Steve Smith has a little fun with Mike Goodson, trying to strip the ball from him. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
CHARLOTTE – Ideally Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera would like to make a decision on his starting quarterback over the weekend since he plans to approach the third preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals as if it’s a real game.
The Panthers will go through what Rivera called a regular season “mock week” preparation -- which includes scouting the Bengals and noting their tendencies -- beginning Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
With that in mind, he'd like to know who the starting quarterback is so that player can get the majority of reps in practice.
“We will do everything we would expect to do during the regular season,” Rivera said of next week's schedule.
Rivera and his offensive coaching staff will sit down after Friday night’s preseason game at Miami and determine who’ll start at quarterback. On Thursday he all but ruled out veteran Derek Anderson as a candidate to start the Sept. 11 regular season opener against Arizona, indicating the decision is primarily between Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen.
“Derek is in the battle, but we're coming down to two young men (and) we've got to decide on which of the two is the most ready to play for us,” Rivera said.
Newton will start Friday night’s game at Miami.
Clausen, who started last week's game, will play the second and third quarters. Anderson will finish up the fourth. Most of the starters will play two quarters, which gives Clausen a chance to work behind the first-team offensive line in the second quarter.
Rivera said the thing he’s stressing the most this week is consistency.
“Last week, we'd go a series where we'd have a bad thing happen and then we'd have a good thing happen and then we'd have a bad thing,” Rivera said. “Cutting down on the turnovers. We had two but we had a third one that was on the ground. We just can't have that; we've got to be more consistent. Then we've got to be consistent on defense as well. You give up a couple of big plays here, and then you shut them down. That's the biggest thing that we're looking for and we're hoping for - to be more consistent. As I have stressed with these guys, I do want to play hard more so than anything else.”
BARNIDGE INJURED: The Panthers were in shorts on Thursday, but TE Gary Barnidge still managed to injure his ankle. The injury was bad enough to where the trainers felt the need to put an air cast on the leg and cart him off the field. Barnidge looked to be in considerable pain as he left the practice field.
Rivera said Barnidge was taken to get an x-ray.
“His cleat got stuck in the ground, and he went over the top of it,” Rivera said. “Hopefully, at worst it's a bad, bad (ankle) sprain. But as a precaution they booted him up, took him in and they're going to take him over to get some x-rays.”
OTAH UPDATE: Among those starters who won’t play against the Dolphins include OT Jeff Otah (knee), RG Geoff Schwartz (hip), LB Jon Beason (Achilles), FB Tony Fiammetta (neck), DE Greg Hardy (foot) and possibly CB Chris Gamble (groin). RBs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson have sore Achilles and are their status for the Miami game is uncertain.
As for the offensive line, Rivera said, “With Jeff (Otah) rehabbing on the knee and trying to get it stronger, it will be one of those things where he's going to have to get a little bit more work, and then we'll see. We've got to wait and see as the next couple of weeks unfold.”
FS Charles Godfrey, who has been away this week dealing with family matters, will meet the team in Miami and is expected to play.
RON EDWARDS A HELP: Although he’s on injured reserve, veteran DT Ron Edwards has been to just about every practice and team meeting since tearing his triceps, taking on a role of mentor to a very young defensive line.
“It speaks to his character and who he is,” Rivera said. “It was a real big disappointment that he had to have the (triceps) surgery. What he brings to the table is more so than just what he does on the football field but what he's doing in the classroom with the young guys and now out here as like an extra coach, an extra set of eyes for us.”
GOODSON ATTACHED: There was a funny moment during Wednesday’s final training camp practice when, off to the side, Steve Smith began trying to wrestle a football away from Goodson. Goodson went into a fetal position as Smith pulled Goodson’s jersey over the top of his head. It looked for moment like tickle fight.
Goodson wouldn’t let go -- and now we know why.
It turns out Rivera made Goodson carry the football around with him throughout practice and told him he had to buy dinner for anybody who stripped the ball from him.
“One of the reasons I wanted him to carry the ball around was I wanted him to understand the significance and importance of keeping that ball, especially in a crowd,” Rivera said. “I told the guys that if anybody knocked the ball out of his hands, he was buying them dinner. But I put it back, also, that if he makes the day without losing the ball, I would buy him dinner. So I'm going to ask Mr. (Jerry) Richardson for some Bojangles' certificates.”