Panther Notes

"We're in good shape, but we know what it's like to get happy. We got happy before the Tennessee game and we go smashed. We got happy before Houston and we got smashed. We can't afford to get happy because you get smashed. We have to keep our noses to the dirt and keep playing hard." -- Panthers DT Kris Jenkins.

--The Carolina Panthers are considering doing away with their "Fan of the Game" award in which they interview one fan during the course of a home game.

"Obviously we want our fans to be enthusiastic, but I'm not sure we want to incite the opponent either," Panthers head coach John Fox said. "We'll deal with that later on."

Fox, however, said he'd let someone else deal with that problem. "That's not my lane. I always tell people to stay in their own lanes," Fox said. "But I'm sure it will be handled."

--In Carolina's 27-24 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday, Joseph Muscarello, who goes by the name "Carolina Prowler," called out two Tampa Bay players during a live interview that was broadcast over the loudspeaker in front of nearly 70,000 people.

"Let me tell you something Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice," the Prowler said. "You guaranteed a win. We guarantee we're going to kick your butt!"

The statement drew cheers from Panther fans, but seemed to backfire as it ignited the World Champions, who were down by six points at the time. Carolina, which had not allowed a sack for more than three quarters, gave up two to Rice on the next three plays.

After the game, left tackle Todd Steussie jokingly suggested the Panthers use a still photo of the Fan of the Game next time.

Center Jeff Mitchell went a step farther, saying in jest that the Prowler "should have his season ticket revoked. You've got to find that guy and get him out of here ... It's usually (receiver) Steve Smith that we're trying to keep quiet. He's usually talking trash to the d-line and now we've got some guy in the stands doing it."

--Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins held his tongue last week, but he unleashed his wrath on Tampa Bay offensive tackle Kenyatta Walker following Carolina's 27-24 win. Jenkins called Walker a "horrible" player and said he doesn't deserve to be in the NFL.

"When you have to hit somebody's facemask every play because you cannot block people fundamentally by yourself, you are supposed to be in the CFL or NFL Europe," Jenkins said. "You aren't supposed to be in this league."

Walker was penalized four times on Sunday, including twice for grabbing the facemask. The Panthers were outspoken about Walker's habit of grabbing the facemask following their Week 2 win over the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium.

In fact, Panthers head coach John Fox said he talked with officials before the game and asked them to keep an eye on Walker's potential for grabbing the facemask.

In the first game, defensive end Julius Peppers lined up against Walker. But on Sunday, Mike Rucker faced Walker more often. However, Peppers line up across from Walker a few times.

"I'm glad they finally started calling it," Peppers said. "But we're not relying on officials to get pressure to the quarterback. I think the defensive line played well and got pressure today."

Jenkins also took offense to Walker's trash talk on the field.

"He was doing all that talking before, talking about Pepp being sorry and Ruck being sorry," Jenkins said. "The last time I checked both of their contracts weigh a whole lot more than his does. He can't say nothing because obviously if he was that good he'd be doing Right Guard commercials like Sapp is. But he ain't. He's sitting at home. He's crying. ...

"If you are going to work with grown men then you are going to have to do something. At least show us where you can be credible as a man. For me, you step up as a man, show me something on the field, show me something off the field, but show me something. Don't run your mouth. He talks too much. I'm saying he sucks. There's no question about it, he's garbage. He's horrible."

Walker did not do interviews following Sunday's game. Jenkins said Sunday's game was personal for him because he didn't like the way Walker was jeopardizing the health of his teammates.

"If you are putting your hand in Peppers' facemask every play or when you're putting your hand in Rucker's facemask every play, then I can't give you any respect no more," Jenkins said. "We're all men and we know it's going to be physical. But you're getting to a point where you are trying to hurt somebody.

--Even though his team has a firm grasp on the NFC South division championship, Fox doesn't believe his team will lose its focus.

"I don't believe so," Fox said. "I think our guys understand how hard it is to win in this league and we just can't fall asleep at the wheel. I don't think this football team will do that."

--Fox was asked Monday if he talks to his players and tries to discourage them from making outlandish remarks like the one Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice made last week guaranteeing a Bucs win.

"I try to talk to our players about a lot so they can remain focused on what they have to do between the lines, I can't put muzzles on our players," Fox said. "But I stress to them how I expect them to act and for the most part they have done that."

--The Panthers made the decision to hold out running back Stephen Davis only after he ran for coaches about three hours before Sunday's game.

"Really we just want to make what the right decision is and not jeopardize him for the rest of the season -- and yet it was a big game and we needed him to play," Fox said. "But the right decision is we kept him out."

Davis apparently tried to persuade the coaching staff into letting him play, but to no avail.

"Stephen is a warrior and he wanted to play," Fox said. "But sometimes you have to use judgment over that. That game did mean a lot to him."

--As for Davis' replacement, DeShaun Foster, there was plenty of room for improvement after his 22-carry, 56-yard performance, according to Fox.

"He hasn't played a lot. He had some nice runs on the perimeter but I thought there were some runs he could have read better," Fox said. "He's not all oiled up quite yet, but I think it was a great experience for him."

BY THE NUMBERS: 4.5 -- Number of sacks Mike Rucker needs to eclipse Kevin Greene's team record.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're in good shape, but we know what it's like to get happy. We got happy before the Tennessee game and we go smashed. We got happy before Houston and we got smashed. We can't afford to get happy because you get smashed. We have to keep our noses to the dirt and keep playing hard." -- Panthers DT Kris Jenkins.

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