<
>

Have Panthers become punch line for Jets?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera smiled this week when the name Antwan Barnes came up.

The Panthers don't play the New York Jets until later in the season, but the Jets linebacker already is giving the team bulletin board fodder.

In talking about the 4.5 sacks Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams had against Carolina last week, Barnes told Newsday, "It's the Panthers we're talking about.''

The story said it had gotten so bad for the 0-2 Panthers as they prepare for Sunday's game against the New York Giants that "they've become a punch line for the Jets.''

That is sad, considering the Jets (15-19) aren't much better record-wise than the Panthers (13-21) since 2011.

Rivera was aware of the quote.

"I know Antwan,'' he said. "That's his opinion. We just move on. We'll show up and play Sunday. We play the Jets this year, too. We'll see.''

No sympathy: Rivera stopped a reporter in mid-question when being asked about the Giants' banged up offensive line.

"If you're trying to get sympathy from me about people being hurt, it's not happening,'' said Rivera, who had 11 players on his injury list on Friday.

Weather forecast: There's a chance of rain on Sunday, but Rivera doesn't seem to mind.

"We'll find out who has the better run defense,'' he said.

Sounds like he likes his chances with his front seven.

Big fan: Rivera is a big fan of Giants coach Tom Coughlin and highly recommends his book "Earn the Right to Win: How Success in Any Field Starts with Superior Preparation.''

"If you want to be a coach in the league you should read his book,'' Rivera said.

Roll Tide: Robert Lester, an undrafted rookie, will start at strong safety for Carolina after being signed off the practice squad earlier in the week. But if he had one more year of eligibility he would have returned to Alabama just to have been on the field last weekend when the Crimson Tide beat Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M.

Did he want revenge for the 2012 loss that much?

"Yeah,'' Lester said. "That's the only college team that beat me.''

The Forgotten 1? If you missed ESPN the Magazine's piece on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton on the newsstand, it's online now. Check it out.