Panther Paw Prints: Saturday Edition

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Here's the latest batch of Panther news nuggets from around the web.

I'm not the only one on the Star bandwagon:

"Death Star" Lotulelei Might Be The NFL's Next Great Defensive Lineman
That ability to tackle while being blocked wasn't a fluke. Check out the Rams' second offensive play in Week 7, where Lotulelei takes down running back Zac Stacy while being blocked by Joe Barksdale. He doesn't just come off the block, he moves the blocker into position to where he can dump off Barksdale and move right into the tackle. He is a fucking beast.

Deadspin doesn't mince words.

Here's a couple prints on our 2012 DROY:

Sean Payton: 'Luke Kuechly has great awareness' - Sports Mole
The Saints head coach told reporters: "He is obviously playing extremely well. He's very active. He's around the football on every play. "He has great instincts and awareness. You can see him key in diagonals formationally as well as anyone. See formations and understand what he is going to have to defend. He is a great tackler. He is playing outstanding."

That's right coach and he is coming for your QB this Sunday. Kuechly does have his work cut out for him:

Panthers' Luke Kuechly faces tall task in Saints Jimmy Graham - Football Wires - MiamiHerald.com
"When I get to the spot, I've got to relax and go from there. It can't be rush (to) get there, rush (to) play him, rush (to) do this or that. Because that's when you get out of control," Kuechly said Thursday. "When I get to the spot and I'm in the right spot, I know what's going on then I've just got to relax, take a breath and get in a position to make a play on the ball instead of banging guys or doing whatever."

He played well against Gronk so let's see what he can keep Graham from killing us.

So did the Saints loss to the Seahawks last Monday Night help the Panthers?

Carolina Panthers - TeamReport | GlobalPost
While their embarrassing effort may give them something extra to prove against the Panthers, Rivera claimed the past won't be a factor. "No, because people play well and come out differently too. It's just a matter of who shows up come Sunday and we won't know until we kick off," Rivera said.

Rivera is right, the Saints are a much better team at home. More from Rivera, this on Newton:

Ron Rivera: 'Cam Newton has great understanding of game' - Sports Mole
"I think early on in his career, he played on his true, natural ability," the New Orleans Saints' official website quotes Rivera as saying. "I think, now he understands the offense even more he also understands the opponent even more. I think that's what has helped him. "He's been very efficient with the football, he's made a lot of good decisions. At times, he has managed the games and at times, he has taken the games over. It's just keeping him in his comfort level and the play-makers around him making plays when they've had to."

Rivera on the team:

Ron Rivera has Panthers on a roll | Sports | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, LA
"I think (the team) has gelled over a period of time," he said. "This team has gone through a lot. … Not just since I’ve been here, but before I got here. "We were able to get the type of players we were kind of looking for and I think we had three really good draft classes," Rivera added. "We’ve done well in free agency, and it’s kind of now all coming to fruition.

You may have seen this already but Mike Mitchell did clarify he was taken out of context when he called Drew Brees soft:

Mike Mitchell now doesn't think Drew Brees is soft - NFL.com
"I don't really think he's a soft player," Mitchell said Wednesday, per The Charlotte Observer. "Obviously he's a very, very, very good quarterback, and I have a lot of respect for what he's done as a player and what he's done in this league. "It was really just more of a comment on the rule changes. It was really a 15-minute interview where someone took 45 seconds and made an article out of it."

Rivera on the 1st coach getting canned of the season:

Panthers’ Rivera: Kubiak firing shows how quickly fortunes change | CharlotteObserver.com
"It’s tough. I feel bad for Gary," Rivera said. "Last year they did some really good things and got themselves into the playoffs and just kind of shows you how quick fortunes change. It’s unfortunate. Gary’s a very good football coach, he had some success there. It took them a while to build it but they got there. Sometimes some things are out of your control."

The Panthers lead the series with the Saints 19-17:

Carolina Panthers known to give New Orleans Saints fits: Jeff Duncan's First-and-10 | NOLA.com
1. Plucky Panthers The Falcons series receives more publicity but historically no division rival plays the Saints tougher than the Panthers. They own a 19-17 advantage in the overall series and have won nine of 17 games at the Superdome. In the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era, five of the games have been decided by a field goal or less. Interestingly, the Sunday night showdown is the first primetime matchup in series history.

Whatever the Panthers have been doing at halftime don't stop, it's working:

Carolina Panthers excel on either side of halftime | Beach Carolina Magazine
The Panthers have scored 8-of-12 times on their opening drive of the second half this season, including six touchdowns. And if you don’t count kneel-downs in the final seconds as possessions, they’ve scored on 9-of-12 drives to close out the first half, including seven touchdowns. How good is that? On 24 drives on either side of halftime, Carolina has totaled 103 points, or 4.3 points per possession. On their other 95 drives (not counting the three first-half kneel-downs or six victory-formation drives), the Panthers have totaled 182 points, or 1.9 points per possession.

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