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Carolina Panthers

Rivera's remarks: WR competition heats up


Comments from Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera.

On his experience with wide receiver Legedu Naanee in San Diego: I was in San Diego with him, obviously, and had an opportunity to watch him throughout his entire career there. He did a terrific job, not just playing as a receiver but also on special teams. He's going to bring a little something to us. It will be good for us.

On Naanee's role on special teams with the Chargers: He has the ability to play gunner. He played a wing on punt team, he played the front line on kickoff return and at some point he had also covered kicks. He's a big, physical guy and a heck of an athlete.

On why it was important to bring in another veteran wide receiver: Probably the biggest thing is we've had nobody step up other than Steve (Smith). We've got to find guys that are going to step up and challenge for the position. This is an opportunity to have a guy that understands the system, knows the system, can help show the young guys how to do the system and what it takes to be a pro. He's been a good pro. He's been a guy that was on the field for the Chargers and was successful for them. We think this is a guy that could help us in that respect.

On if this move will curb any complacency among the team's young wide receivers: If there is any, hopefully, they'll understand. And if there is an issue, I'd like for them to come visit with me and we can talk about it. But I think this is a clear cut thing, and they understand that this is all about competing and when you get an opportunity you must certainly have to take advantage.

On if he has not liked what he has seen out of the Panthers other wide receivers: I'm just saying that this is another guy that gives us an opportunity to find out if he can fit for us. He's a veteran guy that's been in this system. I think that really helps and it will help all of the young guys.

On if Naanee can stretch the field: Yes, he's got that kind of athletic ability and speed. It will be good for us as I said and it will be good for the young players to watch a guy inside the system and learn from him.

On linebacker Omar Gaither's role: He is a very versatile linebacker. He can play all three positions and did a lot of nice things for (the Eagles) when he was in Philadelphia with (defensive coordinator) Sean (McDermott). Sean feels very confident in his ability to play all three positions for us as well as special teams.

On if defensive coordinator Sean McDermott recommended signing Gaither: Yes. When you know a guy that's a smart football player and has a background and he's available, you most certainly do want to consider him. We brought him in, had a chance to visit with him and were really impressed by his football knowledge.

On the transformation of defensive tackle Corvey Irvin from last year to this year: Truthfully, I did not know a lot about Corvey from last year, so it was a clean slate. From what I've seen, I've been impressed. I really like what I see from the young man. Other than having watched him on tape from last season and not knowing him personally, I've got to say I'm impressed. I think he is giving us the kind of effort that you would expect from a guy that wants to make a team and be part of what you do. That's what I'm looking for, and I'm real pleased with it.

On what position Irvin will play along the defensive front: He would be big at the three and he seems to be athletic enough to be able to help us at the nose as well. He can play more than one position as far as our defensive line is concerned, whether it's a one or three. I think he has that kind of ability.

On having the full roster of players available to practice for the first time Wednesday night: It was very good. It was great to have them all available because we were able to have a normal length practice. We were able to get to normal reps; we weren't cutting reps to try and take it easy on guys like we had to because of the numbers. Now that we have the numbers that we need, we're able to re-install those reps and we're able to do the periods the way we want to. It was good. It was exciting. The guys that had been watching understand the tempo we want from the guys that have been practicing at in the last few days. That's a huge plus that those guys stepped in and they understood how we wanted practice to function.

On tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide receiver Steve Smith having Thursday night's practice off: We gave the two older guys an opportunity to take a break. Steve didn't want to take a complete break. He wanted to continue to work on his individual and install periods, so Steve dressed out halfway - just his shoulder pads and shorts - and went through those things. Then when it came to the team periods and actual activities, he backed off and got his rest. It was good to see those guys take a break, because they earned it.

On if he has any new adjectives in addition to "wow" to describe quarterback Cam Newton: I think wow pretty much speaks for itself. You watch him and you see certain things. But as I said, too, don't discount some of the things that Jimmy (Clausen) has done. Jimmy has taken some great strides based on having watched tape and trying to keep an open mind and a clean slate for him as well. He's thrown some good balls and he's made some good decisions. He had a good two-minute drill yesterday and he had a good blitz period as well. What you're looking for is that kind of improvement and development. Let's not forget that Jimmy came out as a junior. I think he just turned 22. Last year, he didn't have the kind of training camp that he needed to become a starter. So a lot of things were dumped on his plate. What we're trying to do is develop two young quarterbacks more so than anything else.

On the qualities Newton brings: First and foremost is his stature. He is a big man. When you see him run the ball like he did yesterday on a couple of those plays, it is "Wow." Then you see one of the safeties or corners come up to him, to me that's impressive. Cam lowers that shoulder, and, hopefully, it's his left shoulder he lowers, that's going to be an impressive sight.

On the results of the MRI on center Zack Williams, who suffered a knee injury in practice Thursday night: They took him back (to Charlotte), so we won't get that report until later today.

On if linebacker Jon Beason will practice Friday night: He worked out a little bit here, and we'll all get the report to find out.

On how close defensive end Greg Hardy is to returning: Soon I hope. It depends on how everything is healing up, and once it gets to that point we'll get him back.

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