Panthers look to shake post-bye struggles vs. Seahawks
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Panthers coach Ron Rivera is hoping his team can shake its traditional post-bye week blues on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
Carolina has stumbled after a bye week the past four seasons under Rivera, going 0-5 including a home playoff loss in 2013. They have been outscored 125-46 in those games.
Rivera went as far as to research the way other teams approach how they handle the bye week.
He wound up borrowing a page from the Green Bay Packers, going full pads on Tuesday and then practicing three straight days in preparation a West Coast trip to Seattle.
”For whatever reason we do seem to have a little bit of a struggle,” coming off a bye, Rivera said. ”We have tried different things and this is another chance to see if this helps us. So hopefully this is it.”
Whether it works or not – and is something the Panthers will consider doing in the future – remains to be seen.
”The proof will be in the pudding,” Rivera said. ”We will see how it all ends. Hopefully it is a positive for us and something we can continue to explore.”
Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said he liked the idea of practicing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as it got the team refocused on football after a week off.
”I think it’s something that is going to be beneficial for us,” Davis said. ”Just starting back fast right after the bye week, getting back in full pads after the week off is going to be beneficial to us.”
Last season epitomized the Panthers’ post-bye week struggles.
The Panthers allowed two blocked punts to be returned for touchdowns in a 31-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
In 2013, Carolina lost 22-6 to the Arizona Cardinals in another lackluster performance during the regular season, then got beat 23-10 at home by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional playoffs after securing the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and an automatic first-round bye.
There was also a 30-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans in 2011.
The team’s history of poor performances following the bye doesn’t concern tight end Greg Olsen.
He said the past is the past and doesn’t have a bearing on this week’s game.
”I don’t think it’s anything that you stay up at night worrying about,” Olsen said. ”It could be something as simple as we just didn’t play well those games. We have lost games when it wasn’t the bye. We’re not going to spend too much time worrying about it.”
The Panthers will get middle linebacker Luke Kuechly back from a three-game absence on Sunday which should bolster their defense. He suffered a concussion in the team’s season opener at Jacksonville.
”He’s truly one of the dynamic players in this league and we’re a different team with him on the field,” outside linebacker Thomas Davis said. ”I’m probably more excited than anybody.”
Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery is also expected to play after missing the last two games with a high ankle sprain.
However, Rivera said it is unlikely recently acquired defensive end Jared Allen will make the trip to Seattle due to a pinched nerve in his back. Allen has not practiced this week.
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