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Panthers coach Ron Rivera on facing the New Orleans Saints

Quotes from Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera's conference call with the New Orleans media on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014

Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera
Conference Call with Local Media
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Can you talk about what Roman Harper brings to your defense?

"He's tremendous.  He's been outstanding for us in terms of helping us establish a personality as to who we are.  He has been great with our young DBs.  He really has.  We have a group of young safeties that will certainly learn from him and they are.  He's done a great job with that and just his overall knowledge.  He has done a tremendous job in terms of his feel and understanding of the game."

Do you like to target free agents or players that have played within a division?

"Not necessarily, it just so happened that one of the positions in need for us was safety and there were two guys in our division (Roman Harper and Thomas DeCoud) that were both available that both fit the bill for us and what we were looking for.  We were happy to grab them.  It turns out that his background and his knowledge, his understanding of New Orleans, their offense, their defense, their culture, those are types of things that help.  It was fortuitous that he was available."

What have you seen that has made the Saints run game work so well?

"I think again, just the fact that anytime you are throwing the ball you are throwing the ball well, it opens things up.  Again, a lot of it has to do with their quarterback and his ability to throw the ball and his ability to see things.  It looks like a lot of things that they do he controls.  I like the development of their offensive line.  I think their offensive line looks even more stout than the group they had last year, (with) a little more consistency than the group they had last year.  I think it is a mix of things.  It's all developing and growing.  I think the running backs are guys that are a good group.  I think (Mark) Ingram has shown that he is a quality back in this league.  I think he is going to get bigger and better and stronger."

What has been your message to the team to try and move past the loss this past week?

"We have to.  That is all there is to it.  That is the truth to the matter.  We have to move past it and start looking forward.  I am looking forward to what this game means.  This means that the winner has an edge in the division and will have one of the tiebreakers initially.  It is an important game and we all understand that."

Are you surprised at all how the division has played out to this point?

"No, I've been in other division races that are very similar to this.  It just happens.  Divisions go up and down.  Teams go up and down.  Probably the only consistency that's been in this league has been New England and Denver right now, Denver with Peyton Manning and Indianapolis when Peyton was there and New England.  Those would probably be the three main constants that there have been in this league (over the years)."

What was your impression of the Saints-Packers game Sunday night?

"It was kind of the tale of two halves.  They were battling it out, doing a nice job and then all of a sudden the Saints made some nice plays on defense and had a couple of big plays of the offensive side and they got control of the game and ran with it.  Again, literally ran with it. I think it is just one of those things of who makes the least mistakes has the opportunity to win and the team that doesn't make the mistakes and capitalizes on yours are going to win games and that's what happened."

Can you talk about what Kelvin Benjamin has brought to your offense?

"One of the things he has that's an intangible he has and that's size.  He has tremendous size and great hands.  He has a really great feel for what we do and how we do it.  He's still a rookie and growing.  One thing is, he is not intimidated by being in the league.  I think he knows and understands though that he has a long way to go.  He has played against some very savvy veterans at a lot of times and he is learning how to deal with that. He is also learning how to mature and grow and understands what it takes to be in pro in this league."

How have you all adjusted without Jordan Gross?

"We were in flux obviously losing Jordan.  We lost three other veteran lineman that all retired at the same time, Travelle Wharton, Geoff Hangartner and Jeff Byers along with Jordan.  We had four veteran guys all retire at the same time on us.  We were in a little bit of alert to try and find answers.  We're young.  We are a group of young guys but Byron (Bell) has been playing well when he is healthy.  Last week was a tough one on him with the injury and trying to play through it and then (Nate) Chandler with the injury trying to play through it as well.  We are in flux, like I said, trying to figure out the combination, trying to develop the guys as we go along through the season.  That is kind of the way it is going to be."

What did you all like about Trai Turner?

"I will tell you what now, it is unfortunate that he got hurt because the young man has been playing very well for us and doing some really good things.  His strength and forte, at least we thought it was when watching him on tape, was his ability to run block and low and behold one of the things he really worked on and focused on was becoming a better pass blocker.  He seemed to be headed in that direction and unfortunately he got hurt.  But he brings a lot of energy to the group.  He's the youngest guy obviously.  He is very young actually but he is very professional. He is a young man that is mature beyond his age.  I think he has done a great job in terms of preparing yourself and getting ready to play this season.  I think again as we go forward he should continue to grow and get better and better."

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