The Carolina Panthers held their first mandatory practice of the offseason on Tuesday and afterwards Ron Rivera discussed the fact that there was more mistakes than he would like to see at this point.
He was asked after practice if the rookies were picking up the playbook at the pace he would like and Rivera answered by saying, "Not necessarily."
Now this is not a vote of confidence for this rookie class, one that has three cornerbacks in it expected to play key roles in rebuilding this secondary. Rivera went on to say, "We are not going to wait for them. That's part of their learning process is that figuring how to catch up."
"Some of them are making mistakes and that's the disappointment I have right now," Rivera said. "We have been together, they have been in the playbook, we have had practice, they meet with their coaches and they should be putting themselves in position where they aren't making mistakes."
The Panthers defense could be relying heavily on this rookie class that includes cornerbacks James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez who were drafted a little less than two months ago. However, this team does have options if the coaching staff doesn't feel the rookies are up to speed and ready to contribute.
The expectation is that Bene Benwikere will be the top cornerback for this defense and he could form a starting duo with veteran Robert McClain, who started for the team during the playoffs last year. The Panthers also have safety/cornerback Colin Jones to step in as nickel, a role he played in 2014, if they need a veteran at that spot as well.
The start of the season is 86 days away so that is still plenty of time for these rookies to catch up however they will need to eliminate the mistakes Rivera talks about if they hope to see significant snaps early in the upcoming season.
*To listen to Rivera's full press conference, click here.