Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers all business on field, all smiles off it

The Panthers’ locker room after Thursday’s practice replaced the Wednesday-night festivities the players missed.

There was music playing on speakers from cornerback Josh Norman’s locker, players faking champagne bottle service with Gatorade bottles and a few guys using their cellphones to imitate strobe lights.

The Panthers were loose in their final full practice before Saturday’s playoff game against the Cardinals, and coach Ron Rivera has taken notice this week.

At first he was worried, but after two consecutive days of good practices, he said his players are appropriately relaxed for the game.

“I’ll be honest with you. (Wednesday) I was a little concerned after practice, so I went up and watched the tape, and the tape was really good,” Rivera said. “I got on them a little bit about it, but I watched the tape and realized it was about business. When they’re on the field they’re doing exactly what they need to do, they’re paying attention and doing things the right way. And then they’d get off to the side and they’re kind of relaxed, which is great.

“So (Thursday) I went out, and I’ll be honest, I thought it was one of the more business-like practices we’ve had. But again, once they got to the sidelines they were having fun and letting their personalities show.”

Rivera has his superstitions. Earlier in the week he had media members get in their usual seats before he started his press conference for “mojo” reasons.

He hasn’t changed the lunch schedule or routines for meetings and walk-through practices, either. Rivera won’t change how his players act.

“That’s what’s gotten them where they are,” he said. “We’re where nobody expected us. We’re doing things the way we’ve been doing them.”

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