2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Panthers emphasizing wrapping up, not taking down

By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-29 17:40

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - Tackling is becoming a thing of the past at Panthers training camp.

In an effort to avoid unnecessary injuries as a result of contact, Carolina - like many teams around the NFL - emphasizes form tackling during team drills with defenders ``wrapping up'' ball carriers, but not taking them down to the ground.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said that's a big change from when he played linebacker 25 years ago for the Chicago Bears when two-a-day practices and all-out tackling were the norm.

Rivera said how teams have approached teaching tackling ``has changed a lot'' in recent years out of necessity.

Rivera now overseas practices where players get yelled at by coaches if they take an offensive player to the ground except during ``live drills,'' which are few and far between at training camp.

Defensive tackle Frank Kearse, linebacker Ryan Rau and cornerback Josh Thomas were among the players at Monday's practice at Wofford College who heard it from coaches when their wrap ups turned too aggressive and the offensive player finished the play on the ground.

``Stay up,'' Rivera screamed at one point during practice.

``No tackling,'' screamed another assistant coach.

Some players said that's easier said than done and it's a skill that takes time to learn. There's that natural tendency to want to run a ball carrier into the ground and finish the play with a sense of authority.

But Panthers veteran linebacker Chase Blackburn, who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants, said that's the reason the league has four preseason games.

``You tackle in those games and you get enough reps to where you get it going,'' Blackburn said.

As for practice, Blackburn said the Panthers work hard during individual drills to practice their form tackles.

``We work on tackling, ball stripping, wrapping up and bringing your hips,'' Blackburn said. ``There is just too much threat of injury to bring a guy down during practice. As much as you want to rep it, it's just not worth it as a team.''

Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, now in his 15th season as an NFL assistant coach, said it's a ``tricky situation'' making sure players are ready for the regular season without running the risk of losing key players.

``It's funny, back then the first three days we're always full pads and two-a-days and live tackling to the ground,'' McDermott said. ``But I understand how things have evolved and why they have evolved. But (training camp) is also where you build your toughness, so you have to make sure you are doing that day-by-day, too.''

McDermott said sometimes it's a matter of getting creative in practice, allowing players to use props such as tackling dummies.

Still, he said he feels an anxiety every year before the first preseason game and early in the regular season over how well players are going to tackle.

``It's concerning because that can be the difference between winning and losing games,'' McDermott said.

Safety Charles Godfrey feels like the Panthers work plenty on tackling, although it may not be the traditional full-bore style from 20 years ago.

``We run to the ball, we fit up, we wrap up,'' Godfrey said. ``Sure it's not a big collision, but the form is being worked on. So are we working on tackling? Sure. But we're just not taking guys to the ground. We are gathering ourselves and making sure we have that proper leverage and wrapping up.''

Once the season starts, of course, that all changes.

The new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players union signed in 2011 also limits the amount of full padded practices during OTAs, training camp and the regular season to prevent injuries.

Rivera said it is all part of a changing game and coaches must adapt.

``It's just different,'' Rivera said. ``(When I played it) It was two-a-days, it was full pads and we were able to hit if we wanted.''

---

Online: AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org

---

Follow Steve Reed on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SteveReedAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Julius ThomasNov 27 07:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Anthony DavisNov 27 07:23p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared OT Anthony Davis, WR Bruce Ellington, DL Glenn Dorsey, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Quinton Patton, CB Tramaine Brock, TE Vance McDonald inactive for Week 13.

Arian FosterNov 27 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Allen BradfordNov 27 07:12p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared LB Allen Bradford, TE Cooper Helfet, CB Jeremy Lane, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, C Max Unger, TE Rashaun Allen, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 13.

Jordan CameronNov 27 06:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Latavius MurrayNov 27 04:52p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 27 04:02p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Tony HillsNov 27 03:22p

The Dallas Cowboys have declared LB Dekoda Watson, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, FS Jeff Heath, DL Joshua Brent, OT Tony Hills, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 13.

Taylor HartNov 27 03:12p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, DB Jaylen Watkins, WR Jeff Maehl, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, CB Rashad Carmichael, DE Taylor Hart inactive for Week 13.

Jordan ReedNov 27 03:02p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Dwayne AllenNov 27 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Kyle FullerNov 27 11:32a

Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (knee) will play in the team's Week 13 game against the Detroit Lions. Fuller had been questionable during the week.

Lance BriggsNov 27 11:22a

The Chicago Bears have declared WR Chris X. Williams, LB Darryl Sharpton, OT Eben Britton, DL Jeremiah Ratliff, LB Lance Briggs, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott inactive for Week Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

The Detroit Lions have declared QB Kellen Moore, OG Larry Warford, DE Larry Webster, DL Nick Fairley, RB Reggie Bush, OT Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles inactive for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is inactive Thursday, Nov. 27, for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 10:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is out for Week 13 Thursday, Nov. 27. His ankle isn't responding well enough, but the hope is to return for Week 14.

R. Griffin IIINov 27 09:53a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is highly unlikely to return to the team next season, sources within the organization said. Head coach Jay Gruden convinced owner Daniel Snyder [ More ]

Jimmy StatenNov 26 09:43p

The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent DT Jimmy Staten (Seahawks) to their practice squad Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also released OT Andrew McDonald from their practice squad.

Marcus ThigpenNov 26 09:03p

The Buffalo Bills claimed WR Marcus Thigpen off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also waived DE Bryan Johnson.

Richard GordonNov 26 09:03p

The Tennessee Titans waived TE Richard Gordon Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 08:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Dwayne AllenNov 26 07:33p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

C. PattersonNov 26 06:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jerick McKinnonNov 26 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Brandon LaFellNov 26 06:03p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jace AmaroNov 26 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (head) is not expected to play in Week 13, because he is going through the concussion protocol.

Reggie BushNov 26 04:53p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, back) was limited in practice for the third straight day Wednesday, Nov. 26, and is questionable for Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.

Jordan CameronNov 26 04:43p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) remains day-to-day, but the team is looking for him to practice symptom-free this week, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Jordan ReedNov 26 04:13p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

R. Griffin IIINov 26 02:53p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III needs more seasoning, and he'll likely do it from the bench for the rest of this season, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 26 02:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) has an excellent chance to return in Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans after missing the last two games.

Mark SanchezNov 26 02:23p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez has thrown six interceptions this year, but all of them haven't been game-changing turnovers. In Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, Sanchez thrived on [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group