Fox: Lewis will make strong contribution

Last week the Panthers filled one of their three coaching vacancies when they hired former New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Tim Lewis as their new defensive backs coach.

A 12-year NFL coaching veteran, Lewis takes over for Rod Perry, who was fired Jan. 15.

"Tim's experience as both a player and coach in the NFL provide him with a sound knowledge of the defensive backfield," said Fox. "Our staff is familiar with him and we think he will make strong contribution to our defense."

After coaching defensive backs at Southern Methodist and the University of Pittsburgh, Lewis began his NFL coaching career with the Pittsburgh Steelers as secondary coach in 1995. He was named defensive coordinator in 2000, and the Steelers finished seventh in the NFL in defense in his first season. The next season the Steelers finished first in total defense and first against the run.

Lewis went to New York as defensive coordinator in 2004 and the Giants allowed 40 less points than the previous season. He helped New York reach the postseason the last two years as their run defense improved from 28th to 12th from 2004 to 2005.

However, Lewis was fired by Giants head coach Tom Coughlin after the defense finished 25th overall in yardage allowed (342.4 yards) and 28th against the pass (228.1 yards). The Giants also had the worst red-zone defense in the league and showed a propensity to collapse in the fourth quarter. In the final seven weeks of the season, the Giants lost four games in which they either led or were tied in the fourth quarter.

However, Lewis did the best with what he had.

The Giants were riddled with injuries throughout the season and played the final 11 games without linebacker LaVar Arrington and eight of the final nine without seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan. All Pro defensive end Osi Umenyiora and backup defensive end Justin Tuck (foot) combined to miss 16 games and veteran linebackers Brandon Short and Carlos Emmons also missed a combined 11 games with injuries.

--Cornerback Ken Lucas is looking forward to working with his new DB coach.

"I had an opportunity to interview with him when I was coming out of college and I haven't heard anything but good things about him," said Lucas. "I know the Panthers do a great job of bringing in quality coaches. I'm really looking forward to working with coach Lewis."

Lucas said he expects the secondary to improve next season.

"Coming in we had a lot of talent, but you never can account for injuries," Lucas said. "I felt like when we were healthy we played pretty well."

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