Carolina Panthers veteran safety Eric Reid went to Twitter for a public “My bad,” and coach Ron Rivera loved that gesture as setting an example for accountability.
Friday, during Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium, quarterback Cam Newton connected with wide receiver Curtis Samuel on a long pass that left cornerback James Bradberry trailing in coverage. Reid used his Twitter account to apologize to Bradberry for being out of position, thus making Bradberry look bad.
Rivera said Monday that’s what leaders do. Reid over-committed to covering tight end Greg Olsen, left a teammate vulnerable and took ownership for his mistake.
“It tells everybody to take responsibility. It tells everybody you have to be accountable to your teammates,” Rivera said after Monday practice. “For all the young players to see that? That speaks volumes about the type of young man (Reid) is and those are the type of players we need on this football team.”
That’s not to diminish what Samuel did, recognizing the defense was out of position and exploiting it for a big gain. That improved recognition is helping Samuel use his elite speed and quickness to greater impact this training camp. As Rivera described, “He’s light years from where he was when he came as a rookie.”
Will Newton play Thursday?
Rivera sounded open to playing Newton in Thursday’s first preseason game in Chicago against the Bears. However, that fell far short of a final decision.
Rivera said all four quarterbacks “should” play Thursday, but that was still under discussion as they manage Newton’s shoulder following offseason surgery. Rivera said how much Newton plays in the four preseason games is part of a wider plan for how many days he’ll get off from throwing, “As we go forward, we’re going to cut back on some things,” Rivera said of Newton’s preseason.
The big question is who will end up as Newton’s backup. Kyle Allen was listed on the preseason depth chart Monday as the second quarterback, with third-round pick Will Grier as No. 3 and Taylor Heinike as No. 4. Allen and Grier have been getting comparable repetitions with the first offense on days Newton doesn’t throw.
Veteran safety Tre Boston, signed by the Panthers on Wednesday, was listed on the depth chart as the starter at free safety. Cornerback Donte Jackson has already bonded with Boston over a trait they share.
“He’s a loudmouth guy! Coming from a loudmouth guy, you like to have another guy back there who talks as much as you, if not more in Tre’s case,” Jackson said.
“He’s been a leader. He’s been on a successful team that has been to a Super Bowl. With a young group, you need someone in there who knows what it takes.”
Jackson started last season as a rookie and had four interceptions. He says his goal this season is to raise that number to seven or eight, plus numerous pass-breakups. Jackson said one of the things he noticed in the offseason is that his technical skills trailed off in games when he got tired last season; focus was a big agenda item for him.
Jackson said a week of training camp has illustrated how deep and talented the Panthers’ wide receivers are, centered on Samuel and DJ Moore.
“Electrifying. They both are big plays waiting to happen,” Jackson described. “And then when you’ve got C-Mac (running back Christian McCaffrey) in the backfield, that’s a lot of weapons you have to look out for.”
▪ Rookie pass-rusher Brian Burns missed part of Monday practice with a lower-left leg injury. Rivera continues to praise how quickly the first-round pick out of Florida State is adapting to the NFL: “He’s really separated himself from all the other outside linebackers.”
▪ Monday was the middle of a three-practice segment of training camp before the Panthers travel to Chicago, the only one in this span when players were fully padded. Intensity got a little excessive to the point that Rivera said he regretted telling the players in advance they would be in shells-and-shorts Tuesday.
▪ The coaches started on some game-management in practice Monday. For instance, when a miscommunication on a play call happened in a huddle, Newton was told to call his own play because by then on the play clock, the radio in his helmet would have been disconnected in a game.
▪ Two Panthers defensive ends, Efe Obada and Marquis Haynes, were excused from Monday practice for personal days. Rivera said they should be back for Tuesday’s practice.
▪ After a big Sunday with an interception and a fingertip pass-breakup, nickel corner Javien Elliott shined again Monday with a goal-line interception of Newton. Newton had another interception, by Jackson, later in practice, but that was a deflection off Olsen.
▪ Rookie running back Jordan Scarlett missed practice Sunday and Monday after taking a hard hit Friday.