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Ron Rivera press conference | May 24, 2023

*Opening Statement: *"I just wanna start this off real quick. There'll be a couple things you notice today during practice. The first one being is that Armani Rogers won't be out on the practice field. Unfortunately, yesterday he suffered a non-contact Achilles injury. He'll be examined next week and there is really no timetable on his return. Jamin Davis is only going through walkthroughs and meetings right now. He had a minor cleanup procedure on his knee from a lingering issue from last season. He'll continue to work his way back into the mix and we're not worried about this being a long time thing."

On how big of a blow TE Armani Rogers injury is considering what they saw last season:

"Yeah, it is a little bit of a blow and it's unfortunate. He did it running. Like I said, he was non-contact. He's a young man that really progressed very well for us last year but we feel very confident in the group of tight ends that we have right now as well. But it is a big loss as far as the young man's concerned."

On how he views DE Montez Sweat and DE Chase Young not being at practice yesterday:

"You always would like to have all your guys here, but again, it's volunteering. We understand that and the nice thing though is I've been in contact with them. They're working out. They're progressing, getting themselves ready to go. When it all comes down to it, we'll see 'em when they have to be here."

On the strides QB Sam Howell has taken:

"Well, one of the things that we talked about last year and you guys were asking about him and his growth and developments, we talked about footwork and, and stuff like that and you really see the improvement in those details. You really do. He's got a great sense and feel for what Coach [Eric] Bieniemy wants and in fact all the quarterbacks too. I think having Jacoby [Brissett] out here pushing him and working with him at the same time has been a really good thing because you do see his growth."

On what they see as S Kam Curl's role this season:

"Well, I think his role is gonna continue to be pretty much what it is. You know, he's one of those guys that have stepped up in terms of leadership. He's a young man that does fit what we do, obviously and he has played a big role for us and he'll continue."

On if player contract situations are on hold with the current ownership situation:

"For the most part, everything's on hold. We'll let the process as far as the ownership piece continue to unfold and develop. I know about as much as you guys do. As that process goes, we'll continue to do as much of the football business as usual as we can."

On the kick and punt return game:

"Well, there are a couple guys out there, but one of the more notable names, and I'm gonna have to look it up and so I can say it properly, but he's a young man we got out of UCLA. He'll wear number 10 out there, Kazmeir Allen. He played some slot for them, some wide receiver for them, some running back for them and then he returned both kickoffs and punts for them, and he did 'em in the bowl game in the All-Star games as well. So he's a young man that most certainly has gotten our attention and he's a young guy that we went out and tried to make sure we were able to recruit and bring him in as a free agent."

On what he has seen from the rookies and what he will be looking for from them these practices:

"Well, the biggest thing right now is that you see those guys assimilating to the way we do things, assimilating to the groups that they're in. On the offensive side, you see those two offensive lineman we drafted early on, you see the running back that we drafted doing some really nice things. Fitting very nice into what we want and then some of the undrafted free agent guys. On the defensive side, the two corners, two defensive ends, they fit very nicely. They really do. We didn't have Quan [Martin] at the rookie camp. Obviously, he had a family issue he had to take care of, but he stepped in the other day very nicely. You see his athleticism and his ability to go out and make plays already. He's around the ball, so those guys have really kind of adjusted nicely. I can tell you this too on offense and defense, the coaches are not slowing down. They're picking up right where they left off with them and part of it is they are forcing them to have to do the extra stuff, to do some of the personal studying, to take some of the time to really get into what we're doing and diving into the, the homework. It's their response has been outstanding so far. So, we're pretty excited about what we're seeing."

On what it has been like coaching with Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy and what he has brought to the offense:

"Well, it's been exciting. Yesterday was a really good day. You know, EB is a high energy, high-impact guy. He doesn't hold in. He doesn't pull any punches. He's very direct with the players, which has been good. You guys will see it when you get out there today. You'll get an opportunity to see how things are. One of the things that we talked about was just changing the way we do things. As I told you guys, I gave him the opportunity to script a lot of things that we're doing. He is handling all the scheduling. I basically just laid the format out, given it to him and, and he's put it all together, so that's why things are different. That's why we're not out on the field already because these are some of the things that he wanted to change and wanted to work on. Jack [Del Rio]'s been very flexible as well in working with him as far as those things are concerned as has Nate [Kaczor]. It is different and it is kind of getting us outta this comfort zone. I know he talked a lot about that during his press conference about being uncomfortable. I wanted to give him the opportunity to stick to what I told you guys and that he was gonna be very involved in a lot of those things."

On both him and Bieniemy having intense sides to them:

"I'm not the one I'm worried about. I'm worried about the defensive side. I mean, those guys are gonna be as competitive as it gets and we've gotta manage and maintain. We had a real good tempo yesterday. You know, the emphasis of working together and growing has been really good. You also noticed that we're spending a lot of time on the individual skills that all these positions are calling for as opposed to working against each other as much. So that's a little different right now as well."

On what he has seen from RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. so far:

"First of all, what he brings to the table and that's his size. I mean, he's got good physical size. He moves well for a big guy. He's got good hands a lot better than anticipated. He has a stick his foot in the ground and making one cut type back. But, what you're seeing out there is you're seeing a young guy that's learning, growing quickly because again, as I said, we're not slowing down. You know, the coaches want to keep it going fast paced because they want them to learn and learn on the run. What it does, it forces them also to get out, a little bit later in the day. When they got some downtime to grab their books or their iPads and study a little bit more."

On how Young is doing mentally since his fifth-year option was declined:

"From what I've gotten in our text messages and conversations just, hey, he gets it. He understands and he's gonna go out and I really believe he's gonna come in and give us everything he's got. I don't disagree with Jack [Del Rio]'s message. Julie Donaldson was interviewing him and he came out and said, you know, this is about production based business and you have to produce. If you wanna look at a great example, that's what Daron [Payne] did. You know, our intent is to keep our guys. Guys that produce for us, we want them to be around, want them to be part of what we're doing, so that's pretty much just been the message and I believe he's adapted to it very nicely and he's working hard. I'll be excited to see him when he has to be here. So, again, he's been on top of things."

On how you avoid the delay of implementing a scheme when guys don't come to offseason workouts and what his concern is with that happening again:

"I'm not as concerned just because these guys are a little bit older, a little bit more veteran. When they get here, they'll just jump right in. They did come for the first week. They did get a lot of the installation stuff originally that we're gonna do. Defensively, I know this much, we'll go through this installation process three times during this period, from when we start phase one all the way till we get to the mini camp, and then we'll go through it again, we'll get to training camp. Alot of it will be redundant at some point but to get it all would've been nice. But again, this is voluntary, so where we are is pretty much working with the guys that are here."

On what he has seen from Howell on the field and in the huddle:

"It's one of those things that Coach Bieniemy stresses taking charge as the quarterback. It doesn't matter who the quarterback is if something's wrong, he wants them to step back, get it set, and then get back into the huddle. You know, if little things at the line aren't right, hey, bring them back, we'll start again. He wants them to go ahead and take leadership and, and control, and that's what you're seeing from all of them. Again, not just what he's demanding of Sam, but he's demanding the same thing from all four of 'em, so I think that's a really good thing."

On what WR Terry McLaurin, WR Jahan Dotson and WR Curtis Samuel can do in this offense with Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy:

"Well, I think and I know he's talked about this is we're talking about matchups. How do we create the matchups? How do we create the mismatches that we want to try and exploit? That's one of the things that he's working on. I was sitting through their installation meeting this morning and listening to the coach and what he was telling the guys about some of the stuff they're putting in. It's really about trying to find the opportunity to exploit it and that's probably the biggest thing. Do I think we have a chance for some big things? Yeah, I do. I really do. I do think because of the explosive nature in which those guys play with and what this offense is designed around."

On how TEs Logan Thomas and Cole Turner have looked:
"Well, I'll tell you the group as a whole does look good, and we've got some good young players that need to ascend now. We had a nice trio or nice group of guys. Unfortunately, like I said, it was just a freak thing and it was just crazy. It's very unfortunate. [TE Armani Rogers] is a heck of a young man, but he'll be back."

On if he thinks that Young and Sweat are skipping OTAs because of their contract situations:
"No, not necessarily. And again, it's voluntary."

On if he is disappointed in T Charles Leno Jr. not being here since the team is installing a new offensive scheme:
"No. Because Charles has been in the system and I think that's probably part of why he's not here. He knows the system. He was in it in Chicago and so a lot of stuff that they did the first week that he was here was pretty much the stuff that he's been involved with."

On what he is hoping to see from the offensive line this year:
"Just continued growth. I mean, we've got some young guys that have been tagged to get some big opportunities. You know, right now we've got [T/G] Sam [Cosmi] as the guy at right guard. [T/G] Saahdiq [Charles] is getting the opportunity at left guard to start off with [G] Chris Paul right behind him. I think again, what it's done is it's kind of pushed some of these young guys into the forefront. But, making the commitment that we did going out and getting a couple of guys right off the bat in free agency and then signing another one afterwards, then drafting a couple -- one of the things we wanna do is we wanted to try and improve the depth. I think we've done that as well. So, just watching them continue to work together."

On if he thinks the players have been receptive to some of the changes that Coach Bieniemy has made:
"I believe so. I just believe it is change. It's just a little different. And one of the things basically that Eric's stressing on with his guys is, they've gotta learn to be comfortable when they're uncomfortable. And I think a big part of it is just kind of the way he's dumping the installations. I mean, they're coming one after the other. I was sitting through that and listening to it, and it was fast and it was high energy and, I was watching the guys and they got their eyes fixed up on the stage. When it was time to write something down, you see 'em all with the heads all going down at the same time and they're checking their notes and all that. So, it's been a change."

*On what the process has been with having Bieniemy help with the scheduling while also working to install the offense: *"Well, a big part of it is a lot of the practice planning for OTAs, minicamp and training camp really is about the installation. So it's almost a natural fit for him. I did the same thing with [former offensive coordinator] Scott [Turner]. Gave him pretty much the guideline and then he worked in conjunction with [defensive coordinator] Jack [Del Rio] in getting it done. And you're seeing the same thing with Eric. Eric's got an installation plan. That installation plan is reflected in the way that he schedules every day in terms of practice and meetings and walkthroughs for training camp, so you see that now. I've talked about training camp because that was the last thing I just gave him at the beginning of this week was I gave him -- I've already got training camp mapped out with an outline. Now he's just gotta fill it in. And I think it's all part of the growth and giving him an idea as to what to expect and how to do things. Every now and then I'll pop in, see how he's doing. He might have a question or two, or he'll go to the operations guy to Bryan Porter and ask him about things. Because again, we have a timeframe that we have to go through. We have a ramp up period that we have to go through, and he wanted to make sure he was in accordance with all those as well."

On if he is giving Bieniemy these tasks to help him take the next step in becoming a head coach:
"Well, I think it's part of what this is about. I mean, I don't believe you give the assistant head coach title and it is gratuitous. I mean, when I was in Carolina and I gave it to Steve Wilks, Steve did a lot of this stuff too as well. I've been holding it for a while here and then when the opportunity to give it to Eric and again to make sure it's something that's not just gratuitous, it's not just a title, but it's a working title, and he's doing those things and he's got those responsibilities. I think he relishes it. I mean, he's one of those guys that very few people are gonna outwork, and he works very hard at what he's doing and he's developing his way of doing it. And again, I do that because when it comes time for the installation, the guy that knows what he wants more than anything else is the coordinator. And again, he's putting it together. He's working with Jack, so Jack can put his installation to match what's going on as well."

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