Rivera walks fine line between tempo, contact in OTAs

AP

Offseason pro football practices aren’t supposed to include contact.  But without contact, it’s hard to make the practices look like football — which makes it harder to prepare the players for the coming football season.

Via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers coach Ron Rivera tries to strike the right balance between intensity and safety.  Inevitably, accidents happen, like when safety Charles Godfrey collided with receiver Steve Smith while Godfrey tried to break up a pass during a recent OTA session.

“You want Charles Godfrey to make the play, but at the same time he’s got to be aware of Steve because Steve’s not protected in that position.  So we have to be smart.  And we’re trying to stress that,” Rivera said.

The problem is that the players are competitive, especially when running the two-minute offense.

“We had a couple near-collisions that I’ve got to get on everybody, tell them, ‘Hey, we can’t do those things,'” Rivera said.  “‘Let’s be smart about it.’  But they want to compete.  We’ve got try to get them to understand it’s not about that at this point.  It’s about learning the operation of the drill. . . .  But sometimes the competitor in them will come out.  It’s hard because you don’t want to take away that aggressive nature, either.”

Teams that can’t keep contact out of offseason practices are subject to forfeited sessions and fines.  So far this year, there have been no punishments imposed.