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Rivera's remarks: Padded practice

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

On making the players work for their day off: The key is we wanted to make sure we had a real good practice. We wanted to keep them focused. The longer they went in the day, they might lose their focus, start thinking about that time off that they're entitled to. So what we wanted to do is make sure we had good work. We got good work from them. I am very pleased with what they're learning in terms of what we expect from them, and that's the best thing.

On the Panthers first two padded practices: Not bad. We've got a long ways to go, but the biggest thing is they're learning and understanding our tempo more so than anything else. If we can get them to play hard, fast, physical and smart, we've got a chance. That's what we're trying to preach right now to these guys about how we want things done, and that was really good as far as that's concerned. But we made some mistakes and some things that need to be corrected. That's the best part about coaching ' you get a chance to correct mistakes.

On how long it will take the players to adjust to carrying their pads again: It's up to each individual. Some guys adjust very quickly. Other guys it takes awhile. But I imagine three or four days. Once they get them on they should be O.K. The big thing we've got to be concerned about though is the guys that are having to watch, how they come out after the next three or four days when they get their chance to get on the field.

On his first impressions of quarterback Cam Newton: Wow. He does some things that really light you up, get you excited, as Jimmy did. Jimmy made some good throws and some good decisions. When you look at what Cam does, his running ability is special, and that's one of the things that he brings to the table as well.

On how quickly Newton gets to the line of scrimmage: Yes he does. He's a big, athletic person that does some good things and is most certainly a weapon for us.

On the competition at all positions throughout the team: I do, I really do. I love how competitive it was today. We had a little bit of a tussle, and the nice thing was it was two guys (running back Mike Goodson and safety Michael Greco) who were competing. They were just trying to establish themselves. I was really pleased with it. The nice thing about the tussle was that it wasn't a personal thing. It was all about establishing who they are. The thing that was really good about today's practice, too, was we started slow. Our inside run was terrible. I made a couple of comments, and then they responded very well and they finished up and they did a nice job. I really liked the way they picked up the tempo all the way through the end of practice.

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On if he was surprised it took this long to have a fight: Honestly, I'm not surprised with this group. This is a group of guys that I've found nothing in terms of any animosity. This is a group of guys that wants to come together, and they've been trying to come together. So honestly, I am surprised there was a little bit of a tussle but not really. These guys work together, and they've got a good feel for one another. This group likes each other. They're holding themselves accountable. We've just got a little bit more to go in terms of developing as a team but we've got a long way to go to develop as a team that is going to execute the way it needs to. I expect there to be a couple more now that the ice has been broken.

On who won the fight: I'm a defensive coach, so let's call it a draw.

On tackle Jeff Otah: I see a big, physical guy, who's got the kind of athletic ability you like. He's got a nice, powerful presence about him, and I think he can help impact and influence the way we are going to do things on offense.

On if there have been any surprises so far in training camp: I think the way they are understanding how we want things done. That's been a great surprise. The thing we've got to do is break some bad habits. We've got to get them to understand the way we want things done, and they are starting to get that. Today's practice was better than yesterday's. I think we're heading in the right direction, and that's probably the biggest thing. As far as individuals go, what we're getting from (wide receiver) Armanti Edwards has been outstanding. It's been a reflection of the way he worked (in the offseason). Guys have got to understand that the offseason is important. Whether you have OTA's or mini-camps, how you handle that offseason is important. Armanti has made some great strides, and, hopefully, he can continue to grow as a football player.

On if the Panthers are limited moving forward in terms of salary cap space after re-signing several unrestricted free agents and signing other players to contract extensions last week: No. I know there is a plan in talking to (general manager) Marty (Hurney). We talk about that all the time, so there is a plan. As things unfold and develop for us as a team in terms of players not just for this year but for the next few years, Marty will have that plan and he'll lay it out as he goes along.

On placing an emphasis on stripping the ball: Truthfully, it all started with (defensive coordinator) Sean (McDermott) and me when we were in Philadelphia with Jim Johnson. One of the things that we try to do is strip and rip. That's a big part of what we will do on defense. We will preach takeaways. We will start insisting it. It was interesting because the very first practice we had, nobody was going for the ball. Nobody was stripping it or ripping it. Sean and I talked about it, and they've been preaching it, and the guys are starting to understand it. When that ball is on the ground, we're going to pick it up ' scoop and score ' and let the referees blow it dead. So until it's blown dead, somebody should be breaking to pick the ball up on the ground.

On if he is happy to have linebacker Jon Beason back in the middle of the team's 4-3 defense: Yes I am. Jon and I talked about what he is going to do and how he is going to do it for us. I feel very comfortable with him and his athletic ability on the inside. That's probably the reason why we made the move for (defensive tackle) Ron Edwards. We wanted a big body in front of him so that our linebackers can run and get a chance to make plays downhill. I think a guy like Ron with his ability to get into that crease and command a double team should help our inside backers.

On wide receiver David Gettis being out at the end of practice: From what I understand, he might have tweaked his hamstring a little bit. But they are going to get him upstairs and take care of him. Hopefully, he'll be out tomorrow evening.

On quarterback Tony Pike's injury: The shoulder is sore. He got an MRI and he had a little inflammation, so they don't want him throwing right now. We've got to be patient with it, and, hopefully, he'll get stronger and stronger.

On how long Pike will be out: We'll see. It's all about how he's recovering. I know he'll be working with (head athletic trainer) Ryan (Vermillion) and his staff, and, hopefully, it will be soon.

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