Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera looks to inject life into stoic offense

Carolina Panthers coach Eric Washington is surrounded by an energetic secondary during practice on Thursday.
Carolina Panthers coach Eric Washington is surrounded by an energetic secondary during practice on Thursday. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera noticed a distinct difference in the moods of his offense and defense at Thursday’s practice.

On the far field, Rivera saw an active, lively defense. But on the middle field, his offense didn’t seem to have much life.

Whether they were too buttoned-up or too sluggish, Rivera aimed to change that.

“I was just looking and maybe interject a little something to get the energy going,” Rivera said.

“They were a little stoic so I just thought I’d throw a little entertainment in.”

Rivera started with the receivers. Usually receivers coach Ricky Proehl fires passes to the wideouts in positional drills, and Rivera walked over to take a snap. He fumbled it though and didn’t get a pass off.

Then the fifth-year head coach made his way over to running back drills. As fullback Mike Tolbert carried the ball high and tight while stepping over bags, Rivera pawed at the ball as a test of security for Tolbert.

Rivera then went over to the offensive line drill station, but the linemen wrapped up their sled drill just as Rivera got there.

“Coach (John) Matsko saw me coming and he ran the other way with them,” Rivera joked. “It was one of the disappointing things as a head coach. They see you coming and they move the drill.”

Part of the reason Rivera saw more life on the defensive side had a lot to do with the defensive backs.

It’s become tradition for defensive line coach Eric Washington to pump up the members of the secondary at the start of practice. At last week’s practice, Washington told the defensive backs that “thievery travels,” meaning that they can get interceptions on the road just like they do at home.

This week the word was “Thievology.”

“It’s a way of life. If we’re professors, we’re taking them to school,” cornerback Josh Norman said. “We’ve taking them to Thievology school.”

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