Panthers' Rivera praises LaFell's consistency

Panthers' Rivera praises LaFell's consistency
March 23, 2014, 6:45 pm
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ORLANDO – After Ron Rivera dropped two minutes worth of Brandon LaFell praise on me, I asked the Panthers coach the obvious question.
 
“Why doesn’t LaFell play for you anymore?”
 
“It’s all about the financial structure and the way things are,” said Rivera, who coached LaFell for the past three years. “That’s just the way it is, unfortunately.”
 
LaFell signed a three-year, $9M deal with the Patriots last week.
 
Rivera’s praise was unreserved.
 
“You can expect a very consistent football player,” said the 2013 NFL Coach of the Year. “Tough. Physical. Plays with his heart. Don’t take his quietness for being aloof. He’s actually a shy guy. Good athlete. Catches in traffic.”
 
Rivera continued speaking in staccato scout-speak. Quick phrases. Few verbs.  
 
“Makes some really good catches. Drops some of the ones he shouldn’t,” he added.
 
Why does he have those drops, I asked.
 
“I think it’s a concentration thing,” Rivera opined. “He’s starting to try and run before he’s got the ball. But that’s only once in a great while. But his consistency as a football player you’re gonna love. And he’s a helluva blocker. He is one of the better blocking wide receivers I have been around in my 26 years in the NFL. Very smart football player. He’ll learn every one of those positions and he’ll play any of those positions those guys need him to. He can play outside, inside, slot, the X, the Z, the F the W and he can block.”
 
In short, LaFell is the kind of player any team would be happy to have. Except for . . . the financials.