NFC South: Mike Remmers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera understands the “next man up’’ mantra that he’ll have once again on Sunday when Derek Anderson replaces injured quarterback Cam Newton because in 1986 he was that man.

The Chicago Bears were preparing to face the Detroit Lions. Rivera was the backup to future Hall of Fame middle linebacker Mike Singletary, who had been hurt all week.

“Then Sunday prior to the game Mike went out and warmed up, so I didn’t think I was starting,’’ Rivera recalled on Friday. “So I was gearing up to play special teams.

“All of a sudden Coach [Mike] Ditka walked into the locker room and came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you’re starting. Don’t f--- it up.’ ’’

Rivera didn’t. He led the team in tackles with 10. He also had an assist in a 13-7 victory and wound up on the receiving end of a game ball from none other than Ditka.

The fourth-year Carolina coach expects Anderson to respond the same way in the 1 p.m. game against Tampa Bay with Newton sidelined with two small fractures in his lower back suffered in a Tuesday automobile accident.

Rivera admits he has seen more than his share of “next man up’’ situations this season. Some have turned out well. Some haven’t. Let’s take a look at a few of the significant ones:
  • Anderson replaced Newton, recovering from fractured ribs, in the opener at Tampa Bay. He completed 24 of 34 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns in the 20-14 victory.
  • With starting running back DeAngelo Williams out with an ankle injury and backup Jonathan Stewart a knee injury, Darrin Reaves started a Week 5 game against Chicago after spending the first two games on the practice squad. He had 35 yards on 11 carries.
  • Left tackle Byron Bell was inactive for a Thursday night game against New Orleans. Undrafted rookie David Foucault started. According to Pro Football Focus, Foucault allowed two sacks, a hit and five quarterback hurries. He has been inactive every game since.
  • Mike Remmers wasn’t on the roster for the first eight games. He became the starting right tackle when Nate Chandler was placed on injured reserve two games ago against Minnesota and on Sunday will make his third consecutive start. According to PFF, Remmers had a perfect grade in pass protection against the Vikings.
  • Andrew Norwell, an undrafted rookie, was inactive the first six games. He has started six straight games, the last three at left guard with Amini Silatolu out. He has played well enough that it will be hard for Silatolu to reclaim his spot when healthy.
  • Stewart replaced Williams this past Sunday at New Orleans. He rushed 20 times for 155 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown.

There are plenty of other examples as all but tight end Greg Olsen, center Ryan Kalil and wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin have missed a game among the 11 offensive starters.

The defense also has undergone its share of next-man-up scenarios with end Greg Hardy going on the commissioner’s exempt list before the third game and only strong safety Roman Harper among the four starters in the secondary from Week 1.

Rivera understands. He has lived it.

“Everybody has it,’’ Rivera said. “Every locker room that I’ve been in, whether as a player or a coach, I’ve always heard that. I’ve heard, ‘Hey, he’s down. All right, next man up. Let’s go.’ ’’

W2W4: Panthers vs. Vikings

November, 30, 2014
Three things to keep an eye on as the Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) face the Minnesota Vikings (4-7) at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m.
  • Newton
    Cam Newton: This is becoming a trend, and unfortunately the trend has been bad for the Carolina quarterback. He’s thrown at least one interception in seven straight games, tying a team record. His completion percentage the past five games is a paltry 53.9. He hasn’t thrown a first-half touchdown during that stretch, and the Panthers haven’t scored a first-half touchdown. That’s alarming. For the Panthers to be a factor in this game and for the rest of the season, Newton has to get off to a fast start and do a better job of game-management. It’s not all on Newton, though. The offensive line has to play better for him to have a chance. That he will have a new starting right tackle in Mike Remmers, who has played as a backup in one game in three years, won’t make that easy.
  • Philly Brown: The Panthers released veteran wide receiver Jason Avant, according to head coach Ron Rivera, so they can get the undrafted rookie Brown on the field more. Rivera hopes the speed Brown showed getting past the secondary for a 47-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter against Atlanta will force teams to get out of man-to-man coverage on a receiving corps that has struggled to get separation. If that happens, teams won’t be able to stack an extra player in the box to stop the run, which should help open up the overall offense.
  • The run defense: Minnesota will attempt to establish the run to take the pressure off rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings rank 13th in the NFL in rushing with 116.5 yards a game. The Panthers have held their past four opponents to just over 86 yards rushing a game. Making the Vikings one-dimensional and putting the pressure on Bridgewater to win the game will be key. It also will allow the Panthers to bring more pressure with the pass rush. Bridgewater already has been sacked 22 times in eight games.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Mike Remmers could pass for the Minnesota Vikings mascot “Ragnar’’ with another 4 inches of growth on his beard and a horned helmet.

The Carolina Panthers simply hope he can pass for a starting right tackle.

With guard-turned-tackle Amini Silatolu doubtful for Sunday’s game in Minneapolis, the journeyman lineman will make his first career start in the 1 p.m. game against the Vikings.

Who is this player who will help protect quarterback Cam Newton?

Good question.

Here’s what I know. He entered the NFL in 2012 with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie out of Oregon State. He was cut at the end of the preseason, and then signed to the Tampa Bay practice squad.

The San Diego Chargers signed him in October 2013. He made his NFL debut -- and currently only NFL playing time -- in Week 7. He suffered a high ankle sprain a few plays after replacing the starting left tackle and was cut three days later.

Minnesota signed Remmers in November 2013. He didn’t play a game. He was on the St. Louis Rams practice squad when the Panthers signed him in on Oct. 28 due to injuries on the offensive line.

He appeared headed for a backup role against the Vikings until Silatolu, preparing to replace starter Nate Chandler (injured reserve, knee), experienced soreness and swelling in his knee on Thursday. When Silatolu missed Friday’s practice, Remmers became the best option.

Need more? Here’s how Remmers, 25, described himself.

“I’m very hard working,’’ he said. “I’m smart. I do everything I possibly can to make the block. I’ve got good technique and listen well.’’

That Remmers spent time with the Vikings at least makes him ready for Sunday’s temperature, predicted to be in the mid-teens.

“I remember one time I got in my car and it was negative-17,’’ Remmers said. “Your mustache literally freezes immediately once you step outside.’’

Carolina coach Ron Rivera said Remmers has done a nice job in practice.

“We’ve watched the last few weeks with interest because of the situation we’ve had,’’ Rivera said of injuries on the line. “We’ve kind of been looking for the right opportunity to put him in this position.’’

Rivera added that Remmers’ technique stood out when the staff first evaluated him. He didn’t mention the scruffy beard that makes the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder mascot-worthy, but it stands out as well.

“I need to grow little handlebars,’’ Remmers said. “I’d really fit in then.’’

Buccaneers make roster moves

September, 1, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers initially appeared to be going thin at defensive tackle. But that changed Sunday afternoon.

The team announced it has claimed defensive tackle Chris Jones off waivers from Houston. The Bucs also claimed wide receiver Russell Shepard off waivers from Philadelphia. To make room for those two players, the Bucs released receiver Tiquan Underwood and waived linebacker Najee Goode.

The Bucs had been carrying just three defensive tackles on their original 53-man roster. But Jones gives the team some depth behind Gerald McCoy, Akeem Spence and Derek Landri. Jones was drafted in the sixth round by Houston this year out of Bowling Green.

Shepard was an undrafted free agent. He played college ball at Louisiana State, where he spent time as a receiver, running back and quarterback.

The Bucs also announced they signed cornerback Deveron Carr, offensive lineman Jace Daniels, linebacker Ka’lial Glaud, defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo, tight end Danny Noble, receiver Chris Owusu and tackle Mike Remmers to the practice squad.