The Panthers overhauled other areas of the team heading into 2017, but kept the personnel in the secondary largely the same
CHARLOTTE – This summer, many http://www.hssmstore.com/cam-newton-jersey-c-1_8.html
of the questions about the Carolina Panthers have been centered around the new faces on the team. What dynamic can young guns Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel add to the offense? How will old heads Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn lift up the D?
There’s good reason behind the attention on newcomers – after a disappointing 6-10 season, Carolina may need new blood to return to the playoffs. But sometimes improvement is about bringing in a new player and upgrading a position. Sometimes it’s about the player who was already there working to get better.
Last year at this time, when the Panthers were wrapping minicamp in Charlotte, all the attention was on rookie cornerbacks James Bradberry and Daryl Worley. Josh Norman’s sudden and unexpected departure was the story that dominated the offseason, and the rookie corners were immediately into a difficult position. They needed to learn the playbook, get over that wide-eyed “I’m in the NFL” moment and replace the production of an All-Pro corner.
It didn’t go well early. The Panthers gave up 481 passing yards in a Week 4 loss in Atlanta, then 460 in a Week 6 loss in New Orleans. They started the year 1-5, and entering Week 7, Pro Football Focus ranked Carolina’s secondary as the worst in the league.
The bye week was rock bottom, and the secondary improved through the back half as the season as the rookies got more reps. Bradberry ended the season ranked as PFF’s No. 20 overall corner, and Worley found more consistency alongside him.
Now, the focus for the second-year players is to avoid slipping.
“Coming off of last year, that was one http://www.ky-oo32.com/ed-dickson-jersey-c-1_45.html
thing we wanted to focus on – not taking any steps backward toward our rookie year, just continue to move forward,” Worley said.
“In the offseason you have to kind of stay in your playbook. Don’t let everything become a foreign language to you when you get back here,” he added. “Coming back in, knowing your responsibilities - not being brand new to all the calls, it’s just kind of a refreshment, going over it.”
When safety Roman Harper left for New Orleans before the 2016 season, Kurt Coleman, now 28, became the veteran in the defensive backfield tasked with a leadership role. Coleman said this summer, he’s noticed a drastic difference from the young corners in their second year.
“I think first off when you understand what you’re doing, it allows you to see the field a little bit differently. You’re not always reacting but you’re able to kind of almost beat them to the punch, so to speak,” Coleman said. “These guys, James and Daryl, and Zack (Sanchez) for that matter, these guys have a natural I.Q. of football, but now that they’re able to understand what we’re doing they’re playing so much faster.”
Coach Ron Rivera echoed Coleman’s observations.
“I think they’re learning how to study and become pros, that’s the biggest thing,” Rivera said of the corners. “More so than anything else they’re learning how to be pros.”
The Panthers will be off for a Cameron Artis-Payne Womens Jersey
month before beginning training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg in July.