The Panthers are the NFC South Division Champs—Kings of the South
They have clinched the #2 Seed, earning themselves a bye week.
The bye week affords the Panthers the opportunity to self-evaluate and make the needed corrections that will help propel the team forward. WR Ted Ginn, referred to the opportunity as a “tune-up.”
HC Ron Rivera has continually emphasized this season to the team about the necessity to seize the opportunity.
The Panthers, this week, due to their resiliency, have the opportunity to get better. Rivera: “We’ve got to be more consistent on both sides of the ball.” “We want to make sure we’re doing things the right way…”
Focus will be the major point of emphasis this week as the team looks to make the necessary improvements in their own game-play. Areas of emphasis will be “situational football: down and distance, redzone, short-yardage, third-down situations,” said Rivera.
The team will have to be mentally focused as they take a look at the game tape against the Falcons and implement the necessary corrections on the field.
The team welcomes the opportunity to improve.
The team will also improve by having the time to rehabilitate. Much needed playmakers are expected to return to practice next Wednesday. The plan is to have Steve Smith, Jonathan Stewart, and Colin Cole back on the field and ready to contribute. Ben Hartsock is questionable as to when his return may be, due to the recent nature of his injury.
A new TE, D.C. Jefferson was added to the practice squad on 1/1/14 to add more depth to the TE squad. Rivera: I think he’s got an opportunity as he develops and learns. The nice thing about signing him is hopefully we’ll have him for the future and he’ll give us the opportunity to have another guy in camp…he’s a good size guy, nice athletic ability, long-armed, good hands, runs decent routes, and good at the point of attack as far as blocking. Rivera said they are “still high on Brandon Williams,” another young TE who has shown a lot of promise. Rivera: “This is one of those moves where we saw a guy that we liked. Ben’s a little nicked and we wanted to do a little insurance thing. The nice thing is (Ben Hartsock) got an MRI the other day and it was very good. We feel pretty confident that Ben will be able to go as well.”
The Panthers have won the opportunity to host the playoff game. The opportunity to play a home-playoff game in front of thousands of screaming Panthers fans is “music to the ears.”
Written By: Phillip Boyce