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Falcons vs. Panthers: Carolina already has an eye on next season

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is focused on developing the young players on the roster.

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

The Carolina Panthers have been eliminated from playoff contention and will use the rest of the season to develop and evaluate the young players on the roster, according to Daniel Cox of

The Panthers fell to the Kansas City Chiefs on the road last week, 27-21, but had a chance to evaluate eight first- and second-year players in the loss. Rookies Amini Silatolu (guard), Luke Kuechly (linebacker), Brad Nortman (punter) and Joe Adams (punt-returner) all started in their respective positions for the Panthers.

The Panthers also started second-year right tackle Byron Bell and gave significant playing time to Sione Fua (tackle), Josh Norman (cornerback) and Frank Alexander (defensive end).

Rivera said he hopes to see the development of players moving forward. He has told the team not to worry about his job situation and to focus on their responsibilities in the game.

Rivera plans to continue to play his young players while declaring the rest of the season "an evaluation process for everybody."

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.