Panthers Rivera: 'Potential' Can Be a Scary Word

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 25: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers breaks free for a 26-yard run in the first half of an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) has a nice Q & A with Rivera that gets to heart of a number of burning issues at the moment. The first question is obviously at QB and the potential in rookie QB Cam Newton:

On his review of the tape from the Cincinnati Bengals game: Any time you get an opportunity to put the tape on, you see things that are promising and then you see some things that are bothering. We talked about the same thing coming off of Miami, we're a player, we're a circumstance away from things happening and being positive. We came out the first drive defensively, we had a couple of third downs and chances to get off the field right away - we didn't do it. Then we got a takeaway. Offensively, we made a couple of things happen. Cam threw the ball high twice. If he brings those down, those are good completions for us. The biggest thing that came out of it was seeing what his potential can be. I know potential is a scary word, but the young man just continues to progress and did some really good things. When we watched the tape, we came away feeling good about what we could be on offense. Then defensively, we were a little disappointed that we didn't take advantage of some of the opportunities we had.

More some reason I'm not feeling his context here is 'scary good' but instead 'scary risky'. But I agree I think the kid will dial in most of the those passes in time. That is definitely a more positive spin than I could give the team as a whole at the moment. I think the offense was more than a couple bad passes from putting pressure on the Bengals after the 2nd quarter.

Continuing with Newton, given Clausen is nursing a leg injury it would seem Cam is destined to start the season opener.

On what else he is looking for from Cam Newton before he names a starting quarterback for the regular season: The big thing, obviously, is to see how he continues to handle everything. We have to really study him and watch him. We've got to make sure he's progressing in the right direction. This is a very sincere thing for us. We don't want to just say, "You're the guy," and walk away from it and go from there. At the same time, we want him to understand that he is working toward being our guy.

Boy he sure seems to be dancing around giving straight praise to the guy, which I admit is hard to do when your not playing well as a team. I've got to put some faith that when it counts these coaches will put the Panthers in a better position to win then we have seen in the preseason. They are smart guys, less stubborn and much more inventive than the last bunch.

Back on Clausen I like the fact Rivera did not hide his disappointment in the offensive line for letting the QB take a pounding:

On being upset with the offensive line after Clausen got hurt: When it happens, especially in a situation or circumstances like that, you know they're coming after you. You've got to play better. I was a little disappointed that we didn't protect him better. And those are things that bother me. We are better than that. There are some things to me that aren't acceptable, and I just felt I had to handle it that way.

We've got roster insight and injury updates ...after the jump

An update on the lingering injuries to date:

On if tackle Geoff Schwartz (hip) and fullback Tony Fiammetta (concussion) could be placed on injured reserve: It's hard to say. With Schwartz, we're waiting for him to turn the corner with that hip, hopefully. Then with Tony, we're waiting for him to clear up. We'll see. We've got to go through the protocol with the injuries, and that's what is happening right now.

Losing Schwartz looks like the most painful loss at the moment. Both Byron Bell and Duke Robinson have had their moments this preseason but neither had won the job yet. I'd like Tony F back but I think Rashawn Jackson or the Brockel kid could fill in for the time being.

For those that were wondering whether the Panthers would even keep a FB, Rivera answers that definitively:

On if he intends to keep at least one fullback on the roster: Absolutely, most certainly.

He didn't mention TE Ben Hartsock playing the position so I assume he means a true fullback will be retained.

Moving on to the recently signed DT Kentwan Balmer, Rivera confirms our suspecions for why the Panthers signed the twice-cut NC native:

On signing defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer: Here's a guy that came out of North Carolina and played in a 4-3 defense. He got a drafted by a team that played a 3-4 and traded to a team that played a 3-4. As we looked at him, we thought this was a young man that might have been playing out of position. We think he might be a little bit of a 3, a tilt nose for us as well, a guy that's a gap control player. With his size and his athleticism, we're hoping that translates and can fit into what we want to do.

He and thousands of Panther fans hope it translates. If he didn't already, Balmer should realize his window to make an impact in the NFL is closing fast. On the positive he's entering his 4th season and should physically primed to finally make the jump to NFL starter-quality player. He will certainly get the chance.

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