Arizona D puts Rivera to (vocabulary) test

October, 5, 2013
10/05/13
8:00
AM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Not to suggest NFL coaches don't have expansive vocabularies, but they do talk a lot in X's and O's and refer to players by numbers more than names.

Payton
Rivera
So it came as a bit of a surprise when Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera answered how he would describe the defensive front the Arizona Cardinals use.

"A plethora,'' Rivera said. "A cornucopia.''

Give the coach an "A'' for sending readers of this blog to the nearest dictionary or thesaurus. Also give him credit for using his imagination to describe the wide variety of looks the Cardinals will show in Sunday's 4:05 p.m. ET game.

Although the Cardinals (2-2) run out of a base 3-4 scheme, they easily can transform into a 4-3 or even a five-man front that Rivera compares to the old Chicago Bears' 46 defense that was popularized by Buddy Ryan during their 1985 Super Bowl run.

The scheme is a big reason the Cardinals rank second in the NFL against the run, holding opponents to 75 yards a game. It is a big focus of Carolina game plan centered around the league's No. 3 rushing offense.

"It will be interesting to see how it unfolds for us,'' Rivera said.

It will be interesting to see if Cam Newton, the first running quarterback the Cardinals have seen this season, can loosen up the scheme with his versatility.

"You've got to be able to account for the different abilities, you've got to account for the quarterback runs,'' Rivera said. "If not the quarterback runs, you have to account for the play-action [pass].

"Their attitude in terms of wanting to stop the run is right on.''

Having players, particularly at linebacker, who can play up or down creates doubt for offensive linemen.

"You put offenses in position to where they have to prepare for different things,'' Rivera said. "If you can do that and do that well, you can create some headaches for the offensive coaches.''

No ten-dollar words are needed to say this game is going to be decided in the trenches.

Rivera, for the record, came close to spelling cornucopia when put to the test. He missed by only one letter.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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