Panthers coach Ron Rivera addresses questions about offseason plans, ownership
What we heard, saw and learned on Carolina Panthers move-out day Monday at Bank of America Stadium, a day after a 31-26 playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints. Check back for more updates.
▪ Interim general manager Marty Hurney said that by Monday afternoon the team would be moving on to free agency plans and next season.
▪ Hurney also said he’d like to stay on as the team’s permanent general manager. “I love what I’m doing,” he said.
▪ Tight end Greg Olsen said it’s early to speculate, but he’d like to see Hurney retained for “stability” during this transition to new owner.
▪ Coach Ron Rivera on wide receiver Devin Funchess: “I don’t think people realize, but he’s been playing for the last 6, 7 weeks with a really banged-up shoulder.”
▪ Rivera on Julius Peppers’ future: “Pep and I had a nice conversation. ... We’ve got a number of veteran guys who are really neat people and we’ll see how it goes.”
▪ Rivera on how strategy changed against Saints when Graham Gano missed an early field goal: “That’s all part of the game, too.”
▪ Rivera on ownership change: “I hope it’s certainly someone’s who’s willing to keep the team here.”
▪ Olsen also said locking up All-Pro offensive guard Andrew Norwell needs to be a priority in free agency.
▪ Fairly empty locker room here for Panthers on clean out day. Lots of guys signing some last autographs on the way out.
▪ Lots of love in the locker room – guys hugging, exchanging jerseys. ... The Panthers have been through a lot this season, and the bonds show.
▪ Regarding Steve Wilks taking a head coaching job, most Panthers seem to think he’s gone. Wilks has multiple interviews lined up already, including with Giants, Cardinals, Colts, more.
▪ If Wilks leaves, Rivera said there are qualified candidates on the defensive staff to replace him. Eric Washington would likely be at the top of that list.
▪ Rivera said he doesn’t expect any staff changes other than the possibility of a coach getting a job elsewhere. That’s your update on offensive coordinator Mike Shula.
▪ Rivera said he doesn’t think Cam Newton has had any post-concussion symptoms, “but again I’m not the doctor.” He said Newton had not yet had his exit interview.
▪ Rivera on the overall state of officiating, said there is lots of vagueness to the rules, and that the referees need help. “They do need to add an extra referee” behind the linebackers, Rivera said.
▪ Rivera said he talked to the side judge about the Mike Adams’ interception but never got much of an explanation on why it wasn’t reviewed. Change of possession is supposed to be automatically reviewed.
▪ The mood from most of the Panthers in the locker room was still. “We shouldn’t be out this early.” There is lots of talk about licking wounds and coming back next season.
▪ Former Georgia stars Thomas Davis and Charles Johnson both had the “Go Dawgs” cheer going. Both are planning to be in Atlanta for Georgia’s national championship matchup against Alabama on Monday night.
▪ Davis said he knows he may have to accept a reduced role next season, and that it’s the nature of the NFL. But didn’t say he would just accept being a backup.
▪ Davis said linebacker Shaq Thompson and David Mayo both have played to a level where they deserve to be on the field more.
▪ Johnson said he hopes he’s back with Carolina next season.
▪ Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey walks up to Jonathan Stewart at jokingly says, “Thanks for ... thanks.” Stewart said he was happy to take McCaffrey under his wing.
▪ Stewart on if he still sees himself with the Panthers next season: “I’m still ticking, especially after last night.”
▪ Stewart praised Jerry Richardson for all he’s done for the Carolinas, and for giving him a chance in NFL.
▪ Bryan Cox Jr. says he hopes to be back in Charlotte next season, but notes this is the NFL and anything can happen.
▪ Wide receiver Kaelin Clay, alone, by himself said it has finally sunk in that the season’s over.