February 28, 2024

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Panthers seek ‘moving forward’ after shocking shooting of Matt Rolle

Panthers seek 'moving forward' after shocking shooting of Matt Rolle

Charlotte, North Carolina – Quarterback PJ Walkerin a streak that made his third NFL start on Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, summed up how the Carolina Panthers players felt about the decision to fire coach Matt Rowley and replace him with Steve Wilkes.

“Everyone was a little bit shocked. Everyone had a feeling. You just don’t know. I think for the past two weeks we’ve entered every week without knowing this,” Walker said on Wednesday, the first time the players had spoken to the media since Monday’s coaching change. A burden on a lot of players.

“A lot of us loved Coach Rowley. Now Coach Wilkes is in charge. We think a lot from Coach Wilkes, and we’re going to take it from there.”

running back Christian McCaffrey agreed.

He said, “Anytime someone you like loses their job, it’s hard. It’s hard work. It’s results-oriented work. For us, as much as we love the coach, we have to keep going and move on. That’s what he wants us to do.”

Wilkes wasted no time in making changes to Rhule’s practice routine, switching Wednesday to a padded workout instead of Thursday in hopes of creating a rhythm for a team that started slowly every game during a 1-4 start.

Walker called energy “elite.”

“We know at the end of the day we still have work to do. If we don’t do our job, we’ll be gone too,” said Walker, who played for Rhule at Temple.

Walker snapped all the first team shots on Wednesday, but Wilkes left the door cracked Baker Mayfield He could come back this week from the high ankle sprain he suffered last Sunday 37-15 against the San Francisco 49ers.

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Wilkes said, “He’s making progress. After talking to him this morning, he feels like he might have a chance this weekend. We’ll see how it goes.”

Sources close to Mayfield said Tuesday that he is expected to miss the first pick for the 2018 draft by two to six weeks, adding that Mayfield was doing everything in his power to return to the field sooner.

Mayfield was still wearing a walking shoe on his left foot Wednesday, but Wilkes did not rule him out on Sunday.

Wilkes, who was with Mayfield in Cleveland in 2019, said: “I have a history with Becker. He’s a very physical, very strong guy, mentally strong as well. So I trust his judgment.”

“I definitely wouldn’t put him in harm’s way. … It’s important that he has the reps and the timing so we can get out and perform. It would be hard for me to get him out if he didn’t do practice.”

The players learned of the training change around 11pm on Monday when Rhule spoke to them.

Walker said of Rhule’s message: “The love he had for that group, he was sincere. There are a lot of players in that room who felt the same about the players. It hurts to see him go, but we just have to get out there and beat him. The season isn’t over yet.” We have to take care of business.”

This is the second change of the season in Carolina’s coaching since 2019. Perry Foel replaced Ron Rivera with four games remaining that season and he went 0-4.

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Seeing change come early, linebacker Chuck Thompson He said, “She is a rude awakening” to a lot of guys.

“You understand it’s a business, especially the youth,” Thompson said. “At the end of the day, it’s up to us as a player. We have to go out and do it.”

Wilkes said the goal this week is to simplify across the board so the players can play quickly and aggressively, and that was his mantra as defensive coordinator at Carolina in 2018 and with Cleveland in 2019.

Wilkes said: “We talked about it this morning in the team meeting. I will take the same approach on the offensive side. We are not going to sit back and react to the defense. We want to put pressure on them and have them interact with us.'”

He was clearly powered into the locker room not giving up the Panthers, 11-27 under Rhule, on the season despite 11 losses in the last 12 games dating back to last season.

McCaffrey said, “Sometimes bad things happen, but the ground keeps spinning. You have to keep rolling. We have to win a lot of ball games here.”