Carolina Panthers' Ron Rivera keeps calm after hits on Cam Newton

By The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 8, 2016 at 1:00 PM
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As many spend another Monday breaking down a Carolina Panthers' game like it's the Zapruder film, coach Ron Rivera again exercised restraint when pressed about how officials handle his most important player.

Less than a week after Rivera and quarterback Cam Newton talked with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about their concerns, Newton took at least two more helmet-to-helmet hits during the Panthers' 13-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Outside linebacker Mark Barron and defensive tackle Aaron Donald were not penalized for the hits that occurred while Newton was taking a sack in the pocket.

"I think there were a lot of things that they missed on both sides and a lot of things they got right on both sides. But that's the nature of the game and it happens," Rivera said.

"There is one of concern and we'll send it in and see what the league has to say."

Rivera declined to elaborate on which hit the Panthers are submitting, but it may not be the ones from Barron or Donald, which each seemingly involved incidental contact.

Carolina instead could be more concerned about what happened during a Newton designed run midway through the first quarter when the right knee of linebacker Alec Ogletree landed inside the quarterback's face mask while he was on the ground.

But while it's easy to wonder where the flags are after the fact, fans have the benefit of watching slo-mo replays in high-definition.

"(Officials) are trying to get it right and they're trying to do the job the best they can," Rivera said. "It's the big-time, egregious ones that everyone should be worried about."

--If a reporter even thinks about asking Thomas Davis a question with the 'r' word these days, the linebacker immediately interrupts.

Games like Sunday show why retirement isn't yet on his mind.

Carolina's longest-tenured player added to his list of remarkable performances with a dominating effort against the Rams. It was a day that included a game-high 11 tackles, a forced fumble and a leaping interception that 33-year-olds aren't supposed to make.

"I saw something that our coaches showed us all week long," Davis said of his third-quarter interception of quarterback Case Keenum that stopped a rare Rams' drive into Panthers' territory.

"You drop back, you get set up, and you get your eyes back to the quarterback and he threw it in my direction. In my eyes, I'm like, 'Hey, come down with this football by any means necessary.'"

--The Panthers' secondary shuffle continued Sunday with their fifth different starting combination in as many games.

Kurt Coleman began at strong safety with Michael Griffin replacing Tre Boston at free. And at cornerback, rookies James Bradberry and Daryl Worley started for the first time together.

It was Bradberry's first game since he suffered turf toe early in the Week 3 loss at Atlanta, while Worley was starting for the fourth straight game.

"I thought they played the way we think they're capable of. I think they can play better," Rivera said.

"I thought Daryl Worley is really coming into his own because he's played consecutively. As far as James is concerned, you saw some of the rust. He made a couple mistakes, a couple things that didn't come as quickly as they are for Daryl right now because Daryl's been playing consecutively.

"But these are two young, exciting players for us that I think do have bright futures if we can keep them healthy and continue to help them grow, keep the pass rush doing the things they're doing, I think we're going to be OK at that position, I really do."

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