Transcripts: Wednesday’s Media Availability

LINEBACKER THOMAS DAVIS

RE: Being back at camp

“It feels great to be back down in Spartanburg with my teammates knowing that this is the first step for the new season and new team. We are really trying to put it all together and come together as a group.”

RE: Front office movement

“I think it’s important for you guys and for us as players to put everything in perspective. We are hired to do a job, to come in as players and play football. We practice, and we do what is asked of us. The thing that happened upstairs within the organization is out of our control… Our goal is to come in and win football games and we understand that. When decisions are made like that, for players, we have to live with it, line up, and play. We have Marty Hurney as our GM right now, and as players we are focused on moving forward. The talk on social media shows people rushing to judgment saying our team is going to be terrible because we let our GM go a week before camp. You have to realize we are the ones who go out and play the games. We will determine how our season goes.”

RE: Contract extension negotiations

“It’s ongoing. It’s a contract negotiation, it’s not something that is going to happen overnight. I will say this; I am excited that we are in a position to be negotiating. I have this year left in my contract, and it’s something the organization doesn’t have to do, so I am excited they have chosen to do it. At the end of the day, it’s all about playing football and that’s what we are trying to focus in on right now. Let the business side take care of itself when it happens. For me, I am totally focused on training camp and getting better as a player.”

RE: Rumors of his part in recent movement in the organization

“Some of the things that were being said were unbelievable. The two guys being talked about, Greg Olsen, and myself try to represent and stand for not only ourselves as players, but as pillars of the community, and leaders of this football team. It was a totally unfair and uncalled for, but at the same time, it comes with the territory. We understand it, but as veterans we don’t lose sight of the task at hand, which is coming in and being the best teammates and players we can be. That is our focus.”

RE: Cont. on contract negotiations

“Greg and I both agreed that it was unfair treatment. That started from you guys. The media was saying we were the cause of it, which like I said was unfair. At the end of the day if you want to dig down into it, get your facts. Find out. Ask questions from upstairs. That is where the information is coming down. Find out within the organization before you put stuff out there. “

RE: Conversations with Dave Gettleman about contract negotiations

“I have sat down with Mr. Gettleman a lot. To his credit, he told me to my face he had never seen anything like my play before, for my age. I guess it put him in a tough position on making a decision moving forward, but it was never where he said something negative to me as a player or as a person. We never had one of those interactions. I want to play until I can’t play anymore. It’s more of a year-to-year thing for me right now. We will see what the future holds.”

RE: This year’s team

“I am very excited. Speaking defensively, to add a guy like Julius Peppers back with the experience he has and ability he has, what he is still able to do as a player is unbelievable. Captain (Munnerlyn) is one of the best nickel backs in this league. He is also a guy that is a versatile player because he can play outside if need be. We are definitely excited to have them back. Mike Adams in the secondary and the addition of L.J. McCray will create some competition in the safety spot. We did a really good job in the offseason in the free agency market, and were able to get some good guys both offensively and defensively. They did a really good job completing this football team. It’s nice for us now as football players to get in there and make those pieces fit. At the end of the day, I’m here, I’m excited to be here, Carolina is my home and it will always be.”

RE: Training camp then vs. now

“Training camp was pretty rough when I came into the league in 2005. We were going two times a day in full pads, and that was rough. I think the new structure is a lot better for players and overall better for the team. The longer you can keep your guys healthy, the better product we are going to have on the field and the better the fans will enjoy the game. I think those were important steps to reduce practices and cut down on some of the time. For a lot of older guys like myself, it’s helped to extend our careers.”

RE: Injuries early in career

“I think it has helped my body in an amazing way. I have had two and a half years of not having the normal pounding a normal linebacker experiences at the age of 34. I am seeing the benefits of that right now. If you could look at that situation and say there was some good that came out of it, it’s this.”

RE: Retirement plans

“It’s not about just being in the league and hanging around being a part of the team. If I can’t contribute or compete with the guys on the field then that’s when I know it’s time to hang it up.”

RE: Personal Goals

“I am still chasing that ring as a player. That’s why we play this game. It’s not about money or anything other than winning the super bowl and we haven’t accomplished that yet in this organization.”

RE: Recent head injury statistics

“I think the league and the NFL PAs have dove in hard with solutions and ways to prevent these kinds of injuries. I think the new concussion protocol we have right now is a good start to improving the overall lives of players after the game when dealing with concussions and head injuries.”


RECEIVER RUSSELL SHEPARD

RE: A wide receiver to make a difference on the offense

“I think we’re all trying to figure out what coach was talking about. But just in general, just making plays and being consistent. I know a big part of my game has been the guy to bring energy to the team, to the room, and bring leadership. First and foremost, I’m going do my job. And that’s be a leader and be a consistent football player and be able to do multiple things. I take pride in being able to play all three receiver positions. I take pride in being able to be a special teams guy. I take pride in being able to encourage the guys when things don’t go well. So, first and foremost, I’m going to do my part and whatever coach wants after that.”

RE: Reaction about the studies of CTE  

“At the end of the day this job provides me opportunity to change my life and change my family life. So regardless of how high it was, I was going do this job. I’m going to do this to the best of my ability. Like I said man. I’m grateful for the game of football. It’s just something that comes with the game. If I wanted to do something different, I could’ve chosen another profession. But at the same time, I love this game. I’ve been playing it my whole life. Unfortunately, it’s just one of the negatives coming from being a football player. So, like I said, it’s something that you have to deal with. And at the same time, it comes with the territory. And like I said, the money that you make, the people that you meet, the scars that you get from playing this game, I’ll take it. Even with the CTE. I don’t even know how it turned out. It just comes with it but it doesn’t scare me though.”

RE: Reaction to studies of concussion and their results

“I think the smartest thing to do is pay attention. See how to best protect yourself. You know, whether its getting a proper helmet. Learning how to properly tackle. Being more of a technician, from what I’ve heard in the past, it decreases the chance of having those kinds of problems. And at the same time, it’s something that you can’t really run from. Like I said at first, the most important thing is being aware and figuring out how to best protect yourself so you can lower the chances of experiencing things post career.”

RE: Building a relationship with Cam 

“Well, like I said, Cam is a big reason why I’m here. I’ve followed Cam for numerous years and him being quarterback, probably till college. And me being a Texas kid. Watching him take a blend to the National Championship. Me being an SEC guy and watching him come into the SEC one year. Breaking all types of records. Taking Auburn to a National Championship. Watching him and his leadership style, his type of play, his confidence, his swag as he says, you know what I’m saying. I’m a big fan of Cam. Big fan of Cam Newton. I just look forward to making plays and being at the right spot at the right time. And build a relationship on and off the field. But I’m a pretty big fan of him. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well off the field. I just need to continue to keep gaining his trust on the field and make plays for him. Simple as that.”

RE: Cam talking a lot during practices

“I talk a lot, too. I’m a loud dude. I’m new to this organization so I’m not as loud as I’m going to be towards the end of the year. I get pretty loud, you know. But at the same time, it’s all for the good of the team. I’m not going to say something that’s out of line. My actions reflect strictly winning. Good vibes. Good energy. So, I just feed off Cam. I think Cam will feed off me. I’m looking forward to being loud with him.”

RE: If Tampa had a vocal player on offense

“I was that guy. Like I said, I was that guy. Jameis did a lot of talking. Jameis and Cam, they have a lot of the same traits. I think one is just younger than the other. They have similar backgrounds. They did things prior to get into the NFL. They are both very confident guys. They are both great generals on the field. Obviously different styles of play but very similar football players and style of leadership.”

RE: Joining Cam in Baltimore

“No, I didn’t make it. That was my wedding anniversary. So, my wife was going to kick my butt if I told her I wasn’t going be able to do things with her. But, like I said, the guys got some good work in. I kind of kept up with it. I talked to Cam and let him know what I had going on. So, I’m looking forward to getting out there today and catching balls for him. And just having fun.”

RE: Dealing with a former division rival

“It can be overwhelming if you let it get overwhelming. This is football. This is what you do for a living. I think a big part of being a professional is knowing that you can do it, and going out there and actually doing it. Confidence is a big, big part of being a professional athlete. Everybody is here for a reason. Everybody has it. It’s just about you believing in yourself and being prepared when it’s presented in front of you. Like I said, it can be overwhelming but, I’m going into my fifth year. I’ve been a guy, really prior to this year, I’ve being fighting for a roster sport every year. I’ve always had my back against the wall. I was an undrafted guy as well. So, I mean, it can’t get too much more overwhelming than that. An undrafted guy in this league, man. This is a cut throat league. I take pride in knowing my stuff. Take pride in being a competitor. And take pride in knowing I can do this.”

RE: The versatility of the offense

“It’s a big reason why I came here. I had a few options, man. Like I said, last year was a big breakout year for me as far as proving that I can be a guy catching the football. I’ve built a name for myself being one of the better special teams players in this league. So, when Vincent Jackson went down last season with a knee injury, I was asked to step in and play a big part of the passing game and the offense. I was able to do that because of my versatility. Being able to back up Mike Evans, being able to back up Vincent Jackson and Adam Humphries. I knew at some point I was going to be able to get an opportunity. I just didn’t know it was going to take me four years. Like I said, going through the process and figuring out which team I wanted to take that next step in my career with, the Panthers said they’re evolving and taking that next step, doing different things, and putting different pieces around Cam, trying to take that next step. That was, probably outside of Cam, the opportunity to be a leader in a young receiver room, which was probably the next big thing. Being able to evolve with this offense, being able to get in the backfield, being able to go outside/inside, being able to contribute to special teams when needed. Like I said, I’m excited to be a part about what we are doing here. I think it’s going to be kind of the new things in the NFL, going to a lot of more guys that can do multiple things. Guys that can line up here and line up there. I mean, the Patriots did it. They did it in a nice way. You see other teams gravitate towards it. I’m excited and I think it fits my skill set. I’ll be able to contribute here in some fashion.”

RE: The possibility of his kids playing tackle football

“It’s a tricky thing, me being who I am to my family. Obviously my son is probably going to want to play football. But, growing up in the state of Texas, football is number one. It’s going to be hard to fight him off from playing football. I think, depending on the skill level and what position your child is playing, you don’t need to play at a young age. I think you can wait till middle school and if you’re really talented and God-gifted, you can wait till high school. You got a lot of guys in this league that wait until they get into high school, and they still turn out playing in the pros. I think it depends on, obviously, the skill set of the child, the position you play, and as a parent, what you think is the best decision for yourself and your family.”

RE: His son’s age

“Moses (Sheppard) is fourteen months, man. He is the baddest walking thing in the whole earth. That’s my first born, man, and I tell Cam all the time that we got to get this duo going. I need Chosen to deliver the ball to Moses.”

RE: Trai Turner’s extension

“I’m extremely excited for him, man. I was the recruiting guy for LSU, so I hosted guys like Tyrann Mathieu. I hosted guys like Eric Reid, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, the list can go on with the talent I was recruiting guys for; bringing them in and showing them a good time. The funny thing about Trai is that, Trai was a bubble guy. Trai wasn’t a guy that we knew was going to come in and contribute. He wasn’t a guy that they had high hopes for. They knew he had a talent, but Tyrann Mathieu and La’el Collins, those are two guys that, obviously La’el Collins was the highlight as far as offensive class and Tyrann Matheiu was a teammate of his at St. Aug. (St. Augustine High School). To see that young man make it through all of that adversity, just kind of stay level headed, continue to keep working, is really a testament to his hard work and is just a good thing to see. You always want to see good things happen to good people. He has a great support system with his parents and he is a pro’s pro at a young age. I look forward to watching this young kid become, he’s already one of the best guards in the NFL, and I’m excited to watch him become one of the best players in this franchises history.”

RE: What it will take to translate talent on paper onto the playing field

“First of all, we need to be prepared, properly prepared. As far as on the field, communication is the very big thing on the offensive side, as well as the defensive side. When you’re taking the next step offensively and doing different things, you need to, in a sense, over communicate so you can be on the same page. I think that one of the most underrated things in life, in general, is being consistent. We consistently come out here, we prepare, we work hard, over communicate. We do those small things, I think we get small victories every day and I think it will lead to a very consistent and up swinging offense. Like I said, you don’t want to come out on the 100, you want to slowly build up so that when the playoffs come, those big time games come, you want to be able to always be on the uproar climbing. Do things the right way. Like I said, we’re not looking to come out the gate and be this huge news, crazy offense that everybody is talking about. We want to take it one step at a time, one rep at a time, and I think over time you’re going to see us add different things and be able to put guys in different positions to be successful.” ]


GUARD TRAI TURNER

RE: What the last few years have been like transitioning from LSU to the pros?

“How the tables turn, huh? I don’t know man, a lot of prayers, prayers answered, and hard work. That’s all.”

RE: What he purchased after he signed his contract

“I bought my dad a flight up to Charlotte with me, and that was pretty expensive the day of.  That was my first purchase, other than that, nothing.”

RE: Did he fly up the day he signed

“Yeah, Larry came with me and had a good experience with me and we had a good time.”

RE: His relationship with Larry

“It’s been awesome. I have a mother and a father that have both been present in my life and are still together. I am an only child, so I’ve been spoiled with love. And you know, it is awesome that they get to see me living out my dream, you know it’s pretty awesome to have them be a part of it.”

RE: On the offensive line this upcoming season

“I like where we are right now. I know we have a lot of work ahead of us. We have our first practice; we will be able to see what the new line brought. We are very optimistic on what we can do this season.”

RE: The relief of having a contract extension settled heading into the season

“Yeah, definitely. You know, just to know I am going to be here for some time. You know just having that behind me now, it’s not a thought about something that has to pop up in my head. It’s behind me now, so it’s all work and football now.”

RE: How much time he has spent with Christian McCaffrey

“From time to time, from time to time.  Nothing extensive. I’m pretty sure he’s reading our playbook right now. I’m giving him some time to get his feet wet. When the time comes we’ll be getting in check.”

RE: Impression of Christian McCaffrey

“Great Guy. Real humble. He’s a cool dude. Like I said I haven’t talked to him extensively, but I can tell he’s ready to go to work.”

RE: Relationship with Andrew Norwell

“That’s my guy. We came in together; we’re still here together. I mean we rockin. So we’re going to give it our best in every game we have.”

RE: Thoughts on whether the front office will give Norwell an extension

“Hopefully.” 


LINEBACKER BEN BOULWARE

RE: Did he sleep in the dorm bed

“I didn’t. I got to Wofford at 8:30 or 9:00 something like that. I want to embrace my bed one more time before this all starts. My mom brought up a mattress pad. I haven’t sleep on a bunk since the YT days and early on at Clemson. I’ve been living lavish.”

RE: What’s his mode in first training camp

“None really. It’s just all business. I honestly just want to earn a job. Keep living the dream. This has been a dream of mind for a long time. I have an opportunity to make it come to fruition. It’s really not too much emotions into it. It’s straight business. I understand the opportunity I have and I don’t want to let it pass up.”

RE: Any similarities between training camp and the national championship game

“Absolutely! That’s the best way to say it. There’s not a time where we had that much focus and effort and energy put into a week. This is a much longer period. The attention to detail we had at Clemson, especially our defense that week, we realized how big of an opportunity this is. This could be the rest of my life. I’m trying to pay the bills. Hopefully one day I can have a family and this is the way I want to do it. I realize this is a huge opportunity for me and this is really important to me. Just got to bring the same effort, energy, focus, and determination that I had during national championship week.”

RE: The Carolina Panthers being the perfect team for him

“Absolutely. I think this is the best place for me to play. I have the opportunity to learn from the best in the business. To learn from Luke, TD, and Shaq. It’s also a great support staff. I’m an hour away from home. By far this is the best opportunity for me to make the team and flourish.”

RE: Being a fan favorite

“It helps out. All the support I can get is very appreciative. I realize I have to take care of business on my end too. They’re not going to just let me make the team just because I’m the fan vote. I got to go out there and handle business every single day. Do my job and be accountable. Also be able to fit in where ever I need to be put. I’m very appreciative and this is why I like being close to home. This market and location is perfect for me. I hope there is a bunch of orange out there tonight and the rest of training camp.”

RE: Being around the veterans

“I remember my first start against Louisville. It was my first start and I was freaking out because Tony was out of the game and I was starting beside Stefan. Then Coach Venables was mad at me because I kept asking questions. Blowing up his phone. I just understood what was in front of me. I understood the people counting on me and the situation I was in. That first week I was starting against Louisville and blowing Coach Venables up, this is the same exact situation. I’m pretty sure I’ve made Luke mad, but he is the best in the business. I’m just annoying him. He’s the best in the business, and I understand what he is doing in his career and what he will continue to do. He’s a football guru. You don’t have a guy like that in a lot of other organizations. I’m a sponge to him. I’m blowing him up every day. When we are in the meeting room I’m tapping him on the shoulder. I’m annoying him, but in a good way. He understands how much I want this job and this opportunity. I think he’s okay with it, but probably gets annoyed.”

RE: Clemson’s White House visit

“That was cool. Just seeing the White House was cool. It is a lot of history that goes on behind those close doors that no one knows about. It was a good lesson for me and the whole team to learn about the paintings. Learning about those murals in the East Wing. Just learning that stuff was really cool. Also getting a shout out was really cool. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I got to see the Capitol Building. It was just a great trip.”

RE: Making the roster

Well, there are more than just two spots. The starting jobs are probably set but there are probably four other spots that are open. Everyone is competing for a job. At this point, I just want a job. I’m not trying to beat out Luke or TD. I just want to make the team at this point. I know they are taking more than two linebackers at this point. There are other spots open. Not much security, but it comes with being in the NFL. Everyone is fighting for a job out there. I might not be fighting for the number one job, but I’m fighting for a job. I wasn’t going to go in and try to start. There are spots open.

RE: How to make the roster

Just doing whatever. Mainly on special teams. Making an impact on that. If I get to go in, and it doesn’t matter how many reps, even if it’s 10, just make sure every rep is perfect. I want them to know they can count on me. Even if it’s small reps, I want them to know they can trust me; know that I can do my job as good as Luke or TD or any of those guys.

RE: Has he gotten a deal with Lunchables yet

Not yet. We are working on it. We are getting busy right now with camp, but my agents are working the phones as we speak.

RE: Facing DeShaun Watson in the preseason

He was in a bubble the past three years I was there. Coach Swinney wouldn’t let anyone touch him or your scholarship would have been pulled. Probably kicked off the team. Couldn’t even breathe on him. It’s no limits now, and we are not at Clemson any more. Hopefully I get to go in while he is in. Hopefully I get a good shot on him. I’ll give him a big hug and kiss afterwards. If the opportunity presents itself then I’m taking it. He’s pretty mobile. If I’m blitzing him and he sees me, he will give me a move, then go. He’s a pretty athletic guy.

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