Monday, September 9, 2013
Panthers' mood surprisingly upbeat
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The mood in the Carolina Panthers' locker room on Monday was unusually upbeat for a team that 24 hours earlier lost its opener and its starting right guard for the season.
There was a sense of confidence, a sense the team still can have a successful season. That wasn't fully there a year ago.
"Yes, there is disappointment in themselves,'' coach Ron Rivera said as he evaluated the 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. "I really felt in talking to a lot of guys they were disappointed in how certain things went on.
"The thing I told them is as we watch this tape, be honest. If you played 59 plays well and you played one play bad that one play should really eat at you. I think a lot of guys are going to respond the right way.''
Center Ryan Kalil said players understand more of what they have to do to be a winning team than they did this time a year ago during a 1-6 start.
"There's more of a feeling of what our identity is and what we can do and what we're capable of moving forward,'' he said. "The last couple of years [we were] still kind of unsure of where we're going, what we're doing.
"It doesn't feel like that this year. Obviously, it's not the ideal start to what we want to get done, but there were a lot of good things on film and a lot of things we saw that I'm not so sure we kind of knew what was going on early on last year.''
Losing right guard Garry Williams to a torn ACL/MCL in his left knee won't help. But the good news is Amini Silatolu, the starting left guard who missed the opener with a hamstring injury, is set to return to practice without restrictions on Wednesday.
And Chris Scott, who started at left guard before moving over to replace Williams, is more natural at right guard. He graded out perfectly in pass protection against Seattle from the right side.
So Carolina, with veteran Travelle Wharton in the mix, has a decent three-player rotation.
That Scott and Wharton helped the Panthers rush for 134 yards on 26 carries also was encouraging.
What disappointed Rivera was the number of mistakes and that they didn't come from one person that easily could be replaced.
"When you have 45 players and there is 130 plays, that means there is 45 bad plays,'' Rivera said. "Those are things we have to correct. The disappointment is not necessarily that we lost, but how we lost, that we didn't play smart football.
"That's what bothers me more than anything else, and I just expressed that to the players.''
They seemed to get it, because the mood was surprisingly upbeat.