The Carolina Panthers will be one step closer to the regular season when they take the field in Buffalo Friday night to take on the Bills. Even though it is only the first preseason game, which starters play only about a quarter, there is a certain amount of excitement surrounding this game. These were the three main takeaways from Ron Rivera's press conference today.
Cam Newton to Play only the First Quarter
Rivera mentioned at the start of his press conference that Cam Newton would only play the first quarter or so. This is usually par for the course in the first preseason game for NFL teams. At this point in his career, Newton is a veteran and doesn’t necessarily need as much playing time as some of the younger players. It is also important to remember that Newton did suffer a rib injury during the preseason last year. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the coaching staff err on the side of caution with their franchise quarterback this preseason.
Panthers Have Already Ruled Out Two Players
In terms of injuries, Rivera said that defensive end Charles Johnson and offensive linemen Amini Silatolu would be out for their game against Buffalo. Johnson and Silatolu each suffered a calf injury on Sunday and has been held out of practice since then. It remains to be seen how long he will be out but it doesn’t necessarily sound too serious. I believe the Panthers are just giving them plenty of time to fully recover.
Rivera Will Be Watching WRs and DEs
Rivera was asked what positions he is going to be focused on or the most interested to watch. He first mentioned wide receiver and the depth the team has at the position. There is no denying that the Panthers are much stronger this training camp than they were at this time last year. The additions of Ted Ginn Jr., Devin Funchess, and Jarrett Boykin plus the improvements of Kelvin Benjamin and Corey Brown in training camp has to be exciting for the coaching staff.
The other position he mentioned was at defensive end. Rivera talked about the opportunity for more playing time with Johnson sitting out this week. Frank Alexander has played extremely well this offseason and looks to have the inside track to the starting job opposite Johnson. This means players like Kony Ealy, Mario Addison and Wes Horton are going to be fighting for those back up jobs.
Click here to listen Ron Rivera’s entire press conference after practice on Wednesday.
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