San Jose, CA-If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, Peyton Manning must be blushing.
The Carolina Panthers, Manning’s opponent in this Sunday’s Super Bowl, are doing their best to imitate the future Hall of Fame quarterback’s famous calls at the line of scrimmage.
Backup quarterback Derek Anderson shouted the familiar “Omaha! Omaha!” as he ran the Panthers scout team during their 1-hour and 15-minute practice on Thursday. That call, which Manning typically uses to signal an impending snap, drew the Panthers aggressive defense offside at least once during the workout.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera feels giving his team the chance to hear Anderson shout some of Manning’s famous audibles can help them get ready for the real thing come Super Bowl Sunday. “We’re trying,” Rivera said. “We know that certain things mean something else, but it’s just so our players hear it.”
Manning made the “Omaha” call famous during a 2014 divisional playoff game, using it a total of 44 times and drawing the San Diego Chargers offside a playoff record five times. “We got one today,” Rivera said. “That was one of the things that got me today. We’re shooting for perfection.”
While Rivera believes it’s important to give his players the chance to hear Manning’s trademark audibles in preparation for the big game, some players disagree. Soon to be retired Oakland Raiders and NY Giants pass rusher Justin Tuck, who has played against Manning twice a year for the majority of his time in Denver, thinks worrying about what number 18 does at the line of scrimmage is a mistake.
“Most of the stuff that comes out of Peyton’s mouth is just him playing chess with you,” Tuck said in the NFL’s most recent “Top 100” documentary. “A lot of people play checkers with him. That’s another part of his genius. He keeps defenses off balance because you’re always trying to figure it out. That gets you in trouble. Most of the time I try and tune him out. You have to worry about your responsibilities and what you have to do to win the game because most of the time you’re not going to catch onto it anyway.”
Only time will tell whether focusing on Manning’s cadence in practice is the right decision for the Panthers. However, there were a few additional tidbits from the NFC Champ’s Thursday practice worth noting.
Previous practices during the week had been sluggish for Carolina. Yet, according to the pool report, prepared by Jarrett Bell, one of the few reporters allowed to watch the team work out this week, the Panthers tempo has picked up as the week has gone along.
However, that doesn’t mean they had a perfect practice. “There were some things as far as detail that we needed to clean up,” Rivera said. “We had four mistakes. That will cost you. The game comes down to a matter of mistakes.
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