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Panthers owner David Tepper, frustrated by latest loss, says he won’t accept long-term mediocrity

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper would not address the future of coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney during a Monday meeting with Charlotte-based reporters, but made it clear he will not accept long-term mediocrity.

Tepper also made it clear no decision has been made on the future of quarterback Cam Newton, saying that can’t happen until the first pick of the 2015 draft is completely healthy.

Newton, who has one year left on his contract, recently was placed on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury that sidelined him after an 0-2 start.

Tepper’s meeting with reporters was held 24 hours after the Panthers fell to 5-5 with a 29-3 loss to Atlanta that put a big dent in their playoff aspirations.

Tepper said he didn’t sleep well after the Atlanta loss, the second time in four games the Panthers were blown out by an opponent. They were beaten 51-13 at San Francisco on Oct. 27.

“Every time we have a loss, my mood is s—-y,” said Tepper, adding that he never accepted losing on the business side, where he accumulated a $12 billion net worth as a hedge fund manager.

The Panthers have a 13-14 record since Tepper purchased the organization for an NFL-record $2.275 billion from former owner Jerry Richardson in 2018. If they post a losing record this season, it will be the second in a row and third in the past four seasons since reaching the Super Bowl in 2015.

Carolina’s record against NFC South opponents since 2015 is 7-14, compared to 14-4 in the three previous seasons.

Tepper’s frustration over losing was evident as he continually said long-term mediocrity would not be accepted. He also said fans, many of whom left the stadium early on Sunday, were smart enough to recognize long-term mediocrity.

Rivera, who this year surpassed John Fox as the winningest coach in team history, has an overall record of 76-61-1. The Panthers have a record of 195-198-1 since becoming a franchise in 1995.

Tepper made wholesale changes to the business side after purchasing the team from Richardson, who put the team up for sale amid allegations of sexual and racial workplace misconduct. The NFL fined Richardson $2.75 million after a lengthy investigation.

Tepper did not make changes to the football staff last season after a 7-9 record following a 6-2 start because Newton’s sore right shoulder played a factor in a seven-game losing streak.

Newton’s shoulder healed after offseason cleanup surgery, but he suffered a Lisfranc injury in the third preseason game and re-aggravated it in the second game. Tepper said that ideally Newton, 30, will recover fully from the injury and perhaps one day lead the Panthers to a Super Bowl.

Tepper said Newton has done a lot of good for the team and Charlotte, calling him one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Tepper also made it clear he liked Newton’s replacement, Kyle Allen, suggesting the second-year, undrafted quarterback has played above expectations despite throwing four interceptions against Atlanta and nine in the past four games.

The Panthers are 5-3 under Allen this season and 6-3 overall dating back to a victory in last season’s finale at New Orleans, where the Panthers play on Sunday. Allen started his career with a 5-0 record, making him the seventh quarterback in NFL history to get off to such a start.

Tepper defended the organization’s decision not to go to Colin Kaepernick’s workout in Atlanta on Saturday, saying the team has a young quarterback in Allen, a third-round pick in Will Grier, and Newton, so there was no interest in signing a veteran quarterback.

Tepper also said he has a copy of the video of Kaepernick’s workout, so attending the session wasn’t necessary.

Neither Rivera nor Hurney were a part of Tepper’s meeting. Earlier in the day, Rivera expressed hope the Panthers still could make a playoff run. He said they still control their own destiny with two games left against the Saints (8-2), a rematch against Atlanta (3-7) and contests against Washington (1-9), Indianapolis (6-4) and Seattle (8-2).

“Probably the biggest thing is we control it,” Rivera said of the team’s playoff hopes, even though the Panthers currently stand ninth in the NFC playoff hunt. “It’s one game at a time. It’s one focus at a time. That’s probably the biggest thing we have to do, is focus in on the next opponent.

“That’s just getting ready for New Orleans.”

Tepper’s focus, with future plans to move the team headquarters to a state-of-the-art facility in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and ultimately get a new stadium in Charlotte to host the Panthers and an MSL team, is to give fans hope and end the long-term mediocrity.

While he didn’t mention Rivera or Hurney, he appeared to be putting them on notice.

As Tepper indicated the day he was hired, his first priority is winning.

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Dolphins WRs DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson clear concussion protocol

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Miami Dolphins top receiver DeVante Parker has been cleared from the concussion protocol and he’s expected to play Sunday vs. the New York Giants.

Parker suffered a concussion in the second quarter of Sunday’s 22-21 loss to the New York Jets. He did not return after hitting his head on the ground following a difficult catch along the sideline.

Albert Wilson was cleared from the concussion protocol as well, meaning the Dolphins will have their two starting receivers back Sunday.

Parker’s return comes after he agreed to a four-year contract extension on Friday evening that is set to keep him in a Dolphins uniform through 2023. The extension is worth up to $40 million with an $8 million signing bonus and more than $20 million guaranteed, according to a source.

Parker and Wilson practiced throughout the week, donning red noncontact jerseys as limited participants Wednesday and Thursday before being upgraded to working the full session with those restrictions Friday.

The Dolphins’ offense has centered around Parker since Preston Williams went on injured reserve in early November.

Parker has a career-high 882 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season, and maybe most importantly he hasn’t missed a game yet for the first time in his NFL career.

Wilson has 26 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown in a season that has been slowed by multiple injuries.

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Sources — Terrell Suggs angling to be claimed by Ravens only

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Terrell Suggs, released by the Cardinals on Friday and eligible to be claimed on waivers Monday at 4 p.m. ET, will strongly consider not reporting if a team other than the Baltimore Ravens claims him, league sources say.

Any team that claims Suggs will owe him just over $350,000 for the final two weeks of the regular season. But Suggs doesn’t care about that money; he cares about returning to Baltimore, which is his overwhelming preference.

With a 12-2 record, the Ravens have the NFL’s lowest waiver claim, meaning every team will have the chance to claim Suggs before Baltimore. Knowing this, Suggs has told some people that he is unlikely to report anywhere other than Baltimore, wanting to finish his NFL career in the same city in which he started it.

The question is whether any contending teams that could use pass-rushing help — and many do — disregard the wishes of Suggs, who started 13 games for the Cardinals this season. The answer will come sometime Monday afternoon.

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Ravens’ Marcus Peters fined $14K for celebratory beer with fans

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For Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters, a celebratory drink cost him five figures.

Peters was fined $14,037 for drinking a beer after his pass breakup at the end of the game sealed the Ravens’ 24-17 win over at the Buffalo Bills last Sunday.

After knocking down Josh Allen’s fourth-down pass at the Baltimore 1-yard line with 1:03 remaining, Peters jumped into a section filled with Ravens fans at Buffalo’s New Era Field and shotgunned a can of beer while laying back in their arms.

The NFL fined Peters for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Baltimore clinched a playoff berth with Peters’ heroics. It was the latest big play by Peters, whom was acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in October. He has returned two interceptions for touchdowns since joining the Ravens.

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