personnel is in flux. Offensive line – the personnel has been in flux since (Geoff) Schwartz got hurt and Jeff (Otah) got hurt. We haven't had the complete line out there together. The defensive line is in the same situation. The linebackers – the same situation. We're going through this process of getting guys back. Truthfully to be a consistent team, you've got to have a group of guys that have worked together over a period of time. We've put ourselves behind because of the injuries. Because of that we've got to continue to work and try and develop some sort of cohesiveness and get on par with what we're capable of doing. Go back to how we played in the Giants game. You saw those flashes of what we can do, and we've got to build on those as opposed to the negative things that have happened.

On how encouraging it is that tackle Jeff Otah has practiced for three consecutive days: It's very encouraging. When Jeff had the setback during (training) camp after about the third or fourth day, we were concerned and we sat down and formulated a plan and we've stayed to it. That's the biggest thing that we did was we stuck with the plan. We didn't try to alter it or try to push anybody along. A lot of things were gauged as to how he was coming. He spent a lot of time with (strength and conditioning coach) Joe Kenn, spent a lot of time with (head athletic trainer) Ryan (Vermillion) and his folks and then he tried to spend as much time as he could with (offensive line) Coach (John) Matsko and (assistant offensive line) Coach (Ray) Brown. He tried to be around the offense so his learning curve would not be as steep. He seems to have rebounded very well physically and mentally, he seems to be right on par.

On why guards Duke Robinson and Mackenzy Bernadeau did not practice: Duke had a concussion, and it kind of hit him pretty good yesterday. So obviously with the new protocol, we had to follow that and we actually sent him home for some rest. He got back in today and he's still in the throes of recovering. Mackenzy has the turf toe, so we've kept him off of that as well. We're going through the rehab program with them.

On the status of guard Geoff Schwartz: This is kind of running its course. He took the injection, got the medicine. He's been doing the rehab. But the back, the nerves, that's a tricky thing. He's got to go through it and see how he is. I know he's going to see a specialist on it, and we'll see what happens.

On giving running back DeAngelo Williams the day off from practice: We want to make sure the foot doesn't flare up or anything like that. We want to make sure he's right. He had a good bit of work yesterday. He did a little extra work with his foot in the sandpit, trying to do some strengthening stuff. Ryan felt it would be good for him to get a little bit of a break. It's been good. He's had a really good camp, and we're real excited. In light of the fact that he may only play a few snaps Thursday night, we don't want to risk anything.

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