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October 20, 2011

Rivera sticking with young returners

A year ago, Panther fans were emailing wondering why John Fox wouldn't play Armanti Edwards.

Now people want to know why Ron Rivera continues to stick with Edwards as the punt returner.

It's simple, really -- and the same reason why Rivera will let Kealoha Pilares handle kickoff returns again this week despite pedestrian numbers his first two tries.

The Panthers won't say it publicly -- they want sponsors to keep buying billboards and fans to keep coming to games -- but this year is about development. So why not take long looks at the potential play-makers they drafted to see if they fit in the plans during non-rebuilding seasons?

Fox refused to give Edwards much of a look, and infamously started QB Brian St. Pierre for a game rather than use sixth-round pick Tony Pike. It seems pretty clear Rivera got the message from the front office: Give the kids a chance.

The Panthers, near the bottom of the league in punt and kickoff returns, have experienced returners in Captain Munnerlyn and Mike Goodson. But Rivera is holding firm with Edwards and Pilares. And for the record, he's not convinced there's much drop-off.

"I don't know if you sacrifice long returns. I'm not sure if they'd be there to begin with," Rivera said. "But the thing you would hope is somewhere along the lines they're going to pop it.

"You go back and you look at the things that Armanti did in the preseason, he has the ability to do that. Now we've got to give him a chance. We've got to put the right kind of guys in front of him."

As for Pilares, Rivera said: "He's probably a feel away from really getting a big return. He's really trying and he's showing some explosiveness."

--Joseph Person



Posted by Observer Sports on October 20, 2011 at 11:21 AM | Permalink


Why is it exactly that this team can't find one player to return both kicks and punts? The team activiates 6 WRs each week, but only uses 3 on offense. Edwards said he only returns punts, and doesn't play on any other special team unit. Is it the same for Pilares? They already use too many starters on special teams, which doesn't seem to help. Maybe they could be more effective if they didn't have to cary so many "specialists" that are only in on a few plays a game.

Posted by: Phillip | Oct 20, 2011 11:54:00 AM

Rivera must really be crazy!!!! What does he mean he thinks Armanti has the ability to do that??? Do what??? There is no way in the H#%% that Armanti is going to ever run a punt or a kick return back. He is doing good to hold on to the ball. And Pilares is no better!!! This is a joke!!! I have seen no explosiveness from either one. I don't know what Rivera is talking about and apparently neither does he. He is sacrificing field position because he wants to give the young guys a chance!!! How laughable!!! This is the reason that the team is in the position that they are in now. We are never going to win games with the attitude expressed by this coaching staff. And we thought Fox was bad!!!! We had a GREAT kick/punt returner in the preseason in Trent Guy. This is his specialty. And he was good at it too. He was definitely more promising than the two clowns we have back there now. In the games that he played in, he averaged 29 yards a punt return!!!! 29 yards!!! Not only has neither one of these guys gotten close to that average, neither one of them have even had a return for 29 yards period!!!!! Noone on the team has. The decision making is questionable and it is no wonder that we remain at the bottom of the league in punt/kick returns as well as nearly every other category that is worth mentioning. But hey, at least Cam Newton is having a good year!!! The Pampers never cease to amaze me.

Posted by: slimgoodbody | Oct 20, 2011 11:58:41 AM

It's hard to show explosiveness when you either have to fair catch or you have multiple guys right in your face every time you return a punt. A bit of blocking plus stopping a team shy of midfield would be a good start.

Posted by: APB for blockers | Oct 20, 2011 12:08:40 PM

In response to Phillip, that is my point exactly. They did have one player who was doing both. But instead of keeping that player who was a specialist and could do that, they decided to keep wide receivers who have no idea or desire to do so. You have 6 wide receivers and noone who can fill that position for you. Whose decision was that??? Whose ever it was is certainly an idiot. And the team will pay for it for the remainder of our "development" season. Way to Go!!!!

Posted by: slimgoodbody | Oct 20, 2011 12:11:16 PM

Kick off returns aren't that big a deal...aren't many of those anyway the way the new system is. But we need a dynamic punt returner....that is a huge weapon. I had hoped AE would be it....but don't think so after his performance so far this year. But like the article said, this yr is about development....so we can go find one for next year.

Posted by: Section524 | Oct 20, 2011 12:48:10 PM

Where do you think all these drafts picks are coming from to get all these players that we need? Come on people Jerry is selling everyone a bunch of .... Marty Hurney needs to go if you look at the results of the last few drafts. Let's see how Cam looks down the road - what is the divorce rate in this country - the seven year itch will strike in four when his contract is up!

The reason you have this Coach is because his salary is cheap and he is a yes man to Jerry. If reporters would have the guts they would go after the owner but they don't want to loose their place at the table.

Posted by: lpappy | Oct 20, 2011 1:28:56 PM

Slimgoodbody- If Trent Guy was/ is SO great...why is he not playing for anyone right now? Talent like that (as you stated) would get picked up quick on the waiver wire. AE is not getting any blocks and having to fair catch the majority of punts. Then again, the Panthers are not creating enough punts.

Posted by: Get Serious | Oct 20, 2011 2:13:31 PM

there's a 11 guys on each side. You can't judge PR's solely on the return guy. not to mention edwards hasn't gotten a ton of opportunities lately the way the defense has been allowing points. he's even managed a few 5 or 6 yard returns where he should have fair caught.

regardless, the fact that he hasn't cracked through the WR rotation with gettis out shows that he was definitely a reach at his draft position. I know olsen and shockey are eating a lot of snaps but it's not like most teams run 4 WR all day either. They're eating a lot of FB snaps, not WR snaps. if edwards can't crack the lineup through lafell and naanee AT ALL then he probably isn't worth much. I do think he deserves one more look next year to see how he does with offseason workouts with the coaching staff and what not. lockout may have been a huge blow for him.

Posted by: charlottean | Oct 20, 2011 2:22:07 PM

Development, huh? So what the hell was last year all about?

Posted by: Michael Procton | Oct 20, 2011 2:32:42 PM

How many times have we seen 5 defenders in AE's face! How many times does the D force a punt? The D couldnt catch a cold Damn a lot of people hate a kid that hasn't even been given a fair shake. I cant wait till he breaks one off or throws a TD in the wildcat. I will have plenty of humble pie to go around....just like all you haters at the draft saying taking Cam was stupid. (You really showed your football intelligence there).

Posted by: Pantherhill82 | Oct 20, 2011 2:45:04 PM

Mike, last year was about pulling the wool over everyone's eyes and gouging the PSL owners with higher prices for an inferior product. This year is about telling you how good our talent is, regardless of the fact that we have one win. The CO staff and the Panthers brass are in this together. So sad that so many buy into it. They are sheep in line for the bullet.

Posted by: I know | Oct 20, 2011 3:35:20 PM

I have watched Brandon Hogan @ WVU and once healthy I think that he will stand a chance at taking the PR position.....

Posted by: shelton | Oct 20, 2011 4:45:32 PM

Let's face it Richardson wanted Amanti Edwards and he owns the Panthers. We gave away the 31st pick (following year) to New England to get him. That could have been a corner or safety that would be starting for us right now. I loved Amanti in College but perhaps as a 8th round pick. He has done nothing and I gasp every time he catches balls on punts. I believe he will have a costly fumble prior to returning a punt this season. I know he worked on his catching the ball, in the offseason, but this is all still new to him and I am not convinced he has it in him.

Posted by: Spam | Oct 20, 2011 5:07:17 PM

I wish everyone would get off of Armanti. He has to get at least one block this year to be successful as a punt returner. Devin Hester couldn't do any better on the punt return team that the Panthers have. If you watch all of the punts that he has fielded, everyone of them has either been a fair catch or he has had 5 or 6 guys in his face at the time of reception. I JUST WISH THAT THE PANTHERS WOULD GIVE HIM A CHANCE AT WIDE RECEIVER INSTEAD OF NAANEE, BECAUSE HE REALLY SUCKS!!! All of you haters will eventually catch yourselves cheering for Armanti. He can make the Panthers better if they would give him a chance.

Posted by: Bryan | Oct 20, 2011 5:10:06 PM

We haven't had a good returner sine HE HATE ME! LoL!

Posted by: Just thinking | Oct 20, 2011 5:23:41 PM

I am so tired of repsonding to you guys that continuously spout off about how terrible a PR Armanti Edwards is! The truth is this...AE has had very few legitimate chances to return punts this entire year. He has had NO BLOCKING which Rivera has stated many time. The D rarely stops the other team shy of mid-field so most punts have to be fair caught at our 10 yard line or go out of the endzone. No one, including Devon Hester could do any better with those circumstances! When AE does take a chance to field a punt in traffic, he is immediately hit by 3-5 defenders and is doing great just to hang on to the ball! One of the few chances AE had was in the Panthers only win this season vs Jacksonville. With 6 minutes left and the game on the line, AE cleanly fielded a punt at our 35, made a GREAT move to the outside and setup Cam and our offense at mid field for the winning drive! Why do you ignore that play??? Why does he get no credit? You blamed him for dropping punts when he was learning the job now he is fielding everything cleaning and just needs a little help from his team mates to make something happen. Get off this classy kid's back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: evan | Oct 20, 2011 5:31:38 PM

Procton, Fox would not play the young players which is one of the resaons he is gone. If Armanti washes out he will be gone after this season. You of all people ouught to know about washing out?

Posted by: jay | Oct 20, 2011 7:34:03 PM

curious but what happen to goodson fielding some kicks, is goodson in rivera's doghouse..i rarely see the kid play now

Posted by: panthernation | Oct 20, 2011 11:17:38 PM

panthernation: Goodson was fumbling too much, that is why he is not being suited up for punt returns or otherwise. Until He gets over the "butterfingers" no good coach would put him in. I agree with you Evans, the return team's issues aren't with the guy(s) catching the ball, but the lack of blocking. I like AE's progress this year... he no longer looks scared back there. And has made the best of the one opportunity he had when he got some similance of blocking. On the note of special teams, I think the weakes part the kicking of the extra points. Never thought I would cringe after every touchdown, knowing there is an 80% chance the extra point will be blocked.

Posted by: PanthersFan4Life | Oct 21, 2011 9:31:47 AM

I'm an App State alum, PSL Owner and thought it was a good idea to give Edwards a try early on. However, I am now at the point to where I feel that the AE experiment should be coming to an end. Even when AE has had decent blocking, all he does is dance around, gets 3 yards and then falls down. While AE is very salary cap friendly, he is not punt return friendly at all.

Posted by: Ryan | Oct 21, 2011 3:34:27 PM

Dear PanthersFan4Life, What games are you watching? There has been no blocking all year. I've watched every game, every return opportunity and AE has had very few opportunities. Against Green Bay there were only 2 punts...one a 57 yard bomb out of the endzone and a low grounder that AE scooped up in traffic and returned for 9 yards...the longest return of the year that GB has allowed. Against Atlanta there were 3 punts and only one of those was in the field of play and AE had to fair catch it. Please, please tell me where you see all the "dancing and falling down"???? In the Panthers only win this year, with 6 minutes to go, AE fielded a punt in traffic at the 35, made a great move to the outside and set up Cam and the offense at mid field. Please tell me how that is "dancing and falling down"? I am sick of "fans" like you spouting off with no facts!

Posted by: evan | Oct 21, 2011 8:57:32 PM

AE Punt Return TD Sunday! GO PANTHERS!!!

Posted by: PanthersFanD | Oct 21, 2011 11:40:50 PM

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