's Senior Bowl Blog, Part I's Michael Lombardo reports live from Mobile, Ala., where Carolina scouts are eyeing the nation's premier senior prospects. Check out the latest news, including an interview with Ron Rivera's mentor, a Q&A with a top defensive line prospect and a scouting report from one of Brandon LaFell's former teammates.

Q&A with DT Stephen Paea (Jan. 24, 10:15 p.m.)

DT Stephen Paea
Christian Petersen/Getty
Oregon State DT Stephen Paea (6-foot-1, 312 pounds) is one of the most intriguing prospects in the NFL Draft. A former rugby player, he moved to the United States at age 16 and played just three years of football before signing with Oregon State in 2008. He has quickly emerged as one of the nation's premier run stuffers and has the quickness to develop as a pass rusher.

After Monday's practice, I caught up with the mauler.

Michael Lombardo: How did it feel to get back on the practice field for the first time in almost two months?

Stephen Paea: It was awesome. I was just knocking off the rust today. I am going to come back tomorrow and start getting after the offensive linemen again. Things are getting better. It helps playing with the coaches of the Cincinnati Bengals, which is really an honor.

ML: How different is it working with pro coaches for the first time?

SP: It's different as far as terminology, that's the biggest thing about it. You can tell they are professional coaches; they have a different kind of attitude. They are trying to teach us to be professionals and we are learning as we go.

ML: What are you trying to show to all the non-Bengals coaches in attendance?

SP: I need to show that I have good athletic ability to get after running backs and quarterbacks. I want to polish up on my techniques and get after it.

ML: What has been the biggest question about your game and how do you answer it this week?

SP: I've been inconsistent. I didn't have a good first half of the season. I need to prove to everyone who thinks I'm not a good football player that they're wrong.

ML: How do you go about proving that point?

SP: I'll let my film speak for me. There is nothing I can say to persuade them. Everything is laid out on the field.

ML: What are your plans for the time between the Senior Bowl and the NFL Draft?

SP: I'll be training in Southern California with Ken Vick at Velocity. It's awesome; basic stuff, nothing new. Working out, watching my diet, things like that.

LaFell's Biggest LaFan (Jan. 24, 10:56 p.m.)

LB Kelvin Sheppard
Kevin C. Cox/Getty
The Carolina Panthers will retool their offense under new coordinator Rob Chudzinski. One position up in the air is wide receiver, where Carolina must decide how much faith to put in 2010 picks Brandon LaFell and David Gettis.

One player here at the Senior Bowl believes LaFell is like the cowbell -- you can never have too much. That player is LB Kelvin Sheppard, who played with LaFell at LSU.

"I watch some of his games," said Sheppard of LaFell. "He texted me congratulations [on being invited to the Senior Bowl]. We hung out a little bit at LSU, so we're cool. The whole LSU family sticks together."

Sheppard even knows exactly how the Panthers should use LaFell in 2011.

"When he's in the slot, he's dangerous," Sheppard said. "His routes are precise and he's very quick. It's hard to stay on his hip."

Norv Turner Excited for His Protege (Jan. 24, 6:33 p.m.)

Coach Norv Turner
Doug Pensinger/Getty
I spoke with San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner today as he was attending the North Team practice. Although Turner lost two standout members of his staff when Ron Rivera became Carolina's head coach and Rob Chudzinski followed to become the team's offensive coordinator, he is excited for the opportunity awaiting his former pupils.

Rivera inherits a job that is the polar opposite of the one Turner took over in 2007. Turner took charge of a 14-2 team that had nowhere to go but down; that is certainly not the case in Carolina.

"There is nowhere to go but up," said Turner of Carolina. "[The Panthers] were terrible last season. What did they score, 16 touchdowns? That has to be an all-time record."

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and also a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.

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