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Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera to ask NFL about Eric Reid ejection


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera plans to ask the NFL to explain why free safety Eric Reid was ejected for a shoulder-to-helmet hit on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the third quarter of Thursday night’s 52-21 loss.

Rivera, however, doesn’t plan to ask the league about Reid’s claim after the game to the Charlotte Observer that he was drug tested for “like the fifth time” since he was signed by Carolina in late September.

“They’re not going to catch me on anything,” said Reid, who in May filed a grievance against the NFL in which he claimed there was collusion to keep him unemployed because of his protests against social injustice during the national anthem while with the San Francisco 49ers.

Rivera said the drug testing was not a concern.

“I’ve got no issues on that,” Rivera said Friday. “That has nothing to do with what I have to deal with. I’m not in agreeance with what the decision was [on the ejection]. I get the penalty. I don’t get the ejection. I’m going to ask for an explanation as far as that’s concerned.”

The league does not administer drug tests or select those to be tested. That is done by an independent administrator.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy posted the policy on Twitter on Friday after multiple inquiries following Reid’s comments.

“Each week during the season, 10 players per club will be tested,” the policy says. “By means of a computer program, the policy’s jointly appointed Independent Administrator randomly selects before the game players to be tested.”

The league also has the right to eject a player in its effort to protect the quarterback and crack down on head injuries.

After hitting Roethlisberger at the end of a scramble, Reid was flagged for unnecessary roughness due to forcible contact to the head and neck area of a sliding quarterback.

Reid, who was subsequently disqualified from the game, said that he had no intention to hurt Roethlisberger and that he apologized to him afterward.

He agreed with Rivera that the ejection was not warranted.

But Reid seemed to take exception with again being drug tested as he took exception to being fined $10,026 by the league for his unsportsmanlike penalty during a 21-17 victory over Philadelphia.

Reid noted that Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who also was handed an unsportsmanlike penalty on the play after throwing Reid to the ground, did not get fined.

Reid also had an interception overturned in the final minutes that he felt was not justified.

Asked then whether he felt he was being slighted because of his collusion grievance, Reid said, “It’s interesting. I get fined. I got an interception overturned. We’ll see how this appeal here goes.”

Reid was the first player to join then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem to protest social injustice. Kaepernick, who also filed a grievance against the league, remains unsigned.



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Eric Reid ejected for hit on Ben Roethlisberger


PITTSBURGH — Carolina Panthers free safety Eric Reid was ejected in the third quarter of Thursday night’s game for a hit on the Pittsburgh SteelersBen Roethlisberger as the quarterback was sliding at the end of a 17-yard scramble.

Reid lowered his head with Roethlisberger already well into his slide and then delivered shoulder-to-helmet contact to the six-time Pro Bowl selection.

Reid was ejected for unnecessary roughness for “forcible contact to the head and neck area of a sliding quarterback.”

The play came with 1:03 left in the third quarter and the Steelers driving for a touchdown that would make it 45-14.

The Panthers in late September became the first team to take a chance on Reid, who filed a collusion grievance against the NFL when no team would sign him after he spent last season with the San Francisco 49ers. Reid said the league colluded to keep him off a roster after he spent the previous season kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.

He has continued to kneel during the anthem at Carolina and has not dropped the grievance.

New Panthers owner David Tepper, who had not addressed the decision to sign Reid until prior to Thursday’s game, was asked whether he had to give approval first.

“What did I say when I first came here?” Tepper said. “I said the first thing I want to do is? … Win. What was the second thing I said I wanted to do? That was also win. What was the third thing I wanted to do? Enough said.”



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Eric Reid of Carolina Panthers — Ron Rivera doesn’t have kneeling veto


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera consistently has made it clear he has no issue with safety Eric Reid kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against social injustice even if it goes against his personal beliefs having grown up in a military family.

Rivera has said repeatedly Reid simply is exercising his First Amendment rights.

“Very respectfully, he doesn’t have a choice,” Reid said on Wednesday when asked about having Rivera’s support in kneeling. “He’s entitled to his opinion, but I know what my rights are. His family was a military family much like many of my people were in the military. My cousin just got back from Afghanistan. My mom was in the armed services. My uncle was enlisted. The list goes on.

“But when they get home they’re still black in America. They’re going to fight the same wars when they get home and still face the same things I’m talking about. So I get encouragement from my family that served in the armed forces because they agree with what I’m saying.”

The Panthers (5-2) will honor the military during Sunday’s NFC South game against Tampa Bay (3-4) as part of “Salute to Service Week.”

Reid plans to kneel during the anthem just as he has the past four games since signing with Carolina. He is the only Carolina player who has taken a knee during the anthem since former San Francisco teammate Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during their 2016 season with the 49ers to protest police brutality and social injustice.

The closest the Panthers had to a protest before Reid’s arrival came during Week 3 last season when defensive end Julius Peppers stayed in the locker room during the anthem. Peppers has been on the field and standing since that game.

“Like I’ve always said about this stuff, the only time it’s a distraction is when you guys bring it up,” Rivera said of the media. “As I’ve always said, I try to keep these things separate. To me it’s about playing football. The players know how I feel about everything. It’s all about what’s going on out on the field.”

Reid said some fans have “yelled” at him in his two homes games with the Panthers. He said most of that occurs before the anthem as he’s warming up.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion, I’m expressing mine,” Reid said. “In the stands, I’ve always heard the people yelling. When I’m in the community, when I get approached, I can honestly say I’ve not had anybody say stop kneeling in public. It’s all been supportive.”

Reid and Kaepernick both filed grievances against the NFL when they weren’t signed by another team after the 2017 season. Kaepernick remains unsigned.

The two still work together on projects to fight social awareness and make more people involved in their cause. But it many ways, since signing with the Panthers, Reid has become the voice of the two.

Reid called Philadelphia safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the founders of the Players Coalition, a “sellout” and “neo-colonialist” after the two had a heated exchange prior to their game two weeks ago.

Reid twice following Sunday’s win against Baltimore went through a lengthy answer of why it was important to call out Jenkins when a second wave of reporters approached him.

“We didn’t start protesting for the NFL’s money,” Reid said. “So when we feel like a deal was done to end what we started, we take offense to that.”

Reid said Kaepernick continues to do more behind the scenes with their “Know Your Rights Camps” that don’t get the media attention. “He might not step in front of a camera often, but behind the scenes he’s working extremely hard,” Reid said. “He meets people morning to night on a daily basis.”

While Reid is getting more comfortable in Carolina’s defense and hopes his contribution helps the team achieve its goal of reaching the Super Bowl, he doesn’t mind all the questions about his cause.

“Football is a game,” Reid said. “The A gap is the A gap. The B gap is the B gap. Every team has good players. But this is more important to me. Football is my job, but this is my life. I believe I’ve got to speak up for my people.”

Jenkins said his end game “is to make change and empower people along the way.”

He thinks of the injustices he’s personally seen and read about in American history when kneeling.

“A lot of time it’s anger, knowing the context in which that song was written during the battle, knowing the verses that were omitted from that song,” Reid said. “That song was created talking about killing slaves.”

A verse in the full version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been the focus of controversy in recent years. Some historians argue it was written in celebration of the massacre of former slaves who were fighting for the British in the War of 1812.

“I think about the history I’ve educated myself on, the people that have been lynched by the people that were supposed to protect them,” Reid said. “Just the history of my people, it all runs through my head. Just the videos I’ve seen on social media the last three or four years, it lights a fire in me.”



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Eric Reid on Ron Rivera’s defense of his right to kneel — ‘He doesn’t have a choice’


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera consistently has made it clear he has no issue with safety Eric Reid kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against social injustice even if it goes against his personal beliefs having grown up in a military family.

Rivera has said repeatedly Reid simply is exercising his First Amendment rights.

“Very respectfully, he doesn’t have a choice,” Reid said on Wednesday when asked about having Rivera’s support in kneeling. “He’s entitled to his opinion, but I know what my rights are. His family was a military family much like many of my people were in the military. My cousin just got back from Afghanistan. My mom was in the armed services. My uncle was enlisted. The list goes on.

“But when they get home they’re still black in America. They’re going to fight the same wars when they get home and still face the same things I’m talking about. So I get encouragement from my family that served in the armed forces because they agree with what I’m saying.”

The Panthers (5-2) will honor the military during Sunday’s NFC South game against Tampa Bay (3-4) as part of “Salute to Service Week.”

Reid plans to kneel during the anthem just as he has the past four games since signing with Carolina. He is the only Carolina player who has taken a knee during the anthem since former San Francisco teammate Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during their 2016 season with the 49ers to protest police brutality and social injustice.

The closest the Panthers had to a protest before Reid’s arrival came during Week 3 last season when defensive end Julius Peppers stayed in the locker room during the anthem. Peppers has been on the field and standing since that game.

“Like I’ve always said about this stuff, the only time it’s a distraction is when you guys bring it up,” Rivera said of the media. “As I’ve always said, I try to keep these things separate. To me it’s about playing football. The players know how I feel about everything. It’s all about what’s going on out on the field.”

Reid said some fans have “yelled” at him in his two homes games with the Panthers. He said most of that occurs before the anthem as he’s warming up.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion, I’m expressing mine,” Reid said. “In the stands, I’ve always heard the people yelling. When I’m in the community, when I get approached, I can honestly say I’ve not had anybody say stop kneeling in public. It’s all been supportive.”

Reid and Kaepernick both filed grievances against the NFL when they weren’t signed by another team after the 2017 season. Kaepernick remains unsigned.

The two still work together on projects to create social awareness and make more people involved in their cause. But it many ways, since signing with the Panthers, Reid has become the voice of the two.

Reid called Philadelphia safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the founders of the Players Coalition, a “sellout” and “neo-colonialist” after the two had a heated exchange prior to their game two weeks ago.

Reid twice, following Sunday’s win against Baltimore, went through a lengthy answer of why it was important to call out Jenkins when a second wave of reporters approached him.

“We didn’t start protesting for the NFL’s money,” Reid said. “So when we feel like a deal was done to end what we started, we take offense to that.”

Reid said Kaepernick continues to do more behind the scenes with their “Know Your Rights Camps” that don’t get the media attention.

“He might not step in front of a camera often, but behind the scenes he’s working extremely hard,” Reid said. “He meets people morning to night on a daily basis.”

While Reid is getting more comfortable in Carolina’s defense and hopes his contribution helps the team achieve its goal of reaching the Super Bowl, he doesn’t mind all the questions about his cause.

“Football is a game,” Reid said. “The A gap is the A gap. The B gap is the B gap. Every team has good players. But this is more important to me. Football is my job, but this is my life. I believe I’ve got to speak up for my people.”

Jenkins said his end game “is to make change and empower people along the way.”

He thinks of the injustices he has personally seen and read about in American history when kneeling.

“A lot of time it’s anger, knowing the context in which that song was written during the battle, knowing the verses that were omitted from that song,” Reid said. “That song was created talking about killing slaves.”

A verse in the full version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been the focus of controversy in recent years. Some historians argue it was written in celebration of the massacre of former slaves who were fighting for the British in the War of 1812.

“I think about the history I’ve educated myself on, the people that have been lynched by the people that were supposed to protect them,” Reid said. “Just the history of my people, it all runs through my head. Just the videos I’ve seen on social media the last three or four years, it lights a fire in me.”



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Josh Norman unhappy Eric Reid’s comments on Players Coalition


ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Redskins corner Josh Norman called Eric Reid‘s comments earlier in the week a slap in the face to the Players Coalition, criticizing the Carolina Panthers safety Thursday.

Reid went after Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins Sunday, first on the field during the coin toss and then with his postgame comments, claiming that Jenkins and the coalition had “sold out” to the NFL and had co-opted the message from Reid and Colin Kaepernick.

“To hear Eric come out and do what he did it’s almost like, wow it’s a slap in the face,” Norman said, “because Malcolm has been nothing but stand-up in the Players Coalition, like nothing but stand-up, and everyone knows that.

“For him to take a shot like that … he’s not only taking a shot at him he’s taking a shot at everyone in the Players Coalition.”

Norman spoke to the media for 16 minutes, 46 seconds Thursday, with more than nine minutes devoted to what happened Sunday between Reid and Jenkins. Norman’s first response — to a question on whether he had a comment on what happened — lasted approximately four minutes. Norman referenced an article on The Undefeated which laid out the issues between Reid and Kaepernick in particular and the coalition. Reid said Sunday that Jenkins “co-opted” the movement that Kaepernick began.

The Undefeated article spelled out the issues, starting with the owners meeting in Dallas last November. The coalition was going to meet with the owners to discuss issues and eventually received $100 million to help with their causes. Reid and Kaepernick did not attend. Other players broke from the coalition as well, partly because they wanted Kaepernick, whose initial pregame actions in 2016 started the dialogue, to represent them to the league.

“Our take was I’m sorry but if guys voted for him to be that then OK so be it, but it wasn’t that,” Norman said. “He started something at that time in which everybody saw but what did he do with that? Where was the ball carried from that? What is it doing now to the point where someone can get behind?

“If that’s your agenda, to have someone who is the leader of something, I don’t feel like the leader is being backed by one person. A leader has to be backed by everyone. And if they decide they don’t want to go that route, then hey, you’re not going to show up? We don’t know what direction you’re trying to go in. We’re all trying to go in the direction of helping people. That is the main objective here. It’s not who gets this or — it’s not a parade here.”

Norman didn’t like that lawyers got involved last year.

“I can’t respect that as a man,” he said. “You’ve got to come and talk to us directly.”

Norman also pointed to what players in the coalition are doing in the communities, such as Jenkins, Demario Davis and Anquan Boldin among others. Kaepernick has been active as well. Norman said he called Reid twice this week, but never talked to him. A week before facing the Eagles, Carolina played at Washington. There was no confrontation between Reid and Norman.

“Eric knows his stuff,” Norman said. “I’d tell him the same thing. He saw me the week before everything he did. He could have said that. But I just feel like that all is for show.

“If you want to be a parakeet: ‘What you say, Kap?’ ‘What you say?’ You can say that all you want, but the thing is, you can’t tell another man what they doing if they’re not gonna come in here and be a man about themselves and tell us the direction of what you want to do.”

Norman said he wasn’t trying to shun Reid, but kept saying he just wanted the facts to emerge from what happened last November.

“At the end of the day I don’t really care about all that outside stuff,” Norman said. “That’s all for the shows and the glamour and the Instagram and what you take pictures on. No this is all realistic stuff here.

“What’s your agenda? Is it to play football or is it to go in someone’s face about what you feel like happened to you?” Norman said. “In that case you could have burned me last week, I’m part of the group. He didn’t do that. Like I said you have your own agenda about what you want to do, follow that, whatever, do your own thing, be merry with each other, that’s cool, be merry, run around the merry-go-round.

“Best to him and his homeboy Kap and whatever they got going on. Best to them. Whatever.”

For Norman, it came back to leadership and he likes the direction Jenkins has provided — and did not like what he described as the lack of leadership previously.

“I can’t follow you into the abyss,” Norman said. “I mean you got to have a plan, you got to have something in motion.”



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Eric Weddle calls Cam Newton of Carolina Panthers ‘fast dinosaur’


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is often referred to as “Superman” because of his touchdown celebrations. The Baltimore Ravens described him in more prehistoric terms heading into Sunday’s game.

“He’s a fast dinosaur, muscular and big and runs people over,” Ravens safety Eric Weddle said Wednesday. “He’s a very unique quarterback in this league. He’s the only one really like him.”

What kind of dinosaur?

“What’s the one with the horns and charges?” Weddle asked.

A reporter said triceratops.

“Yes, that one just bowls people over,” Weddle said.

Newton is the only quarterback in NFL history to record six seasons of at least 3,000 yards passing and 500 yards rushing. He joined Michael Vick as the only quarterbacks to run for at least 700 yards in three NFL seasons.

This isn’t the first time that Newton has been called a dinosaur. Trooper Taylor, a former assistant at Auburn, used to call him that.

“I always asked him, ‘Why do you call me a dinosaur?'” Newton said. “He said, ‘Your talent is extinct. They don’t make them like you no more.’ I always laughed, but if you look around this league, and I’ve tried to warn a lot of people prior, too, but it’s not cocky, it’s not confidence, it’s just self-belief in yourself, knowing that the talents that you possess, a lot of people can’t say that they have.”

The main topic of conversation among Ravens defenders was going against Newton and the challenge of getting a 6-foot-5, 245-pound quarterback to the ground.

The Ravens have allowed six runs of 10 yards or more to quarterbacks this season. Baltimore has given up the 13th-most rushing yards to quarterbacks this season.

“Superman … how often do you get to play against a superhero?” said linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has a half-sack in his only game against Newton. “His nickname speaks for itself. He’s definitely going to be difficult to bring down. Hopefully, neither one of us will have to do it by ourselves.”

Newton currently ranks 14th in passer rating (94.7) and leads all quarterbacks with 257 yards rushing.

Ravens safety Tony Jefferson has faced Newton three times while with the Arizona Cardinals, including twice in the postseason. Newton won all three games, throwing for four touchdowns and running for two.

“I’ve gotten to see the best of him,” Jefferson said. “It’s never really easy going against a quarterback like that who can make all the throws.”

ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton contributed to this article.



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Eric Reid’s grievance against Bengals denied by arbitrator


A grievance filed against the Cincinnati Bengals on behalf of Eric Reid was denied by an independent arbitrator, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The NFL Players Association filed the grievance on behalf of Reid after Bengals owner Mike Brown reportedly asked if Reid would continue standing during the national anthem.

Reid was brought in by the Bengals for a free-agent visit at the time but was not signed. The grievance argued that the Bengals negotiated in bad faith because the team had no intention to sign Reid if he said he would continue to kneel — despite the fact that standing for the national anthem is not mandated in the collective bargaining agreement.

According to the NFL Network — which first reported the news — the arbitrator ruled the Bengals were within their rights to ask if Reid would continue to kneel. Reid began kneeling during the anthem during the 2016 season when he was with the San Francisco 49ers, as a way to support Colin Kaepernick and draw attention to issues of social injustice.

Reid remained a free agent until he was signed by the Carolina Panthers in September and has continued to kneel during the national anthem. Kaepernick, who was the first player to begin kneeling during the anthem, remains unsigned and hasn’t played since the 2016 season.

Reid got into an argument with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins on Sunday after he called Jenkins a “sellout”

Reid and Jenkins have been feuding since Jenkins, the cofounder of the Players Coalition, stopped raising his fist during the anthem after the NFL announced it would donate $100 million to causes considered important to the coalition.

“He co-opted with the movement that was started by Colin to get his organization started. It was cowardly. He sold us out,” Reid told reporters.

Reid and several other players withdrew from the coalition in November 2017, and he has since called it an “NFL-funded subversion group.”

The Bengals have not commented on the ruling.

Reid still has a grievance pending against the NFL. In May, Reid and his attorney, Mark Geragos, filed the grievance, alleging that team owners and the league, influenced by President Donald Trump, colluded to prevent his employment because of his protests. Kaepernick filed a similar grievance and an arbitrator recently sent it to trial, denying the league’s request to have it thrown out.



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Eric Reid already at odds with Panthers rookie … over who has the best hands – Carolina Panthers Blog


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On his first day of practice with the Carolina Panthers, safety Eric Reid on Monday already was in a dispute with one of his new teammates.

It had nothing to do with protesting or kneeling during the national anthem.

It had everything to do with bragging rights.

“He actually said he has the best hands in this secondary,” said rookie cornerback Donte Jackson, who, like Reid, is a former LSU star. “I was like, ‘How?’ I told somebody to get him a Snickers, he’s not himself when he’s hungry.”

Reid laughed, then made it as clear that he had the best hands in the secondary as he did that he would continue his collusion case against the NFL.

“Also, without a doubt,” he said. “No question.”

No doubt the addition of the 26-year-old Reid, signed to a one-year deal on Thursday after veteran Da’Norris Searcy was placed on injured reserve with his second concussion in a month, has made the Carolina secondary better. He is a five-year veteran and a 2013 Pro Bowl selection.

His grievance with the NFL over colluding to keep him unemployed because he was the first player to join former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem didn’t seem to matter to Jackson nor any other Carolina players.

“He adds a lot of talent to this unit,” Jackson said.

There’s also no doubt Jackson, 22, has made the Panthers (2-1) better. He already has three interceptions, tying him for the NFL lead and which something no Carolina defender has done in the first three games.

Only seven other players in NFL history have three picks in their first three games.

“He’s good,” said Reid, personal feelings about Jackson’s hands aside. “He can be great. He just has to work, and keep working. He has what it takes.”

That both players hail from LSU, otherwise known as DBU, should come as no surprise.

During a 13-year stretch (from 2006 to 2018), 20 players from the LSU secondary were drafted. In the previous five years only two were picked.

Patrick Peterson, drafted No. 5 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2011, was the highest-drafted player in the group that also includes Jamal Adams (No. 6, 2017) of the New York Jets, Corey Webster (No. 43 overall, 2005) of the New York Giants and Tyrann Mathieu (No. 69 overall, 2013) of the Cardinals.

San Francisco drafted Reid with the No. 18 overall pick in 2013. The Panthers, in the second around, made Jackson the 55th overall pick in the 2018 draft.

That Jackson and Reid understand how hard it is to get on the field at LSU, which yearly has one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, unites them through a bond — one they enjoyed on Monday when walking to practice together for the first time.

“I don’t even think we were talking about football at that time,” Jackson said. “LSU, whether you played with the guy or not, it’s still a brotherhood.

Jackson: ‘I’m like that’

Jackson was passing by Captain Munnerlyn‘s locker at about the same time the nickelback was asked what Jackson brings to the Carolina secondary.

“Donte?” Munnerlyn said. “He brings a lot of mouth to the group.”

Swagger is one of two reasons — the other his speed — why the Panthers drafted Jackson. Coach Ron Rivera has said repeatedly it’s similar to the swagger Josh Norman brought to the group during the Panthers Super Bowl 50 run.

That swagger never was more evident than in a 2015 game against the New York Giants, who visit Bank of America Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (Fox).

Odell Beckham Jr. was flagged three times for unnecessary roughness — twice on one drive in the third quarter — and suspended for the following game by the league for a malicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman. The Carolina cornerback was called for unnecessary roughness once.

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Panthers coach Ron Rivera on safety Eric Reid: ”We feel strong about who he is as a young man and who we are as an organization.” Rivera said he and Reid had a good conversation about their beliefs on the anthem and the NFL protests. Feels good about that. Video by David Newton

“Chippy game,” recalled Jackson, who watched it on television as a college sophomore. “Those guys obviously had a feud against each other. It was a great game to watch for me.”

Jackson doesn’t get chippy with receivers, and he doesn’t plan to start even if he gets a chance to face Beckham. It’s just not his style. Whether he gets that chance remains to be seen, as James Bradberry is expected to draw the assignment on OBJ.

But Jackson doesn’t hesitate to let receivers — and teammates — know how good he is.

“Every time he makes a play, he says, ‘I’m like that,’ ” Munnerlyn said. “I guess he’s just letting everybody know he’s good. He makes a play on the field, we say, ‘Good job.’ He says, ‘I’m like that.'”

Backing it up with speed

Munnerlyn pointed to a play against Atlanta in Week 2 when Jackson missed the tackle at the line of scrimmage, got up and chased the running back down.

That play shows why Jackson might be better than Norman was as a rookie, when he started the first 12 games before getting benched.

“No disrespect to Josh, but Donte is a whole lot faster,” Munnerlyn said. “I’ve never seen too many guys with that speed.

Or with that kind of confidence as a rookie. Just don’t count Jackson among those surprised by his fast start.

“Me? Surprised? Nah,” he said. “I’m not surprised at myself. I expected this. I put a lot of work into this. Learned a lot from these guys. These guys helped me gain confidence.”

Playing for LSU also helped Jackson in the same way it helped Reid and others.

“The speed of the game. It’s almost like the NFL,” Munnerlyn said. “The speed of the game and the competition you’re going against, it gets you ready for the NFL.”

Rivera agreed.

“It’s probably the elite conference,” he said. “When you play against that competition year in and year out, you’re going to develop your skill sets. LSU, they recruit those type of players, so you’re going to have a number of them that come out each year.”

‘Changed my life’

Reid can’t wait to get into a game with Jackson. He can’t wait to get in a game with his new defense in general.

Reid said it reminds him of the San Francisco unit he joined as a rookie when he made the Pro Bowl with a career-high four interceptions and beat the Panthers in a divisional playoff game en route to the NFC Championship.

“We had Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Alden Smith, Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks … we had some guys,” Reid recalled. “Walking on the field brought me back to that. Julius Peppers is out there and I’m saying, ‘Oh, my goodness!’

“I’m excited to play with those guys.”

Nobody is more excited to play with Reid than Jackson. The 2011 LSU team Reid was a part of, finishing as a runner-up in the national championship game, “changed my life, made me want to go to LSU,” Jackson said.

Reid, in particular, caught Jackson’s eye because of his number.

“He wore my favorite number, which was No. 1, and I ended up taking over that number when he was gone,” Jackson said.

Reid and Jackson also are natives of Louisiana, Reid from Baton Rouge and Jackson from New Orleans. So not only do they talk football, they talk favorite foods and local places to go.

That the Panthers took a chance on Reid when no other team had throughout the offseason means a lot to Jackson and a unit that was considered the weak link coming into the season.

“It just says a lot about our front office, that they want us to be a Super Bowl-winning team,” Jackson said. “Anytime you get talent like that, you know you’re going in the right direction.

“He makes an already good secondary better.”

As for which player has the best hands, that will take care of itself.

“He dropped two today,” Reid said of Jackson. “I’ll just leave that out there.”



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Torrey Smith would like Carolina Panthers to give shot to Eric Reid


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers need a free safety, and wide receiver Torrey Smith would like to see former San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid get a shot.

“I think we all know why he hasn’t received a call,” Smith told reporters on Tuesday as the Panthers (2-1) broke for their bye week.

Reid in 2016 joined former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial equality and police brutality.

Last season, the NFLPA filed a grievance with the NFL on Reid’s behalf, alleging team owners and the league, influenced by President Donald Trump, colluded to prevent his unemployment because of his protests.

He became a free agent this past offseason and remains unsigned although several teams, including the Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, have lost a starting safety to injury.

Smith, acquired by Carolina in a trade with Philadelphia during the offseason, has defended the rights of Kaepernick, Reid and others to protest.

He would be more than willing to sit down with the Carolina coaches and make a case for signing Reid, 26, to replace veteran Da’Norris Searcy, who was place on injured reserve last week after suffering his second concussion in a month.

Smith called Reid, a 2013 Pro Bowl selection, a “great leader” and one of the “best men that I know.”

“Honestly, with our injuries, I hope he ends up here,” Smith said. “I know how he is as a talent. If this is something where they come and talk to me about him, I’ll be glad to talk about him as a player, as a person. He’s one of the best men I’ve been around, so I hope that is something that can happen for us because I know that with the injuries we have, he’s a guy that can help this team.

“I really hope he gets a shot. He deserves it, and it’s not right what’s happened to him.”

The Panthers played with a three-safety rotation on Sunday against Cincinnati, starting Mike Adams at strong safety and Colin Jones at free, with rookie Rashaan Gaulden giving relief.

They signed Dezmen Southward, who was with the team in camp, to the practice squad on Monday and also have safety Cole Luke on the practice squad.

Rivera, asked directly about Reid, replied only that the team has discussed several names for the fourth safety spot. He said Southward “definitely” has a chance to move to the 53-man roster by the time the Panthers next play against the New York Giants on Oct. 7.

So it doesn’t sound like Smith, who has been helping promote social justice causes for the NFL “Players Coalition,” will get a chance to plead his case on Reid.

“Both of those guys should be playing,” Smith said of Reid and Kaepernick. “They should be in the league, both of them.”



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Cancer survivors James Conner, Eric Berry ‘try to be an inspiration to others’


PITTSBURGH — James Conner was catching up with an old friend when he hugged Eric Berry after last week’s game, but he also appreciates the deeper meaning behind the embrace: Two cancer survivors celebrating another NFL Sunday together.

The embrace between the Steelers running back and the Chiefs safety went viral after Kansas City’s 42-37 win inside Heinz Field.

“We’re just happy we’re in the position we’re in, to be able to inspire others and we’re both thankful to continue playing the game we love,” Conner said. “We’re just thankful.”

Conner overcame Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2016 before playing another season at Pitt and getting drafted by the Steelers in the third round.

He had a blueprint of sorts in Berry, who beat lymphoma in 2015, worked his way back to elite form with the Chiefs and earned a $78 million extension in 2017.

Conner said Berry kept in touch with him during his cancer fight and calls him a “great dude, good person.” Berry, a Pro Bowler, didn’t play in Sunday’s game because of an injury, while Conner has 257 total yards through two games as Le’Veon Bell’s replacement.

“We share stories. We know exactly what it’s like,” Conner said of his relationship with Berry. “It just goes to show with a strong mindset you can still achieve your dreams. It’s a mental fight. We have a tough task playing in the NFL. We just try to be an inspiration to others.”





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