SPARTANBURG, SC - Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer spoke to the media today as the Panthers moved into Wofford College for training camp. No bombshells were dropped by the two men put in place to lead the Panthers into a new era, but important information was shared nonetheless. Here are a couple of quotes that stood out.
Matt Rhule on Taylor Moton's versatility along the offensive line:
"...the unique thing in the NFC South is some of your best rushers are over there on the right side. I think we'll probably give him some reps on the left just so see how that plays out. We're trying to find the best five...One thing I do know is if Taylor is on the right side that he does a tremendous job. That's why he got the contract."
It seems like Taylor Moton is going to be tested during training camp. Moton received a gargantuan contract extension earlier this month and the Panthers are going to attempt to get their money's worth. Having already proved himself as an elite right tackle, Moton will get a shot to lock down the left side instead this year. Coach Rhule said that the Panthers are looking for the best combination of five guys on the line and if that means Taylor Moton is going to play left tackle, then so be it.
Scott Fitterer on adding current free agents to the roster:
"I think we're always looking to add players to every position. Keeping some cap space is important to us, there's a lot of planning too. Not this year, we're looking at next year, the year after, building our model, who do we want to pay next. I know we have two or three players we're talking to..."
In Fitterer's short time as the lead man in Carolina, he has made significant tweaks to the roster. However, it seems like his time wheeling and dealing may not be done yet. Fitterer seems to desire a balance between being aggressive in improving the current roster while also planning for the Panthers' future. It's a delicate balance, but one that a successful NFL GM must tread carefully.
Matt Rhule on the secondary:
"There's a lot of questions about the secondary but they're good questions...there's a lot of guys that we like. I think there will be tremendous competition at a lot of spots...we're further ahead than where we were."
The Panthers were 18th in the league in passing yards allowed in 2020 and many fans are desperate for that to improve. The poor pass defense reared its ugly head in a Week 14 loss to Denver that sealed the Panthers' fate of missing the playoffs for the third year running. Perennial underachiever Drew Lock eviscerated the Carolina secondary, putting up a stat line of 21 completions on 27 attempts for 269 yards and four touchdowns.
Though the secondary was mostly poor, there were a few flashes of brilliance that the Panthers' coaching staff can look back on and hope to build on. The week after Drew Lock torched Carolina, the Panthers' held league MVP Aaron Rodgers to a paltry 96 yards and a single passing touchdown on 29 attempts.
Consistency is something that has eluded Carolina on the defensive side of the ball since the magical 2015 season, but hope abounds after hearing Matt Rhule talk about the secondary today.
Scott Fitterer on how he feels about the composition of the roster currently:
"I like where it's at right now. I think we added some good pieces, [and] a lot of depth this offseason. I think defensively we added a lot of strength and a lot of size and speed on that side of the ball. Skill position-wise on offense we're in good shape. Offensive line is going to come together...but that's probably the most fluid thing...I like where we're at but we're never settled."
Another quote from Fitterer that hints at some more roster moves coming. The free-agent market is obviously thin this time of year, but savvy general managers can find ways to upgrade their team at any time of the year. It will be interesting to see how Fitterer tinkers with the 53-man roster as the season approaches.
Matt Rhule on Shaq Thompson stepping into a leadership role:
"Since I've been here he's always done that. He's a guy that has tremendous integrity. What he says he does, and he's a guy that treats people well. He's a guy that's around and takes care of the young guys. He brings a lot to our team and he's a tremendous leader."
Thompson was rewarded with a lucrative contract in 2019 and he will need to play up to his potential this year to earn his money. It is incredibly encouraging to see him step up into the leadership role that has been vacated after losing guys like Luke Kuechly and Tre Boston the last couple of offseasons. Thompson is now the elder statesman on the defense, and him taking guys like Jeremy Chinn and Jaycee Horn will only be positive for the Panthers' future outlook.
You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on Twitter:
Facebook - @PanthersOnSI