Sports & Culture Media

Head Coach Ron Rivera

Media Release
Training Camp

On if he senses the coaches and players are more amped up for a game week:
“I suppose a bit more than anything else is we’re playing against somebody else. So, we don’t want to go there and get our butts kicked. We want to go out there and we want to play hard. We want to play right and we’re going to play to win, so we want to practice that way. We want to make sure the guys understand the sense of urgency, the importance, how things are changing and you’re right, we were ramped up a little bit today. I thought we started slow and I wasn’t very happy about that. So, we threw the offense off and started with the defense and we picked up our tempo from that point on, so I was happy about that. But, that’s what we’re looking for when you start getting ready and there was no second chances once you get started, you got to roll.”

On G Ereck Flowers getting reps on the left side of the offensive line and DT Matt Ioannidis being in pads but not practicing:
“Well, we’ve always had been mixing Ereck with the first team at the left side and that’s what he is. That’s what he’s really good at and he’s had a good camp. As far as Matt’s concerned, we’re ramping Matt up. He wanted to come out in full gear and kind of get a sense and a feel. He went through some of the group stuff. When guys are coming back, we just want to make sure they’re ready to roll before we expose them to anything.”

On how he thinks OL Saahdiq Charles has looked in his first true offseason and training camp:
“Saahdiq has come a long way. I really do think that. There’s a lot of little things that he still has to learn. The fortunate stuff for him is the guys that he’s behind are some veteran guys that he can really learn from and that’s one of the luxuries we have is we’ve got some pretty good depth right now, so we’re feeling pretty strong about that.”

On if things have gotten easier for Charles at the exterior and interior positions on the offensive line:
“He’s learning both spots because we think it will be really valuable for him. Once we get an opportunity to truly say, ‘Hey, this is what he’s really good at,’ we’ll settle in, but right now, having the position flex is probably the best thing. An opportunity may be created for him and we’ll see.”

On the defense having another year in the system:
“I think they can make a big jump. I think a big part of it is first of all, getting everybody to buy in and how to do it. The way that we want things done and I think that’s very important. Once guys get a feel for the fact that we don’t need one guy conquering and winning and destroying everybody. We need everybody to be disciplined, do your jobs and make the plays you’re supposed to. The plays will come to the guys. That’s the thing they’ve got to understand is the play comes to you and then you got to make it and that’s where we are now. I think the discipline part of it is really big for us. But the thing that I really think that you see now as they’re playing faster, they’re communicating better. That’s the important thing because once that happens, playing fast is at an optimal because that’s when you make plays.”

On why CB William Jackson III did not participate in team drills:

“We’re just bringing William along. He was nicked the other day and we just want to make sure and be careful.”

On what the biggest difference has been in this camp with what he has seen out of WR Terry McLaurin:
“I think it’s really about his route running more than anything else and that’s selling the route a little bit more before you break off it. Sometimes certain routes, they account for a certain amount of depth and sometimes the guy gets anxious and he breaks the route off too soon and he’s not really where he needs to be. That’s probably one of the things that you see about Terry, his route running is getting even better and it’s also for a couple of our other guys, it was just understanding that, you’ve got to make sure you’re at the optimal depth. You’ve got to make sure you get the optimal width on your release. Those are things that are important. Those are the little things that require a little bit of patience, a little bit of discipline when you run routes.”

On how much he sees that trickle down to some of the younger guys:
“Well, the one guy that you really see is you see, [WR] Dyami [Brown] really kind of showing some really positive things as well as [WR] Dax [Milne]. You see these young guys, they’re watching these veteran guys and I think they’re learning from them.”

On QB Taylor Heinicke’s injury and if he is confident in the health of the quarterback room:
“No, we’re fine with where we are. Taylor’s moving around well, doing some really good things. Very, very pleased with his continued progress. Obviously I like how Fitz is really fitting in right now with our guys. Kind of a little anxious getting Kyle back. We want to Kyle back out there and get him working. But, we gotta continue with that. [QB] Steven’s [Montez] progressing. He’s a young guy and he’s got a lot to learn.”

On if he took anything that he still uses now in working with quarterbacks that he learned from his time with former Panthers QB Cam Newton:
“Well, one of the biggest things that we talked about is [playing to] that player’s strength, sticking to what he does best. That was one of the things that I think really made Cam such a special player, is the things that he did best, he did really good. He really, really did and he’s that kind of player. He can optimize his talents and when you do that, you give him a chance to succeed. He’s a guy that personally, I would never vote against.” of special teams minimum.”

On QB Taylor Heinicke’s resilience shown in practice:
“That’s always big, a guy that can shake things off. And I’ll be honest with you, just watching him get bumped. I didn’t think that there was anything to it. But getting back in the huddle, when you shake things off, your teammates see it and that helps your guys. So that was good for him.”

On his appreciation of the preseason from a player to a coach:
“Not really, it’s just a different perspective more than it is anything else. I think there are some important aspects to the preseason, not just the practice. But the opportunity to compete against an opponent. Because I think there’s nothing like true competition. As a coach, one of the things that I always tell our guys is we get high on players when you’re practicing against each other. That’s because there’s no consequences. When you start putting an opponent out there and you start keeping score, now there’s consequences. So, for a coach, now’s the chance to really see. You may have a defensive back that makes a lot of plays. And he said, guys, he’s doing that well, but if you look at the tape, you see he’s jumping specific routes, no consequences. Now you’re in the game time. Now, that’s what we really look for. It’s the same thing when we do the one-on-one pass rush. Sometimes and end will get caught up on something and he’ll just kind of shut it down. Well in the game there’s consequences because you can see that practice a little bit different. So, for me, I think it’s really just perspective more than as anything else. No matter how I look at it, I still hate it just because it’s not the real deal. I can’t wait for the regular season to start. I really can’t and you get very anxious. I mean the first couple of days of camp, it’s cool because you are seeing everybody again and it’s fresh and it’s new. And then after a while becomes drudgery. You got to remember, I played in a little different era when things were just a little bit different. So as a coach, the appreciation of the good old days is missed on these young guys because they don’t know. They have no idea what it was really like.”

On how the two weeks after the last preseason game will help him as a coach:
“It’ll help you once you get things going and you get a good flow as you’re preparing for the regular season. That’s a good question, because I’ve been thinking about the best way to optimize those two weeks. So, once we can get into the flow and get a rhythm going as far as coaching. Getting players to practice and understand the tempo, the speed of practice that we’re going to need. I think you’ll feel really good about it. Secondly, it gives you an opportunity to make sure all of your good guys are ready to go. When I say good guys, your starters are ready to go. They’ve had two weeks to prepare for it. And I think it’s going to make for a really good opening week for everybody throughout the league.”

On what it’s been like watching QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR Adam Humphries work together:

“I’ll say this when you watch what [QB Ryan Fitzpatrick] has done with some of the other guys too, you do see that chemistry right away. He’s got a great rapport right now with [WR] Terry [McLaurin]. I like how he’s kind of gotten into that groove with him. I liked the rapport you see that he has with [TE] Logan [Thomas]. And you watch some of the things that he’s done with [WR] Cam Sims and stuff. He’s got a great sense of feel for the backs. I think the thing with Adam, and again, it’s understanding what the situation is. Situational football dictates a lot. Third-and-short, third-and-medium. The tendency is to work a little bit more inside, work the slot a little bit. That’s where you do see the chemistry and that’s important, you know? It’s a good thing that they know each other, they understand each other because now you get into a game, and you just know that he has a good feel that he trusts him a lot.”

On QB Steven Montez’s interceptions in practice:
“The truth about it with Steven. And I tell Steven, he’s got to stop trying to make the perfect play and just make the right play. He’s trying to do things that if you’re a three, four-year vet, that’s had success and understanding, and you got feel for those types of things, those are the kinds of things that you can do. When you don’t have the kind of experience you have to stop trying to make the perfect play and score a touchdown on every play. It’s not going to happen. So, you make the right play. If the call is to take the check down, you throw a check down. If it calls for a slant, throw the slant, but we don’t need you to make those home runs. So, for me right now, and Steven is letting him go out and learn. Letting him make the mistakes and just hope he learns from those mistakes. And we don’t see that mistake over and over and over again. Because there is a point where they get to the old thing about insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting something different to happen.”

On if not having joint practices increases the maturity of the team:
“Yes and yes. If you go back and look at my history in Carolina, we practiced against other teams. We didn’t practice against another team until my fourth year when we really felt comfortable. Then it became something that we did, I think on an annual basis. Well, we did three more times or two more times, but I do think there is value to that, and that does break up the monotony. But you know, with us still having some of the COVID protocols and then us going down to Richmond, I just felt that this would not be an appropriate time to do it. And we are a young football team, and it is something that we will explore going into the future.”

Tyler Butler