Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Miami distractions won't distract Panthers
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers are determined not to be distracted by the distractions in Miami.
Good idea. The fact that Dolphins players are being questioned this week by NFL investigators over the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal has nothing to do with Carolina's six-game winning streak other than Miami is the next opponent.
"That's something they'll have to deal with and cope with,'' Carolina coach Ron Rivera said as he looked ahead to Sunday's game at Miami. "That's one thing we as a football team are not going to focus on. We're going to focus on what they do on the football field.''
Another good idea. The Dolphins, despite the distractions, defeated San Diego on Sunday to remain an AFC playoff contender at 5-5.
The Panthers (7-3) must remain focused on keeping within reach of the New Orleans Saints (8-2) in the NFC South. They also can't look ahead to playoffs or get caught up in talk that they're Super Bowl contenders.
"No,'' Rivera said. "We're getting ready for Miami. We're not getting ahead of ourselves. We're going to take it one game at a time. We know Miami's situation. It could be very easy for us to overlook a team like that, and they don't deserve that.
"We can't overlook anybody. We are not that relevant where we can do that.''
Trouble at corner? Rookie cornerback Melvin White had a few moments that Rivera described as "scary'' during Monday night's 24-20 victory over New England.
Tom Brady certainly appeared to have targeted the undrafted player out of Louisiana-Lafayette, completing three passes for 28 yards against him on his opening drive and five for 65 yards in the first half. White was much sounder in the second half, although he did give up an 11-yard completion and commit a holding penalty on a the opening possession of the third quarter that enabled New England to pull even at 10-10.
But Rivera, who benched cornerbacks Josh Thomas and Josh Norman earlier in the season when they made mistakes, doesn't sound as quick to give up on White.
"Melvin played it the way we wanted him to,'' Rivera explained. "We wanted him to keep it in front of us. One of the things that happens, when you get impatient with Tom Brady is when you make mistakes.''
Most of White's mistakes weren't huge like the deep passes Thomas allowed that cost him the job.
"I know he's a young football player,'' Rivera said of White. "But hey, there's no rookies out there. He's played too much to let those things happen. So what we've tried to do, we tried to put him in position where he can get help underneath or he's the guy up over the top.
"As we went into the game, further into it, he played the techniques we wanted. There was a little point where he got a little scary there for a second. But he settled in and kept it in front of him.''