Carolina coach Ron Rivera mentioned Holmes' quote Friday in the team meeting, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. By then, the players knew about it, as the ill-advised mark already had made the rounds. Rivera reportedly told the team that every player should be insulted, not just the defensive backs.
“The whole team should take it personal,” safety Mike Mitchell told the newspaper. “I like that Coach tries to do things like that. Always making it team, team, team. I think that’s very good, how he does that for us.”
The Panthers also remembered Antwan Barnes' anti-Panthers comment from earlier in the season. Before the Jets' Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets linebacker (now on injured reserve) was asked about Mario Williams' 4.5-sack performance against Carolina in Week 2. Barnes wasn't too impressed, saying, "It's the Panthers we're talking about."
Needless to say, the Jets have provided plenty of motivational fodder for the Panthers.
"Any time you get bulletin board material, it’s easy,” Mitchell told the Journal. “You grab it, snag it, they have it, our guys saw it and everyone’s aware of it now.”
Predictably, Jets coach Rex Ryan downplayed Holmes' remark, claiming it wasn't an insult. Ryan said Holmes was actually praising the Panthers' front seven, not taking a shot at the secondary.
"But, typical, if Santonio says it, it’s going to be blown up," Ryan said Friday. "But, certainly [he] didn’t mean [to] disrespect them. This might be the only defense in the league that’s in the top 10 in every category. So, that wasn’t it.
"But, hey, if they want to take a shot at Santonio, go for it, because shoot, he’s a competitor. I know he’s excited about playing. We’re all excited. We know how difficult it’s going to be, but again, we’ll see on Sunday if we’re up to the challenge or not."