Ron Rivera: No fighting, no live tackling for Panthers-Titans practices

Updated: August 16, 2017

4:38 PM ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — No fighting. No live tackling.

A lot of learning.

That’s what Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants joint practices against the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday and Thursday in Nashville to be about.

“It’s not to get into any B.S. or anything else like that going on,” Rivera said before the Panthers left for the Music City. “I’ve talked to coach [Mike] Mularkey and we’re going to do our best to contain that.”

Rivera had the same conversation in 2015 with Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin before joint practices at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

It didn’t work out quite like they planned. Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon and Carolina tackle Michael Oher got into a scuffle on the first day. The next day Vernon didn’t practice.

Several Carolina players already have said that fights, while not wanted by the coaches, are a byproduct of joint practices. At worst, somebody is going to lose their cool.

“That’s pretty safe to say,” safety Colin Jones said.

Whether a fight occurs remains to be seen. Other than one small skirmish, the Panthers were fight-free during three weeks of training camp at Wofford before returning to Charlotte for a Tuesday practice.

Rivera wants to keep it that way. He liked what the Panthers got out of the joint practices two years ago.

“It’s a new set of people to practice against, different philosophies and ideas, and it should help the players,” he said.

Rivera occasionally reminds his team about things the Panthers did prior to the 2015 season en route to a 15-1 regular season record and a trip to the Super Bowl.

Bringing in veteran players at key positions is one. That’s worked out well so far with the additions of 37-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers and 36-year-old safety Mike Adams.

Now come the joint practices.

“I like what we did in 2015,” Rivera said. “I thought we learned a good bit about our football team. It’s a real good way to get a measuring stick on your team other than just playing in a game.”

Rivera reminded that at this point in camp the offense and defense know each other so well that you don’t always get the maximum benefit from practice.

“It’s kind of crazy, but we’re out here competing against each other and our offense will make the call and the defense will know,” Rivera said. “The defense will make the call and the offense will know.

“Now we’re practicing against guys that have no idea and it goes really better that they don’t know.”

Whether that will help Carolina return to the success it had in 2015 it’s too early to tell. Rivera’s focus right now is getting through the next couple of days with a lot of knowledge and without an incident.

“More so than anything else the focus is the practice,” Rivera said. “We’re going to control the drills. It’s just about getting quality work against each other. That’s the biggest thing.”

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