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Carolina Panthers Conference Calls

Audio and transcripts from head coach Ron Rivera and LB Luke Kuechly's conference calls with local media

Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How have your young corners rebounded after the Atlanta game, playing better against Tampa Bay last week?

"There is a lot more to what happened with Atlanta. I think there are a lot of people that do not understand what happened in Atlanta, other than the fact that Julio (Jones) played very well, but I think this (past week) is a little bit more indicative of how these young guys are developing and growing. I think their doing a really good job for us. I know there are some things that we have to shore up as a defense, but having said that I think those guys are developing very nicely and really are solid young players, that have an opportunity to play in this league."

I'm assuming they know that Drew Brees and that high powered offense will be a challenge on Sunday?

"Very much so and I assume they understand that. All you have to do is watch the tape, it is scary. They have some talent, they really do and again it starts with the quarterback, Drew Brees is a tremendous triggerman. I do like who Brandin Cooks is and Willie Snead. I think those two guys are terrific receivers and then you throw in the mix Michael Thomas and what he's done for them and I mean he (Drew Brees) uses all of his targets. Coby Fleener's a dangerous tight end, as is Josh Hill's a good receiver, their backs out of the backfield (are good). I mean he has a full complement of weapons and we as a football team have to be ready for it."

This will be the ninth time you are coaching a Sean Payton-led team, do you find yourself changing things up since it's a familiar guy?

"We gameplan according to who we play and again we have to look at some things. I mean we know Roman Harper is over there, so we have to do some things that are going to be a little bit different, obviously because of him (Roman Harper) and to me you gameplan who you are playing then and the things they do."

So it is nothing about knowing Sean Payton's tendencies? You just kind of deal with the personnel and move forward?

"You basically deal with what your gameplan material tells you. You've got scouting reports and stuff like that."

What makes Greg Olsen tick? What makes him one of the better overall tight ends in this league?

"I think, first of all, the tight end position's really part of our offense. Having said that, I know the tight end's part of what the Saints offense is. They went out and got Coby Fleener. First of all, they have to be a part of what you want to do, and then obviously, you need to have some talent, some quickness, good hands and an understanding and working knowledge of football. I think Greg (Olsen) is one of those guys that has a real good feel for the game, and understands what it takes to be successful as a tight end in this league. "

What is the overall psyche of the team, having lost three in a row? How are the players handling things?

"So far, so good. They understand and we're a team that has been in tough situations before. The biggest thing that we most certainly have to do is focus in and stay focused on what the task at hand is, and that is playing one game at a time and focusing in on that one game."

Carolina Panthers Linebacker Luke Kuechly
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Defensively from two weeks ago till now, how much have you guys been able to erase that Atlanta game and zero in on the Saints considering they are a pretty potent offense typically?

"It was a learning experience for us a couple of weeks ago. They (Atlanta) have a pretty good offense similar to what you have down in New Orleans, an experienced quarterback that knows what he's doing and can make a lot of good throws, so we just have to plan our responsibilities, make sure we understand what we're doing. There's a lot to learn from that last game. I think there are a lot of similarities between the two teams, obviously Matt and Drew both being smart guys what know exactly what they're doing. I think in New Orleans Brandin Cooks is a guy who is explosively dynamic and (Coby) Fleener is a guy who is going to be successful for them. They've had a lot of success with tight ends down there and we just have to make sure we know what we're doing."

How do you see those young corners you have coming along so far?

"They're doing a good job. They play hard, they learn, they take coaching and I think as they continue to get opportunities in games they're only going to get better."

This Saints-Panthers series regardless of record always seems to be tight. How challenging is it when you face a team so many times twice a year to do some different wrinkles they haven't seen before to try to get a win?

"There's always some new stuff you can throw in. Obviously gameplans always differ and things are going to change. You're going to try to throw a wrinkle in here and there but most teams stay relatively the same on both sides of the ball. You're going to have a good familiarity with personnel on their team and what they like to do on offense. There's going to be some stuff in there that's a little different. For the most part each of us have an understanding about what each of us like to do."

Have you seen the Saints go with four wide receivers a little bit more than in the past now that they have Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead IV and Michael Thomas?

"They have the luxury of being able to spread the ball out to a lot of good players. You mentioned those three guys and you have two tight ends (Coby Fleener and Josh Hill) who can catch the ball  really well and Mark Ingram's a good player too. I think it's whoever they're drawing the plays up for. I think it's whoever's open. I think Drew goes through his reads. I don't think he's picking guys to throw the ball to. I think he understands where the defender's trying to go and where the play's designed to go."

You mentioned tight ends and you get to practice against a guy like Greg Olsen. What separates him from other guys around the league?

"I think he's very talented. He understands the game of football very well. I think he works really hard. Football's really important to him. I think he's crafty with his routes and he's competitive and wants to be really good. That's what you look for in a football player. A guy who loves the game, a guy who's smart. A guy that takes pride in what he does and a guy who adds ways to get the job done. He does a great job."

You probably don't lock up against him in practice, but what are some of the challenges when you are on defense and are against a guy like that in practice.

"He runs his routes well. I think he understands coverage. He understands leverage. I think he understands where there are voids in defenses. I think he's crafty in how he runs his routes. He knows what defenses are trying to do to him and understands how to break leverage and stem guys the right way. He does a great job of uncovering."

While the casual fan watching this game might say 1-3 vs. 1-4, struggling teams, not the kind of game I want to watch this weekend, why might that be based on what you know about the two clubs and being early in the season, why might that be an unwise viewing option?

"I think we were in a situation similar to this a few years ago. We started out 1-3 and we get things turned around and the same can be said for New Orleans. Anytime you have a guy like Drew Brees on your team and an offense as potent as they are, anything's possible. Two teams that are excited at what they're doing and they're both looking to get back on track."

Are you sensing any desperation is cliché but it has to be kind of a surprising start given where you were last year?

"You don't expect to start this way but it's a situation we are in now and it's all about how you're going to respond from it and we intend to work hard, practice hard, prepare well and go out there and play our best football."

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