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Carolina Panthers

Rivera talks offseason plans on ESPN


Head coach Ron Rivera joined the set of ESPN's "NFL Insiders" in Houston and provided some brief updates on the Panthers' offseason.

Former Panthers general manager and current NFL analyst Bill Polian asked Rivera about plans to restructure the offense, and Rivera reiterated his belief that quarterback Cam Newton needs to be less involved in the run game.

"(Offensive coordinator) Mike Shula and I sat down and we talked about the direction and the vision for what we want to try and do," Rivera said. "We're going to mix some things up, obviously. The biggest thing, our realization is that our primary runner cannot be our quarterback.

"We're going to look to do a little more backfield sets in terms of two backs and 12 personnel with the extra tight end as the lead blocker. We've got to get guys like Jonathan Stewart rolling. We've got to put it in our backs' hands and get the ball to our playmakers."

To get the running game back where Rivera wants it, he wants to strengthen the offensive line.

"We've got to work on our depth and improve our depth," he said.

Rivera said left tackle Michael Oher, who played in just three games in 2016 before eventually landing on injured reserve, is making progress.

"Michael is continuing through the protocol," Rivera said. "He's had some really good days working out and working himself back in. We're pretty optimistic. The doctors will continue to work with him."

Rivera was also asked about plans for defensive tackle Kawann Short, clearly the biggest name on Carolina's list of potential unrestricted free agents.

"We've gone through some of our salary cap meetings already. (General manager) Dave Gettleman and his staff has looked at it, and the best way to approach KK as we get into free agency is obviously, we're probably going to have to tag him," Rivera said. "If we do, so be it. If not, I think they can get a deal done and I'm pretty optimistic about that. KK is a big part of what we do."

Lastly, Rivera was asked if he planned to stay in Houston for Super Bowl LI between the Patriots and Falcons.

"No, I'm a sore loser," he joked. "I'm not going to stay and watch."

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