While the bye week offers the Carolina Panthers an opportunity to prepare for the Dallas Cowboys, their Week 7 opponent, the players have been using this week to take a closer look at their own play.
The coaching staff has started to break down film of the Cowboys, but the focus won’t turn to Dallas until next week.
“Going back and having a chance to look at what we’ve done at all phases of football, there are some things that we’re doing well and some things that we need to correct,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “We need to continue to work to find the best positions to put our players in terms of having success. That’s something we worked on today.
“We’ve looked at (Dallas), but we haven’t looked at them closely. What we’ve really done is looked at ourselves. We went back and watched the five games and had an opportunity to break them down in all phases.”
Rivera has met with the offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators this week.
Players will return Monday after the league-mandated four days off during a bye week.
Rivera’s bye week plans include finishing the team evaluation, then flying to California to watch his daughter play softball before returning to Charlotte.
Several players said the bye comes at a good time, allowing them to reset after a 1-4 start that puts the Panthers in the conference cellar.
“It’s not over,” strong safety Charles Godfrey said. “You make it to the playoffs and anybody can make it to the Super Bowl. We’re not going to hang our heads and say it’s over now.
“We’ve made it harder for ourselves, but it’s not over yet.”
BYE BEHAVIOR: Rivera told his team to watch themselves after a bye-week incident last season resulted in an arrest.
Former Carolina linebacker Lawrence Wilson was cited with marijuana possession and speeding last season during the bye, and he was cut by the team days later.
Like every year, the team had an NFL life skills presentation this week that highlighted drug and alcohol issues.
“I reiterated what we heard (Tuesday) and said let’s be smart and let’s be careful and not have an incident like last season,” Rivera said.
STEWART BOUNTY: A letter from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to all 32 teams shed new light on the Saints’ bounty scandal and how it directly affected the Carolina Panthers.
In a 2010 game, Goodell writes, three Panthers were seriously injured: Running backs Jonathan Stewart and Tyrell Sutton and quarterback Matt Moore. Stewart and Sutton were carted off the field, which the letter states “satisfied former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ definition of cart-offs: ‘big hits that resulted in an opposing player leaving the game due to a hit.’”
When asked Wednesday about the new information, Stewart said it was “irrelevant” because he thought the bounty scandal had already been handled.
“I play football knowing there’s a 100 percent chance of me getting hurt. It doesn’t change the way I play,” Stewart said.
RIVERA MADE: Cam Newton’s latest men’s clothing line, MADE, is set to hit stores early next year.
But don’t expect Rivera to be seen in the latest suit from the Belk brand.
“It might be a little too hip for me,” he said. “I’m a Dockers guy.”
PARKER BACK: The Panthers signed cornerback Ron Parker back to the practice squad a day after releasing him.
Parker was active for Sunday’s game against Seattle due to CB Chris Gamble’s absence, but when defensive tackle Andre Neblett returned from his four-game suspension, a roster move had to be made.
Parker was cut Tuesday, but signed back with the team and practiced on Wednesday.
“He did some good things for us on special teams and he’s a young man that we’re going to keep our eye on because he did good things,” Rivera said.
Staff writer Joseph Person contributed