The Washington Redskins (4-5) on Sunday play the Carolina Panthers (9-0) in 2015 Week 11 action at Bank of America Stadium.*
On Wednesday, Carolina Panthers head coach Rivera and cornerback Josh Norman spoke to the Washington, D.C., media about their upcoming matchup against the Redskins.
Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera
On how he can keep his team fresh and challenged: **"I think probably one of the best things is just looking at the opponent, to be honest. We're looking at a Redskins team that went out last week and played some very good football, and just trying to get the message across to our guys that this is a team that is developing and playing very, very well. The quarterback was outstanding and he was NFC Offensive Player of the Week, deservedly so, for his performance. You look at the defense and how they got after people. There's something to this football team and that's what I've been trying to stress with our guys. I believe our guys are getting the message."
On his observations of the Redskins' offense:"Well, for the most part, I've seen them run the ball effectively which obviously it opens up some of the passing lanes. I've seen them make some good decisions. Kirk Cousins is a quality football player. He's done some nice things, made some good decisions and he delivers a nice ball. The way he throws a ball that is a very catchable football and, like I said, they've got some guys that are playmakers."
On the effectiveness of the offense in the running game:"I think a lot of things start upfront. Our offensive line has been solidified. Ever since Week 13 of last season, I think our guys have played very consistent and I think that helped. I like our running backs. I think we've got a nice tandem with the guys that rotate through with Jonathan Stewart carrying the bulk of the ball. Then we bring in Michael Tolbert, who is an inside guy. We use Fozzy Whittaker, who gets to the edges very quickly and then you throw the quarterback's ability to run the ball in this as well and some good things can happen. So we are very fortunate as far as that is concerned."
On the biggest growth in Panthers QB Cam Newton:
"I just think pretty much doing the things that we need him to do. I mean, our offense has changed, as well. A lot of the things that we do fit his skillset. I think one of the biggest things that [Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator] Mike Shula and his staff was last season, the planning to use the no-huddle, get him to the line of scrimmage and let him basically run things. We started that, Week 13, again, last year and things really came together. You see him continue to develop and grow within what we're doing. I think lot of it has to do with what Mike Shula and the offensive coaches have done and that's kind of play to his skillset."
On if he can do more now with Newton than he could a couple of seasons ago:
"I think so but, you know, I think part of it – I don't know how you would say it – but kind of a cause and effect. Unfortunately, we lose Kelvin Benjamin to the injury and then all of a sudden you start seeing Cam spreading the ball to six, seven, eight, nine different guys a week and that's been huge. He's got so many more guys involved in the passing game. I think that's one of the things that's really helped him to grow, learning and understanding how to go through his progressions, going from his first to his second to his third reads or first to his third or second to his third right away without skipping a beat. And, as I said about Kirk, one thing you see about Cam is he makes a lot of good decisions right now."
On if he knew what 'The Dab' was before Newton did it:
"No, I didn't. It was the first time I saw it. I've got a daughter who's in her early 20s and just graduated from college, and I had to ask her, 'What he was doing.' She said, 'Dad, that's The Dab. You have got to know that.' No… So, yeah, I didn't know about it until I saw him do it."
On 'Cam being Cam':
"Yeah, pretty much it is Cam being Cam. I think the biggest thing more so than anything else is he's just trying to have fun. His personality, who he is, his energy that he brings to the football team, I think as long as he's careful with it, where it doesn't become that he's taunting or anything like that – he's just having fun, he's being who he is. One thing that I do stress to our guys is, hey, keep your personality, keep who you are. That's what's got us to where we are right now. So let's just make sure were staying positive. We're keeping the personality. We're staying focused on the task at hand."
On if it helps to have a loose personality like Newton lead the team:
"You know what's been interesting has been his confidence. I don't think people quite understand it either. You look at what he's done the last few games, going to Seattle and taking that last quarter drive and doing it the way he did, playing as well as he did against Philadelphia and then carrying it over into Indy and then Green Bay… He's playing very confident right now and very comfortable in what we're doing and I think that's helped. I think it's kind of spread to his teammates and he's doing a great job of it right now."
Carolina Panthers Cornerback Josh Norman
On how he stays motivated when the team is undefeated:
"Continue to work hard, continue to work at an extremely phenomenal rate."
On why Panthers QB Cam Newton is able to 'get under people's skin':**
"Because he's 6-5, 260 and can do whatever he wants."
On the challenge of covering WR DeSean Jackson:
"Well, it's always a challenge to just cover any receiver, but him especially. He's a guy that likes to take it over the top and then he breaks his route off. We just have got to know and understand that and welcome that challenge."
On if he has noticed teams starting to throw away from him:
"Yeah, I've kind of noticed that a bit. I'm kind of trying to switch some stuff up so they can't but at the same time I've just got to play the defense and the scheme in which the defense allows me to play and not try to play out of it to go get a play because I'm hungry to do something. I've just got to maintain my discipline and if they don't come then I've just got to be satisfied with that and try not to overthink it."
On the difference in QB Kirk Cousins at this point in the season:
"Kirk, I remember him back at IMG [Academy]. He was one of the IMG guys when I was out there training with him. I can just say, personally, he's one of the guys I feel like can lead a team. His poise and morale is great. He's a great leader, I feel. His ball and his delivery… He's always been smart in timing with his throws. I just can't say enough good things about him."
On if any changes to the defense from the second half of last season carried over to this year:
"Well, the mentality, when we was going through that streak or whatever, they ended up making some changes and put some guys in places where they were able to make some stuff happen. Once we were able to put guys in place, that aggressive mentality of the coaching scheme kind of ended up kicking into place. And when that started to happen, we started moving some stuff around and started to shape up. As you see, we're still doing that same stuff today."
On Newton hitting 'The Dab' last week:
"[Laughter] He said he was gonna Dab on 'em , and he Dabbed on 'em. It was one of those things where, hey, shoot, like I said, 6-5, 260, man, keep him out of the end zone if you don't want him to Dab on you. So that's pretty much what he did and I'm pretty sure he's going to do it again whenever he touches that end zone. It's your job to stop him. We've got his back and we're behind him. Shoot, if I get mine, I'm going to Dab on 'em too."