Carolina Panthers

Panthers coach says fights in practice are ‘B.S.,’ and won’t be tolerated vs. Bills

How Carolina Panthers-Buffalo Bills joint practices happened.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera on discussions with Bills’ Sean McDermott (former Panthers assistant) that led to joint practices this week.
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Panthers coach Ron Rivera on discussions with Bills’ Sean McDermott (former Panthers assistant) that led to joint practices this week.

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he and Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott won’t tolerate fighting this week as these theams hold joint practices.

If a player fights, he’ll be ejected from practice, then disciplined, Rivera said .

“There won’t be any fighting,” Rivera said, regarding the practices Tuesday and Wednesday with the Bills at Wofford. “We’re not here to fight, that’s B.S. . We’re here to learn from each other and help each other win. That’s probably the most important thing.”

This is the third time the Panthers have done joint practices with another NFL team, having previously worked out with the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans.

The Panthers haven’t had any problems with fighting in the past. The Panthers and the Bills have numerous ties, with McDermott and Bills general manager Brandon Beane having come to Buffalo from jobs with the Panthers.

Rivera and McDermott have discussed each coach talking to the other’s players to reinforce the message not to let intensity boil over. Both practices will be fully padded. There will be hitting, but players will “thud” without tackling all the way to the ground.

“It’s a great opportunity to work against somebody different: Who you don’t know and they don’t know you. So you’ve got to line up and play true football,” Rivera said.

“To me, a guy fights out of frustration because he’s getting beat, he’s getting stopped. I don’t want it.”

Two fields, offense-vs.-defense

Rivera said the two teams will warm up separately each morning, then the Panthers offense will pair up with the Bills defense on one field, and vice versa on the adjoining field. There will positional drills, such as tight ends matched against linebackers, then team drills both days.

Rivera said that while nothing can totally replicate game conditions, this is an optimum way to find another level of preparation for the regular season.

“We can control the tempo as coaches. We’re going to try to create as much live action as possible, in terms of the speed of the game,” Rivera said. “We’re not looking for the live contact; that’s what you really can’t afford” due to the risk of injury.

Rivera said the fact that the Panthers and Bills don’t play in the regular season (they’ll have a preseason game in Charlotte on Friday night) makes this an ideal time to practice together.

“We don’t face each other,” Rivera said, “and if we do, it means we’re both in the Super Bowl.”

Gano the guy

Rivera made it clear following practice Monday that, despite free agent Joey Slye kicking so well against the Bears, Graham Gano is solid as the Panthers’ placekicker. Gano is recovering from a leg injury. He kicked some Sunday, and Gano said he’’ll likely kick during the practices with the Bills.

Slye, according to Rivera, will likely kick in the preseason game Friday. But that should not be construed as Gano’s job being in jeopardy, the head coach said.

“We’re very fortunate right now that Joey is out there. And he’s done a great job for us. In our mind, we have to be careful with Graham going forward,” Rivera said. “We’ve got Joey here, and we’ll let Joey kick for at least probably one more game and then we’ll go from there.”

Slye, a former Virginia Tech kicker, made field goals of 29, 42 and 55 yards in Chicago. Rivera said there’s no doubt Slye’s production left an impression on teams in need of kickers — including the Bears.

“He can kick his way into the league, that’s for dog-gone sure, and that’s what he’s doing right now,” Rivera said. “I promise you Chicago is paying attention.”

Even so, Rivera said he’s committed to “a healthy Graham” as the Panthers’ kicker: “Absolutely, a guy who can go out and make kicks.”

Roster notes

Tight end Ian Thomas missed his second consecutive practice after suffering a rib injury against the Bears.

Rookie running back Jordan Scarlett returned to practice Monday after missing about a week with a back injury.

Defensive tackle Kawaan Short was at practice Monday after being hit in the shin Sunday. He was held out of some team drills.

Veteran safety Tre Boston, playing with the first-team defense Monday, had a spectacular pass-breakup during a goal line drill. His emphatic reaction said, “I’m back,” after the Panthers signed him about a week into training camp

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