Tag:Ron Rivera
Posted on: September 2, 2011 9:37 am
Edited on: September 2, 2011 9:38 am
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Newton named starter, Clausen could be no. 3



Posted by Ryan Wilson

We've spent much of the preseason focused on the the battle for the backup job in Denver. It became clear early on that Kyle Orton would be the starter, despite offseason speculation that 2010 first-round pick Tim Tebow could ascend to the role. Instead,the storyline was Tebow vs. Brady Quinn with the winner getting the earpiece and clipboard on game days.

Meanwhile a more interesting backup quarterback competition was unfolding in Charlotte, where Cam Newton has been the unofficial starter since the moment he was taken with the first-overall pick in April. (The news became official Thursday night when it was printed on team letterhead and announced publicly by coach Ron Rivera.)

The contestants: Jimmy Clausen, the team's second-round pick a year ago who had about as rough a rookie season as could be dreamed up, and Derek Anderson, a 2007 Pro Bowler who fell on hard times in recent years with the Browns and the Cardinals.

In the Panthers' final preseason game against the Steelers, Anderson got the second-team snaps and took advantage of the opportunity. He finished the night 11 of 19 for 192 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to David Clowney. Clausen, on the other hand, had a forgettable effort. Details via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter and Carolina Growl writer Steve Reed:
Clausen had a disastrous night, throwing an interception on his first pass of the game and then fumbling a snap from center leading to a Steelers touchdown in the fourth quarter. He threw another pass that should have been picked off and was also sacked three times, including once on fourth down while the Panthers were in the red zone. He looked particularly slow moving around in the pocket after injuring his thigh last Thursday night against Cincinnati.

It was the first time this preseason that Anderson was the second quarterback into the game and could signal the Panthers are more comfortable with him being Newton's primary backup since he's more familiar with (offensive coordinator) Rob Chudzinski's offense.
Anderson came to Carolina from Arizona, but he has experience in Chudzinski's offense during their time together in Cleveland.

"The thing about that is Derek is a guy that doesn't need a lot of reps in this offense," Rivera said, via Reed. "At the same time, if something were to happen, he's a guy that because he doesn't need a lot of reps in this offense could probably help us. So we are most certainly going to take a look at that and see where that fits with what we want to do offensively."

As for the news that Newton will be under center when the Panthers take the field on September 11 at Arizona, Rivera sounded optimistic.

"We are looking forward to him being our starter," Rivera said. "He's going to grow as our starter and we're going to grow as a football team. The thing that has to happen is that we as a football team have to grow and it's not just about him. It's about the rest of growing with our system... I want to make this clear again: We didn't draft Cam to be our savior, we drafted him to help lead this football team. He will be our starter on opening day."

Pretty sure the fans don't see it this way, but that's what happens when the team struggles to go 2-14 the year before. For his part, Newton said all the right things about winning the job.

"That's a big opportunity and a big responsibility," he said. "To be a starter in this league there is so much that goes into it behind the scenes and I've got to be ready for that."

It turned out to be a dreadful night for former Notre Dame quarterbacks trying to climb NFL depth charts. In Denver, Quinn got the start and went 4 for 12 for 26 yards and an interception. If there's a silver lining it's this: because of the new game-day roster rules, teams no longer have to name an emergency third quarterback.

So should Rivera replace Newton, he could use either Anderson or Clausen at any point during the game. In theory, both players are co-backups. The reality -- at least after Clausen's performance against the Steelers -- is that he has the No. 3 job sewn up.

But, hey, the regular season hasn't even started. A lot can change in the coming weeks and months.  After all, the Browns drafted Quinn as their franchise quarterback in 2007 and that season Anderson led the team to 10 wins and he made the Pro Bowl. This game is crazy like that.

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Posted on: August 21, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2011 11:26 pm
 

Cam Newton very close to winning Panthers job

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Quarterback Cam Newton, the Pathers first-overall pick in April, got his first NFL start in Carolina's Week 2 preseason game against Miami. He played the entire first half and completed 7 of 14 passes for 66 yards.

And while Newton is going through many of the growing pains rookie quarterbacks experience as they transition from college to the NFL (the speed of play, better competition, more complex defenses, etc.), there was still reason to believe that he could earn the starting job in the regular season. Partly because the Panthers were just 2-14 a season ago, but also because the organization feels that Newton is the future, even though they drafted Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the 2010 draft.

Well, various reports Sunday indicate that that the future is now in Carolina.

CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Steve Reed writes that "Newton will be Carolina's regular-season starter providing he doesn't suffer a complete meltdown Thursday night against the Bengals. 'It will give us an opportunity to see how he'll handle the whole game experience, and we'll go from there,' Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said."

NFL Network analyst and former Raiders front office man Michael Lombardi tweets that "Newton will start and play 3 quarters [in Thursday's preseason game], leaving little doubt he will be the opening day starter for the Panthers."

Finally, the Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler weighs in on his blog:
Coach Ron Rivera edged in that direction Sunday afternoon without going all the way, saying Newton will start and play the first three quarters in the Panthers' third exhibition -- Thursday night at Cincinnati. Jimmy Clausen will likely play all or most of the fourth quarter.

In other words, if Newton doesn't mess things up too badly, he's the starter from here on out. But Rivera isn't saying that yet -- he's hedging a little, which is probably smart given that he doesn't have to make this decision yet. The Panthers will use this week as a dress rehearsal for a real game -- actually game-planning for Cincinnati, which they haven't done in the first two preseason games.
Fowler points out that in roughly four quarters of preseason football over two games, Newton has yet to lead the Panthers on a touchdown drive or convert a single third down.

But at this stage of the proceedings that's not really the point. Newton looks like an NFL QB. And we don't mean that he's 6-5, 240 pounds, and has a howitzer for a right arm. We're talking about the way he carries himself while on the field, in the huddle, under center and staring down a pass rush; Newton seldom appears overwhelmed. Relatively speaking, he seems pretty comfortable, and that will only improve over time.

Fair or not, we never got that feeling with Clausen last season. Perhaps he was thrust into an untenable situation. Or maybe he was overdrafted. Whatever the case, the franchise's future rests with Newton, and it sounds like Rivera isn't going to waiting around to install him as the starter.

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Cam Newton will start Friday vs. Dolphins

NewtonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Cam Newton, it’s now your time to be in the spotlight.

OK, you’ve already been in the spotlight quite a bit these past few months. Let’s rephrase. Cam Newton, it’s now your time to make an NFL start.

That was the word Wednesday from Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who said after practice that Newton will start Friday’s game vs. the Dolphins.

That’s via Rapid Reporter Steve Reed, who quotes Rivera saying, “It's pretty much following the line of what we had planned throughout training camp, and that's to go back and forth and back and forth with our guys. It's a good opportunity."

That said, Rivera doesn’t know who will start Carolina’s season opener against the Cardinals. He’s not ready to make THAT decision quite yet. But he started Jimmy Clausen in the preseason opener and then brought Newton in to work with the first-teamers midway through the half, and now, he’s going to do the exact opposite thing Friday.

“We want to make sure everybody gets a chance to play and work with the guys and keep that competition going,” Rivera said.

In that first game, Clausen completed 4 of 7 passes for 69 yards, a touchdown and an interception while Newton’s accuracy was off (he was 8 for 19 for 134 yards). He’s hoping he can make a better impression when he’s the first Panthers quarterback to take the field Friday. And perhaps even solidify his chances of starting the regular season?

“Just know that we have a plan and we're sticking to it,” Rivera said. “And as we go through the process sometime next week, we'll have a real good feel for what we're going to do as we go into the regular season.”

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 10:39 am
Edited on: August 16, 2011 11:02 am
 

Rivera to name Panthers starter by Bengals game

Posted by Will Brinson

In the third week of the preseason, the Carolina Panthers will face off against the Cincinnati Bengals. Who'll be starting at quarterback for that game isn't just anyone's guess -- it's everyone's guess.

That's because, according to head coach Ron Rivera, the starter for that game will be the Panthers starter for the regular season.

Some folks are saying it should/will be Cam Newton. Others believe it should/will be Jimmy Clausen. There's a tiny Ron Paul-like contingent screaming for Derek Anderson. (OK, I haven't heard them, but surely they're out there.)

For now, Rivera is staying mum on what he's thinking. But give him credit, because he really does seem to have the "only speak in vagaries" thing that was so popular for head coaches prior to Rex Ryan bursting on the scene.

"It's all the same. We're going to continue to do that until we make that decision," Rivera said, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.
Panthers Preseason

See? What does that even mean? Nothing is what.

Speaking of meaning nothing, don't read too much into Newton likely starting the second week of the preseason against the Dolphins. I mentioned this yesterday when I hopped on the horn with our friend Bob Haynie of 105.7 the Fan, but you can go ahead and mark Newton to take the field with the first team during the upcoming trip to South Beach.

Rivera's said all along that his intention is to divide the "practice reps" available on a strict 50/50 split between Newton and Clausen; that Clausen started and then Newton saw the majority of playing time against the Giants should be indicative of exactly what will happen in the next game, only in reverse.

Our Panthers Rapid Reporter Steve Reed confirms that Newton is indeed running with the first-teamers in practice, which is a logical lead-in to the fact that he'll start for the Panthers on Friday.

As for who'll take the first offensive snap against the Bengals, well, that's still up in the air.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:25 pm
 

Hot Routes 8.10.11: Ron Rivera says he owes fans



Posted by Ryan Wilson
  • It's with a heavy heart that Steelers Lounge suggests the team should extend linebacker Lawrence Timmons' contract now and wait until after the 2011 season to revisit safety Troy Polamalu.
  • Colts blog 18to88.com busts out the abacus to support the notion that Randy Moss was, in fact, The Quarterback Maker. (And no, this doesn't mean that Moss might be headed to Indy. We think.)
  • PFT's Michael David Smith, Lions fan and friend of the Eye-on-Sports blog, must be having flashbacks: Detroit is bringing in Matt Millen's son-in-law for a workout.
  • Related: just in case it wasn't obvious, new Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has a message for you, Carolina supporters: “Our fans, we owe them after being 2-14 last season which was not acceptable.”
  • More evidence that the NFL and Arena League are completely different games (in case you couldn't make that out by the shorter field, padded sidelines, and funny-looking football): video of an Arena League fan keeping a player from returning a kick and then getting high-fives from the other team. James Harrison body slams these people.
  • Shutdown Corner's Chris Chase pretty much captures the essence of this story with the very first sentence of his post: "Dallas Cowboys rookie Phillip Tanner is trying to make the leap from the concession stand to the locker room."
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Posted on: August 9, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Jimmy Clausen tops Panthers first depth chart

Posted by Will Brinson

One of the more interesting quarterback battles to watch this preseason will be Jimmy Clausen and recently-made-rich rookie Cam Newton, as they battle out for the top spot on the Panthers depth chart.

For now, Clausen appears to be winning, as he topped the Panthers first "unofficial depth chart" released by the team on Tuesday.

That's not a guarantee for the majority of playing time, however, as coach Ron Rivera indicated Tuesday that they could flip-flop between starters throughout the preseason.

"We want to see how each guy looks with each offensive line," Rivera said. "It would be unfair to have one guy with the ones, one guy with the twos, one guy play against a one defense, the other guy play against a two defense and say one looks better.

"So we're most certainly going to mix and match, and we have to so it's a fair competition."

Panthers Preseason

Rivera also made it clear he hadn't picked a starter for the preseason opener against the Giants.

"No," Rivera said when asked about the starter for Saturday's game. "We're going to meet tonight as far as that is concerned in terms of who's going to play where, what the depth chart will be and what the number of plays will be."

So, in other words, it means very little that Clausen is currently on top of the depth chart. And it may mean even less if he ends up starting against the Giants.

All that matters, one has to assume, is in-game production. And we already know who's to blame for that.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:28 am
 

Smith points finger at Fox for dwindling output

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It wasn't long ago that the Panthers' Steve Smith was considered one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the game. In recent years, however, his output has fallen off a cliff. He hauled in 78 passes for 1,421 yards in 2008 only to see his yards receiving drop by 439 yards from 2008 to 2009, and it dropped another 428 yards from '09 to '10 (to a six-year low of 554).

Smith's dwindling production coincides with Carolina's three-year slide from playoff team to one of the worst outfits in the league. Also not helping: the revolving door at quarterback; Jake Delhomme was released after the 2009 season, and Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen combined for two wins in 2010. Now it's only a matter of time before 2011 first-overall pick Cam Newton finds the field.

It's a culmination of all these things, as well as the conservative system former head coach John Fox seemed to favor -- not Smith's age -- that had everything to do with decidedly pedestrian numbers. At least that's the story Smith's telling.

"I respect coach Fox and I respect the offensive coordinators that have been here," Smith said, according to the Charlotte Observer. "But at the same time I'm a wide receiver. Run blocking is not my forte.

"It is nice to have layers, have multiple sets, not to just be stacking to one spot for 70 plays," Smith said of Carolina's new offense now under the direction or Rob Chudzinski. "I get to line up in different spots. It's just refreshing. It's not saying, 'Well, we're going to move you around,' and then never do it. Here they're actually saying it and it's happening. It's not just me. It's other guys as well."

The Panthers are making a conscious decision to move away from Fox's run-first scheme. Last week the organization traded for former Bears tight end Greg Olsen, and Newton wasn't selected first overall to hand the ball off.

"The quarterbacks are doing what has not been done around here in a long time. The philosophy in years past has been not to screw it up," Smith said. "And here it's put your foot down on the gas pedal and go hard. So I like that."

One of the liberating things about going 2-14 in 2010 is that there isn't much pressure on the Panthers in 2011. New head coach Ron Rivera isn't yet on the hot seat (though we imagine it's only a matter of time), and expectations couldn't be lower. In that sense, it's a great time to be a Carolina fan. (Okay, that was a bit much, even for us.)

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Posted on: July 16, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Steve Smith regrets not really knowing rookies

Posted by Will Brinson

From the get-go in 2010, it was kind of obvious that Steve Smith wasn't a big fan of Jimmy Clausen. It's hard to blame him, because Clausen's ascension to the role of starter meant a serious step back for the passing game.

But perhaps there's another underlying issue that's part of Smith's makeup? Well, maybe -- Smith talked to Yahoo! Sports' Doug Farrar recently, and indicated that over the last decade, he's purposely avoided becoming close with rookies. 

"One of the things I would like to accomplish is that for the last 10 years, I really haven't talked to a lot of rookies through training camp," Smith said. "It's really hard, because a lot of those guys get cut. I can remember that almost all of the wide receivers we drafted or were undrafted — there was a guy named Kevin Coffey from Virginia, and after he got cut, it was very difficult, because we hung out for so long.

Smith's Saga in Charlotte


"So, I didn't talk with a lot of the rookies and free agents until after final cuts, because I just didn't want to get emotionally attached. That's one thing I lost out on — there's probably about 10 or 12 guys over the last 10 years, but I've missed out on [developing relationships with] a lot of those rookies."

The full interview with Smith over at Shutdown Corner is absolutely worth reading. You can tell he's entering a phase of his career where he wants to move forward from past mistakes, but also finds himself looking back in an introspective fashion.

Seriously -- I'm not trying to over-blow it, but Smith opens up a ton with Farrar, and it's fascinating to see such a fiery, emotional competitor clearly at a career (and life) crossroads.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com