Speaking Tuesday morning after his team’s first organized team activities session, Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera knew that there were 107 days between then and Carolina’s Week 1 tilt against the Denver Broncos.
That means there’s plenty of time to knock off the rust from Tuesday.
“I want to make sure we understand the sense of urgency,” Rivera said. “I don’t want to be out here saying, ‘Oh we’ll pick it up when it’s time.’ The message out here is you don’t start from where you finish, you start from the beginning. That’s what we’re doing. We’re starting from the beginning and we’re going to work our way up.”
Rivera said there was plenty he liked during the first OTA session, but there was also plenty the defending NFC champs need to work on.
The coach wasn’t exactly calling out quarterback Cam Newton, but it was apparent that Newton didn’t pick up where he left off in his MVP-winning season.
“He was rusty. He threw some really good balls, made some good decisions but at the same time he threw some bad balls and his decisions, a couple of them were a little bit late,” Rivera said. “He’s rusty and everybody’s going to be rusty. (Derek Anderson) was, Joe Webb was. As a unit they’re coming along very nicely.”
Newton made plenty of on-point throws, but his most glaring error came during a 9-on-9 session. Newton looked to his left and tried to locate Brenton Bersin, but the quarterback was late on the throw and was easily intercepted by linebacker Shaq Thompson.
“I’m not putting anybody on blast,” Rivera said. “I’m just challenging him that he can become a better football player.”