**WEEK 4: PANTHERS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Ron Rivera
On if he expects to hear something from WR Steve Smith Sr. from the sidelines on Sunday:"I expect Steve Smith to play the way Steve Smith plays, and that's all I'm worried about. The truth of the matter is it's the Carolina Panthers versus the Baltimore Ravens, and that's going to be my approach and that's the way I'm looking at it."
On what he's seen from the Ravens this season:"[When] you watch them on tape, you see a physical football team. They play to their characteristics. They're well-coached, they play very hard and they get after people, so it's a good football team."
On what he's noticed about Baltimore's secondary:"Well, it's all about situational football as well. They're playing against teams that do throw the ball vertical, and because that happens, you're going to give up plays. But the truth of the matter is, again, it's a good, physical football team. They get after people, and their [defensive backs] play hard, their D-line is coming together. Again, it's early in the season."
On if he's surprised how quickly WR Steve Smith Sr. has gotten acclimated to Baltimore:"Not really, because again, he's a veteran player that's been in this league a long time, and apparently what coach [Gary] Kubiak is doing fits him very well."
On Carolina's loss to the Steelers compared to the Ravens' victory over Pittsburgh:"Well, the biggest thing I saw was they played very well against the Steelers and got after them, and we didn't play well against the Steelers and they got after us. The basic thing we have to do is we have to correct those mistakes we made. We made a number of mistakes; we didn't play the way we were capable [of playing], especially on the defensive side. We had opportunities to make plays, [but] we missed tackles [and] they made plays. If you don't run the ball well and the other team does, you're going to get beat."
On if running back-by-committee approaches work well and how they make the Ravens tough to prepare for:"Without a doubt. I think that their running game is very dynamic. Again, I coached against coach [Gary] Kubiak when I was in San Diego, and [Houston] had a lot of success with a good two-back tandem. The style of offense that he uses is one of those that I think handles that situation well, because now you're getting two types of styles. You're getting a guy that can bounce the ball outside and a guy that can cut back. If you look at the Ravens, all three backs are similar, but they have their own different characteristic style of the way they run. We have to make sure we understand who the back is and then play from there."
On why Gary Kubiak's offensive system breeds successful running backs:"The biggest thing, more so than anything else, I think if you have the right type of back that first of all has a feel for it as an understanding of being patient back there, you can have success. But, now you couple that with his hard play-action [and] the way they sell the play-action. I think Joe Flacco is adapting to it very nicely as well. Now all of the sudden you throw that in the mix and you can't always be in an eight-man box trying to stop the run. And then you start putting [in] a seven-man box or a six-man box, and now they starting handing the ball off, and the next thing you know, you're getting gassed. You have to be very disciplined in your style of play and you have to read your keys and understand a feel for what they want to do as far as their offense is concerned in the way they want to attack you."
On the AFC North as a whole:"I think, really, it's just their physical nature – the way they play. The thing that's different more so than anything else, too, is with the exception of Cincinnati, everybody is a 3-4 style up front, and that's one of the different things that you see. I believe more AFC teams are 3-4 fronts. [When] you look at those, that's where you see some of the biggest differences. It's a different style of football, as far as that's concerned."
On how dangerous the Ravens' offense still is, despite recent injuries to players:"I think it's still very dangerous. You asked me about Steve Smith … Well, Steve is a dangerous receiver, the other Smith [Torrey] is another dangerous receiver, and then Jacoby Jones is one of those guys that really has big-play abilities. Then you have to look at their three running backs. Again, this is a football team that has more than just the weapons that we talked about. I know tight ends are big for their position, for what [Gary Kubiak] want to do as far as the offense is concerned, but he has Owen Daniels, who he had in Houston, and Owen knows the offense, even though Dennis [Pitta] is a tremendous football player – one of the better tight ends in this league – and I know they'll miss him. But in the same respect, it's about what you do sometimes [and] not necessarily who's doing it."
On if he will tell his defensive backs to not verbally engage with WR Steve Smith Sr.:"I tell our defensive backs that we're going to play against the Baltimore Ravens. We're going to play against what they do."
On RB DeAngelo Williams' status for Sunday:"Yes, DeAngelo had a good day of practice. He took all of his practice reps he was supposed to, so I feel pretty good about it. He missed the last two games, [but he] started very well against Tampa, and just unfortunately with the hamstring, it tightened up on him the last couple of weeks, so hopefully he'll get past that."
On if Carolina's struggles in Pittsburgh were primarily the result of missed tackles:"It was a combination of things. Part of it [is] we have to make sure we're good with our run fits, and we have to make sure we're using our techniques. We had a couple techniques that called for us to cross space, and we didn't get across. We had a couple techniques that required us to get downhill and take the doubles off, [and] we didn't do that. And then give them credit. I thought their backs ran with great vision [and] made a couple nice cuts. They blocked well to the second level and cut us off. It's a combination. I don't want to call it a perfect storm, [but] pretty much it was close to that because we did not defend the run as we're capable of."
On what LB Luke Kuechly's presence does for the other 10 positions on the field:"Well, what it does is it gives everybody a little confidence. There's a guy that understands our scheme and puts us in the right defenses [and] has the ability to make plays. He's a solid football player and he's a solid young man."
On if he sees similar characteristics and possibilities for LB C.J. Mosley:"Oh, yeah. I see a lot of potential in not just C.J., but a number of players. You look at what they have and what they've had there in Baltimore for years – it's a continued aggressive, attacking style of defense. They lost a couple of starters, but the truth of the matter is they've put it together. Why? Because first of all, the scheme … I think when you're embedded at a place and you're able to keep that scheme there for a number of years and just constantly go back to it, it makes it easier on the players that you've had there for a while, and it makes it easier for players that are coming in, and that's really part of what they have there. They have a solid scheme, a solid system, and you see it because they've had a lot of success over the years. That's how you sustain, and coach [John] Harbaugh has been able to be there for awhile."
QB Cam Newton
On rebounding from last week's loss to the Steelers: "We have to do a better job of executing on all phases: running the football, passing and having longer and methodical drives. I think we did a great job on most drives with getting first downs, but in the end [we were] stalling out. I think we put ourselves in a better situation; we put our defense in a better situation [to] give those guys an opportunity to get rest. And [we need to] get points – and preferably six points."
On what he saw from the Ravens-Browns game tape: "[There are] different things throughout [the Ravens'] coverage and they have unbelievable player talent on the field. [There is] no doubt about that. They have a solid front seven that can wreak havoc at any point of the game. But we still have to solidify the run game and play off that."
On the Ravens' vulnerability with deep throws versus the Browns: "If that's what the defense gives us, we'll be more than happy to take that. But our main focus is trying to worry about us, and if that's what the defense gives us, best believe we're going to take that. We have to start with having quick practices from this point forward."
On whether he is surprised about WR Steve Smith Sr.'s quick success in Baltimore: "I'm not surprised by no means. I know what Steve Smith brings to this game. I'm glad to see his success and him achieving with another team. We always keep in touch, and being that he's doing great, I'm happy for him."
On what he expects to see from WR Steve Smith Sr. on Sunday: "Steve Smith can be playing the Jabbawockeez, Steve Smith can be playing … No matter who he's playing, he looks forward to Sunday football. So, no matter if it's the Carolina Panthers or the Buffalo Bills or any team in the league, he's going to be stoked to play. And it's not about that – the rematch with us – for Steve. It's more about us bouncing back from a bad loss we took on this past Sunday."
On doing something differently to catch defenses he has not played before off guard: "Not per se. I'm trying to be more consistent and patient, as far as what the defense gives me – if it's a scramble, if it's a check-down, if it's a deep throw. As was said earlier, that's what I'm trying to do. My main focus is to try to put up points in any way, shape, form and to try to put my offense in the best place possible."
On whether there is something fans in Baltimore don't know about WR Steve Smith Sr.: "I have no clue, man. That's something that you have to ask Steve."
On what has been working well for the Panthers' offense: "We're still professionals at the end of the day no matter who is here, who is not here. We have to focus on our given responsibilities and hold ourselves accountable to do that to the best of our ability. No matter if you're a receiver, quarterback, fullback, tight end, long snapper, kicker, punter – it doesn't matter."