SPARTANBURG Veteran linebacker Thomas Davis approached coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday morning and told him it’s an “enthusiasm day.”
Rivera then turned to tackle Byron Bell, and Bell’s pre-game message to the team set the tone for best practice of training camp.
With the entire team huddled in the middle of the practice field, Bell broke down the huddle by shouting words of encouragement to his teammates.
“Ain’t nobody got faith in us but Father God and us!” Bell shouted. “It don’t matter what they write about us, what they say about us! We hold our own destiny!”
Rivera sought out Bell for the speech because he has a “certain element of enthusiasm.”
“That’s his quote, and that’s why I chose him,” Rivera said. “I think also at this point in his career, it’s time for him to step up. And I wanted him to. And he took it and I let him break the team down.”
In the fifth practice of camp and the third with pads on, the Panthers hit and popped more than any other practice. There was even the first shoving match of camp, a short-lived tiff between running back Kenjon Barner and linebacker A.J. Klein.
“Today’s practice was the best one we’ve had since we started camp, and I was very pleased with it,” Rivera said. “And I told the players that after the first period. I got them up together and said, ‘Hey guys, I get on you when it’s not what we want. Well, that’s exactly what we want.’ And they carried it the rest of practice.”
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei isn’t one to get hyped before practice or games, and even he had to admit Bell’s speech got him ready for the day.
“I’m not a guy who gets too excited about too much stuff but Byron, he got the whole team going and I think that’s what led to us coming out and going strong,” Lotulelei said. “It makes everybody vibe and get it going for practice.”
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