2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Panthers defense will rely on strength of front 7

By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-28 15:24

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is the first to admit the front seven appears to be the strength of Carolina's defense.

At least on paper.

The Panthers bolstered their defensive tackle position by adding Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short with their first two draft picks, signed veteran linebacker Chase Blackburn to give them more depth at linebacker and hope to get three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason back to full strength this season after missing 12 games last year.

The hope is that the rookie defensive tackles help take up more double teams and free up defensive end Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, who combined for 23.5 sacks last season, to get more pressure on the quarterback. That, in turn, would then limit the amount of time their unheralded group of defensive backs will have to cover receivers.

``Every defense has an identity, and coming out of the shoot the front seven is certainly what we think on paper will be our strength,'' said McDermott, now in his third season with the Panthers.

The secondary still has questions marks with only one of the positions settled. Charles Godfrey will start at free safety, but coach Ron Rivera said the rest of the positions remain up for grabs.

Carolina released cornerback Chris Gamble and outside linebacker James Anderson this offseason, but the heart and soul of last year's 10th-ranked defense remains intact led by middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, the AP defensive rookie of the year.

``I like the continuity in the defense,'' McDermott said. ``I am excited about this year but we have a lot of work to do, like any team.

``Like I said to the players the other night, every team right now is sitting in a room thinking they have answered all of the questions in the offseason. We're no different. But what we do from this meeting going forward will separate us.''

Johnson and Hardy are perhaps the NFL's most underrated pass rushing tandem.

Johnson had 12.5 sacks and Hardy had 11 last year for the 7-9 Panthers, career-highs for both players. Carolina also got veteran defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who contributed six sacks last year, to re-sign for fairly cheap and feel the addition of 310-pounders Lotulelei and Short give them some much needed beef up front.

``Those guys are a threat to push the pocket inside and that helps our outside pressure,'' McDermott said. ``It all works hand in hand.''

Carolina's defense will continue to revolve around ultra-talented Kuechly, who became the first rookie to lead the NFL in tackles since San Francisco's Patrick Willis.

``The greatest thing about Luke is he understands that he's only one part of the defense and so he has to do his job within the defense and everything else will work out,'' McDermott said.

As for what's viewed as a patchwork secondary, McDermott believes the Panthers have plenty of players with ability, including free agent additions Drayton Florence and D.J. Moore at cornerback. Carolina will also rely on Captain Munnerlyn, who has started 34 games, and youngsters Josh Norman and Josh Thomas at corner.

A host of players are competing for the vacant strong safety spot, including D.J. Campbell, Mike Mitchell and rookie Robert Lester from Alabama.

``We've got players back there that have ability and we're just going to let them fight it out,'' McDermott said.

Godfrey said an improved pass rush should lead to more turnover opportunities for the secondary. He had two interceptions last season and said he'd be disappointed if he doesn't get eight this season.

``Our front seven is great and that's not a bad thing that people are talking about them,'' Godfrey said. ``That's true. They are really good. (But) you'll see. We'll make plays on the ball. It's not like we want to be better than them. We're all one unit and that's the way we're going to approach it.''

NOTES: Rivera said he was pleased with the tempo of the team's first full padded practice Sunday morning. ... Rivera said he expects Ted Ginn Jr., who caught two passes last year in San Francisco, will be a factor in the offense saying he believes Ginn can ``blow the top'' off the defense. ... Rivera said rookie guard Edmund Kugbila will have an MRI on his injured right hamstring.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Aldon SmithApr 17 09:32p

The San Francisco 49ers do not plan on releasing LB Aldon Smith this offseason. Smith is expected to be suspended at the beginning of the season, but the length [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 17 08:52p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee) said he expects to receive medical clearance to resume football activities in the near future. He underwent knee surgery in January but [ More ]

Sebastian VollmerApr 17 08:42p

New England Patriots OG Logan Mankins said OT Sebastian Vollmer (leg) has looked good this offseason while he recovers from the broken leg he suffered during the 2013 season.

Chris SneeApr 17 07:32p

New York Giants OG Chris Snee (hip, elbow) is expected to participate when offseason workouts begin next week even though he is not 100 percent.

Rolando McClainApr 17 06:02p

The Baltimore Ravens reinstated LB Rolando McClain from the reserve/retired list Thursday, April 17.

Russell AllenApr 17 05:02p

The Jacksonville Jaguars released LB Russell Allen, WR Jabin Sambrano and DEs Will Pericak and D'Aundre Reed Thursday, April 17.

Chad JohnsonApr 17 02:22p

Free-agent WR Chad Johnson (Patriots) signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League Thursday, April 17.

Brian CushingApr 17 01:32p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee) was medically cleared Thursday, April 17.

LaMichael JamesApr 17 10:04a

According to a league source, the San Francisco 49ers have been shopping RB LaMichael James. He finds himself behind RBs Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on [ More ]

Mike BrownApr 16 11:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Brown signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal Wednesday, April 16.

Eli ManningApr 16 11:33p

Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said in a radio interview this week that it is 'ludicrous' to say QB Eli Manning is declining. 'There's been no [ More ]

Sidney RiceApr 16 08:03p

The Seattle Seahawks are re-signing WR Sidney Rice to an undisclosed one-year deal Wednesday, April 16, according to sources.

Dwayne BoweApr 16 07:03p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty Wednesday, April 16, after being arrested last November for marijuana possession. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges of littering and defective [ More ]

Arian FosterApr 16 04:53p

The Houston Texans may consider selecting a running back during the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft that could become RB Arian Foster's backup in the future.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 04:43p

The New York Jets signed RB Chris Johnson to a two-year deal worth $8 million, with another $1 million in incentives available.

Terrelle PryorApr 16 04:33p

The Oakland Raiders hope to trade QB Terrelle Pryor before the start of the offseason program Monday, April 21.

Clay MatthewsApr 16 04:13p

Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews (thumb) said he likely will be limited during offseason workouts because of his surgically repaired thumb.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 03:53p

The New York Jets will use RBs Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory as a tandem this upcoming season and have them split carries. RB Bilal Powell will be the team's No. 3 running back.

Dan SkutaApr 16 03:33p

San Francisco 49ers LB Dan Skuta (foot) is not expected to need surgery on the foot injury that bothered him during the 2013 season. Skuta met with a foot [ More ]

Gus BradleyApr 16 02:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley watched Georgia QB Aaron Murray participate in his pro day Wednesday, April 16.

Reggie BushApr 16 02:13p

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell likely will receive similar workloads this upcoming season than they did during the 2013 season. Bush [ More ]

Cheta OzougwuApr 16 01:53p

The Chicago Bears have waived DE Cheta Ozougwu.

Mike JamesApr 16 12:53p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Mike James (ankle) said he is happy with the progress he has made in his recovery from an ankle injury and that he has been [ More ]

Carson PalmerApr 16 12:43p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer said he would understand if the team selects a quarterback during the 2014 NFL Draft, because he knows the team has to think about [ More ]

Josh FreemanApr 16 12:23p

The New York Giants have agreed to terms with free-agent QB Josh Freeman (Vikings). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:13p

Updating previous reports, retired LB Rolando McClain failed his conditioning tests during his workout with the Baltimore Ravens. The test consisted of six timed 150-yard runs.

Golden TateApr 16 10:53a

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate said he thinks he can be a 'more explosive Lance Moore,' referring to the former New Orleans Saints receiver. Moore caught 65 passes for [ More ]

Matt FlynnApr 16 10:01a

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Flynn is expected to compete with QB Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job, but head coach Mike McCarthy anticipates keeping three QBs on [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:03a

Retired LB Rolando McClain (Ravens) worked out for the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, April 15, as he attempts a comeback. The workout wasn't a smooth one in terms of conditioning, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 16 12:03a

The New York Jets are sticking to their budget/value system. While they want free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), they will not 'overpay' for him. The depressed running back market [ More ]

Aldon SmithApr 16 12:03a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith hasn't only lost the benefit of the doubt with the team, but he probably won't play with the team in 2014, according to [ More ]

Malcom FloydApr 15 11:53p

San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (neck) continues his rehab from a neck injury, but his status is still uncertain. When the team begins voluntary workouts April 22, Floyd [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group