No injury updates – yet
For years, head coach Ron Rivera has avoided talking to head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion before noon on Mondays. That's because Rivera doesn't want to then go into detail on injuries during his weekly 12:30 press conference.
So it came as no surprise that Rivera offered little when asked for updates on tight end Greg Olsen and right tackle Daryl Williams, who were both injured during Sunday's season-opening win.
"I've told you this, and I'll tell you again: I have not talked to RV. I usually wait until after this," Rivera said. "It's a question I'm not going to answer. I don't know, to be honest with you. Honestly, I have not talked to RV."
Rivera did say after Sunday's game that Williams' injury wasn't similar to the torn medial collateral ligament and dislocated patella he suffered early in training camp in the same right knee. Olsen also injured the same right foot that cost him nine games last season, and seeing him on the sideline in a walking boot and on crutches didn't leave much optimism that he'll be back soon.
That would leave fourth-round pick Ian Thomas as the next man up, which would be a big step up in responsibility for a 23-year-old who played essentially one season of major college football.
"I think he's pretty well prepared," Rivera said. "There are some things, obviously, that he still has to learn and he has a long way to go in terms of having the natural feel that Greg has and having that rapport Greg has.
"He's been good with his blocking, he's been good with his route running, he's been good with his receiving. But he's got to get better as a route runner, a blocker and a receiver. He's a young guy. There's a lot to his game he's got to learn."
Gaulden standing by
Rivera also wouldn't go into detail about what forced strong safety Da'Norris Searcy out of the game in the second half, but he did explain why it was Colin Jones and not third-round pick Rashaan Gaulden who replaced Searcy.
"For the most part, Colin practiced in Searcy's spot and Rashaan practiced in Mike Adams' spot. So when that guy went down, that's the guy that went in. If it would've gone the other way, Rashaan would've been out there," Rivera said.
"I'm not going to throw a guy out there that's not ready to play full-time, 100 percent just because we drafted him. We put guys in opportunities to succeed. You don't put guys in opportunities to fail. If we're going to practice him in a strong or a free (safety) position and the free goes down and he practiced the free that week, he'll play that position. It's something I learned way back early in my career. You don't expose guys to situations that they're not prepared for. That's on us as coaches. We have to make sure we're preparing them to have success."
So is Moore
When wide receiver DJ Moore "rushed" for 3 yards on the Panthers' third play from scrimmage, it appeared the first-round pick might be in for an eventful day. But he wound up playing just 17 snaps on offense and finished with more tackles (1) and punt returns (1 for 15 yards) than targets (0).
That shouldn't be all that surprising, though. The Panthers have asked Moore to learn all three wideout positions, which will take some time. So right now, he's understandably behind veterans like Jarius Wright, who's more familiar with Norv Turner's offense.
"Absolutely, just because of the plethora of receivers we have to choose from," Rivera said when asked if the plan is to bring Moore along slowly. "There's no need to force a guy on the field until he's truly ready. So he is going to be brought along at a pace that Norv and (wide receivers coach Lance Taylor) feel that he needs."