Inside the Panthers

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera rips defense for early mental lapse

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was not amused by a mental lapse by his defense in Saturday’s practice.
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was not amused by a mental lapse by his defense in Saturday’s practice. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

It didn’t take Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera long to lay into the defense with a loud rebuke about its lack of focus.

And it didn’t take long for the crowd on the hill at Wofford’s practice fields Saturday to respond with a loud cheer.

Rivera has made it his mission to combat any sign of complacency following the Panthers’ Super Bowl season of 2015. So when a substitution left the defense without a safety during a running drill early in practice, Rivera stepped in and voiced his displeasure.

“It wasn’t good enough. We weren’t ready to play football and that’s baloney,” Rivera said. “I told the offense if it happens again, just snap the ball. They’ve got to know who’s in, what their calls are and get themselves lined up. That’s not acceptable, so I let them know it.”

Rivera tried to set an aggressive tone during the first full-pads practice by gathering his team at midfield and having several defensive linemen square off against offensive linemen in 1-on-1 pass-rushing drills.

Other than the mental lapse by the defense, Rivera thought it was a good day.

“I liked the energy for the most part. I thought the guys did some good things,” he said. “We always talk about guys being consistent and we could have been a little bit better. But there were some really good things, good individual efforts out there.”

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