After two dismal performances against the Steelers and Ravens, you knew changes were coming to the Panthers defense and the first is in the form of the benching of cornerback Melvin White.
“If there’s going to be changes, we’ve got to make some changes,” Rivera said. “We’ve got to send some messages and some clear cut ones that, ‘Hey, we’ve got to play at a consistently high level.'”
Josh Norman, who replaced White on the field after Steve Smith’s second touchdown, will start Sunday against the Bears.
“I thought he played pretty well,” Rivera said. “There were a couple of times where you’d like to see him squeeze the routes a little bit more. I thought a couple times he was a little undisciplined with his eyes. I thought his positioning and his vision was very good. It’s all part of the shakeup.”
This won’t be Norman’s first crack at the starting line-up. He started 12 games for Carolina as a rookie in 2012.
Rivera didn’t completely close the door on White, who he says will still be on the field and given the opportunities to play.
“Melvin will play; Melvin will get opportunities,” he said. “We’re not throwing anybody to the side as much as we’re just going to say, ‘Hey, we just want to give this guy a few more opportunities earlier in the game.'”
I suspect this won’t be the only change made this week. Carolina will face a Bears team on Sunday that’s just as desperate for a win as they are and if the Panthers are going to improve to 3-2 the battle will be won in the trenches. It will be interesting to what adjustments the coaching staff will make there.