For at least the past two weeks, Panthers coach Ron Rivera has kept a countdown in his head of Carolina’s season opener against the Denver Broncos.
He yelled multiple times at his players at the end of Tuesday’s session of mandatory minicamp that their mistakes weren’t going to cut it with 86 days between then and their date with the Broncos.
It was the most passionate address Rivera has made to his team in the presence of the media this offseason.
“We’ve got a group of young guys that are going to get opportunities on this football field and they’ve been doing these things for several weeks,” Rivera said, “and to see the mistakes made on very basic things disappoints me more than anything else.
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“I just wanted to make sure that they understood that, and I reminded them that we play in 86 days.”
In the eyes of the Panthers, this week’s minicamp is no different than the previous three weeks of organized team activities. Tuesday’s session was the 10th of 12 practices, Rivera said.
“We’re not treating it like it’s a minicamp that’s real special,” Rivera said. “The only thing that’s special about the minicamp is we had physicals on Monday and these three practices are mandatory.”
But the mistakes came on both sides of the field. A false start in offensive line drills, a neutral zone infraction by the defense on a Cam Newton hardcount, a fumble on a sweep and more all came Tuesday.
“We’ve got to go harder. It’s the first day, hot, guys are a little taken by that. You can let it get in the way,” third-year safety Tre Boston said. “We expect more. And that’s the truth. I expect more, we should all expect more. From guys who went to the Super Bowl and didn’t finish it, we have a chip. All of us.
“We want to go back and work our hardest and do everything we did last year. But we have to work for it. We can’t just show up to practice every day and lollygag around and think you’re going to make it to the Super Bowl. We worked hard for it last year and we’ve got to remember that going into training camp.”