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Carolina Panthers

Rivera's remarks: Panthers making progress


Comments from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera.

On how intrigued he is to see some of the players who have not been able to practice yet: I'm very intrigued. We've got a number of guys that are out, particularly on the defensive side. We've really only had three guys that have been starters on the defense working, so the other eight I am excited to watch. That will be good. It will give us a chance to assess where we are defensively and how far behind the guys that have had to watch are. Offensively, DeAngelo (Williams) not having the opportunity to work with the guys. That's probably the biggest one. We'll need to see what he looks like. It will also help us more so than anything else in terms of being able to bring our reps back up to where they should be. Because we've had limited number of guys out there, you can't run as many reps as you want. You don't want to run people into the ground. We're trying to keep the tweaked hamstrings, the sore lower backs, down to a minimum. So we've had to cut some reps out of periods just because we don't have enough guys.

On why he is optimistic the offense can be successful: The biggest thing that we looked at as far as this offense is concerned is where we are with the offensive line. That's probably the most important thing. This offensive line is getting put back together, and I think our offensive line could help carry us to where we need to be. You are going to need it to help take a little pressure off the quarterback. We've got to get the running game going, get the tight ends - which we seem to be in that position because of who we have at tight end. It's a good group of guys and there is enough quality veteran play at that position that's going to help us. Then get our receivers back involved. You've got to take the pressure off of the quarterback. You can't sit there and expect him to do everything by himself. So we feel pretty optimistic about it. We like the fact that it is a veteran group as far as the offensive line is concerned. We like the tandem of running backs, we like the experience at our number one receiver with Steve (Smith), and as I said, the tight ends. There are three new faces along with (Gary) Barnidge. Those guys give us a pretty formidable group.

On the practice format at Fan Fest: It will be a regular practice for the most part in terms of periods. We will do specific periods in terms of what we want to get out of practice. Because of the way things are, we really can't do anything overly special as far as that's concerned. We've got to use it as an install day as well, so our coordinators will be installing their playbook stuff that was set up for that day. We're not going to take it as a pause and try to showcase anything. We're going to use it as a regular practice day.

On if the team will scrimmage at Fan Fest: We can't. We need to use it as a teaching practice. The one thing we will do different is we'll do a special teams section at the end of each period. That will probably be the biggest difference from what practice has been. But for the most part it will be an installation practice like we've been doing.

On if he has been pleased with the tempo of practice: I have been. A couple days back, we had what I deemed a terrible practice, not a good enough practice. I told them I wasn't going to accept it and we needed to come back and pick our tempo up and eliminate the mistakes. They responded and came back with a real good practice. We challenged a couple of positions, and then the next day the guys at those positions came out and accepted the challenge. They're starting to understand what we need. It's a long ways to go. We've got a ways to go on the technical aspects of the game. While we're trying to gain on that, what we have to gain on is the way we need to do things. We need to play fast; we need to practice hard; we need to do those things first and get the tempo set for the way we're going to practice and the way we're going to play. They've responded pretty well to that.

On what he's most interested to see from wide receiver Armanti Edwards: When it's all live against other people. Now it's easy, because you know certain techniques that the corners do, certain things that they do well. You hear calls, and it tells you what to expect in terms of coverage. When you get a chance to play against competition, when we play against the Giants, it will be a good test. Not just for him but for the other guys. What's going to happen is we'll be able to gauge them as far as playing against the competition. That's what we've got to see with Armanti. Last year, everybody talked about he didn't look good in training camp, he didn't do this in training camp. The truth of the matter is Armanti had never practiced like a wide receiver ever. He had always practiced as a quarterback, and it's more stressful. This year, he took it to heart and had a great offseason from what I'm being told. What I've seen here, it looks to me as if he's done those things and he's not fading. His legs aren't dead. Mentally, he's not all over the place. This has been a great step that's he's taken, and, hopefully, it will continue. That's what we're hoping, too. That he's not a flash in the pan for the first few days where he's done a lot of good things and now he gets overwhelmed. We're hoping that he can continue to grow and show us that he is growing as a football player.


On if knows who will be the Panthers number two wide receiver: No. I think that's up in the air, and there are a lot of great challenges. (Brandon) LaFell and (David) Gettis both have shown in spurts that they have that kind of ability. It's going to be whichever one takes the bull by the horns and steps up. With what Armanti has done and some of the things he is showing us, he deserves an opportunity. We'll find places to put him on the field. I'm real excited about him, real intrigued by his abilities.

On if the Panthers need to sign another cornerback: We've got to see what we do have. We've got a lot of guys that fit the mold. We've got a couple of guys with size in R.J. (Stanford), C.J. (Wilson) and Cletis Gordon, but guys that we really don't know. We're going to have to watch them as well and see what happens in the next week. That will indicate to us what we need to do as far as getting somebody in. Secondly, with what we want to do schematically I think that can help us. Thirdly, what kind of rush we have. If we have the rush that we envision having, - get the inside push so that the quarterback can't step up and be exposed to our outside rush, then it can help us. It's not just getting the guys. If you look at teams that have a true, clear cut number one corner, have they been in the Super Bowl lately? There have been teams with a lot of twos and threes, but the thing that sets them apart is that they've had a very successful pass rush. That's one of the things we've got to do - not just find the corners but we've got to find the pass rush.

On if Sherrod Martin and Charles Godfrey are entrenched at safety: Martin, Godfrey, and I really like what we're getting from (Jordan) Pugh. We brought in a few veteran guys to compete. I do like what we're getting from those two, those three to be honest with you. We've got to find roles for all three of those guys. We've got to find a way to use Pugh. I think he's a terrific talent. You don't want to have a guy sit on the sideline and just waste away; you want him to develop. So we'll have to find ways to use all three at the same time.

On if he has thought about moving Martin or Godfrey to cornerback: No, we're not at that point. I know that they've got cover skills ability. I think Pugh has got cover skills ability as well. I think at one point all three were corners in college, so they have that kind of background. To do it right now, I'm not sure it sends the kind of message we want. We want to find out what we have at corner with the players we have brought in to camp.

On if he has decided who will start at quarterback in the preseason opener versus the New York Giants: Not yet.

On when that decision will be made: I'll sit down and get an opportunity to start visiting with Chud (offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) on that next week. Chud might have an idea right now, but that's a subject that I don't want to start broaching. Truthfully, I don't need anybody to know that, because I want those guys to continue to compete. I don't want to set one guy one way or the other. I'd like to keep that to us as long as we can until it's time for us to mention who we want to start.

On how far behind the quarterbacks are because of the lockout: Based on what we want to do, we may have only had in at this point what would have been probably a third of what you normally would've had in. As a new staff, we would have had 24 practices - two mini-camps and the 14 OTAs. Then you probably would've added a couple more double days that we could have had during training camp so far. We are behind, but everybody is in that situation. What we've had to do is we've had to pare down what we want installed. We haven't really begun to open the playbook as much as you would like to at this point. What we've got to do is we've got to be good with our base fundamentals, we've got to be good with the things that we're working on, so that when we start the season we can play fast and we can do things that you need to do to give yourself a chance to win.

On what is realistic for this team: What is realistic for this football team is to go out and compete and win football games. That's what I'm telling them. We've got a chance but we've got a long ways to go. I'm optimistic about who we are and who we're going to become. Would I like to win them all? Absolutely. Do I think we can win 10? Yeah, I think we can win 10. I think we can win 12, 11, nine, eight. I'm not sure. To do that and put a number on it would be unfair to our guys. But the one thing I want more so than anything else is to play hard, because I think that gives you a chance to win.

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