Carolina Panthers

Coach Ron Rivera: Panthers changed calls with Saints’ Roman Harper in mind

Carolina Panthers safety Roman Harper talks about the Super Bowl experience during the player media availability session on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, Calif.
Carolina Panthers safety Roman Harper talks about the Super Bowl experience during the player media availability session on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, Calif. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

On Sunday, center Ryan Kalil speculated the reason the Carolina Panthers changed their offensive code words was because of all the on-field audio that TV broadcasts pick up.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera offered another reason for the change, and it has to do with a gray-haired friend now in New Orleans.

Rivera pointed to former Panthers players like veteran safety Roman Harper who knows Carolina’s offensive and defensive calls. After spending two seasons in Carolina, Harper rejoined the Saints this offseason and will face the Panthers twice in 2016.

“He’s now in New Orleans and I promise they probably put the spotlight on him with the rubber hose to get as much information as they can,” Rivera said. “He’s a smart guy, so we’ve had to do it on offense and defense. We’ve had to keep that in mind and we had to change a lot of things we had used in the past.”

Kalil said some of his friends will text him after games with what they thought they heard on the field. One of the most popular examples was Cam Newton’s “Even Janitor” call in last season’s finale against Tampa Bay.

The call prompted one player to ask if it was even real.

Rivera said he’s still not entirely sure if the call was real or not.

“I’ll be honest with you,” he said, “I think it was a dummy call. They won’t even tell me half the time. But I think it was a dummy call just to get everybody thinking, ‘Oh OK, whatever Even Janitor means.’ It’s funny because there is an art to it and there’s an art of deception to it as well. I think our quarterback’s pretty good at it.”

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