CHARLOTTE – As soon as head coach Ron Rivera took a seat on the set of ESPN's "First Take" Friday, we all knew what was about to be the topic of discussion.
Rivera was asked about quarterback Cam Newton and where he's at following a procedure on his throwing shoulder.
"I was fortunate enough to see him after the procedure, it was one of his first recovery days, and he said, 'Coach, I got the mobility back,'" Rivera said. "That was a huge plus.
"He feels challenged. And any time he's felt challenged he's stepped up his game."
Stephen A. Smith then went on to ask Rivera about possibly bringing in another quarterback to bring more out of Newton.
"I don't disagree with that because if there is one thing that he likes it's to be challenged. Bringing in another quarterback, bringing in somebody to compete with him most certainly does motivate him," Rivera said. "But more so than anything else, the naysayers, those whispers, those are motivating enough for him."
Rivera closed out the segment by talking about importance of protecting Newton and providing him with the weapons to be successful.
"Going into free agency, we'll look at offensive linemen. Going into the draft, we'll look at offensive linemen. But also we'll look at playmakers – guys that when the ball gets in their hands, they take pressure off the quarterback," Rivera said.
"We've mapped out a plan. We have to do things to make our team better. First and foremost is protecting the quarterback and putting playmakers around him."
First Take filmed live at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday and Friday ahead of the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte. Guests included head coach Ron Rivera, former Hornets great Muggsy Bogues, six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.