COLUMN: On Second Thought

Like most Panther fans (not to mention Panther detractors), I've been pretty concerned with the state of our cornerbacks this year. Looking at the group we brought into training camp did little to inspire confidence. Our hopes were riding on guys who were either trying to recover from devastating injuries or trying to start for the first time. It has been said by many, myself included, that we had the finest collection of nickel backs in the NFL and not a starter in the group. What were we to do?

 

Then last night, the Panthers signed Terry Fair. Fair isn't a world-beater, nor is he going to repair our corner problems all by himself. If he were that dominant, the Lions would have found a way to keep him. But it occurred to me that he makes a fine piece of the puzzle. Look at who we have starting, at least for now. Nobody is going to confuse Terry Cousin and Reggie Howard for Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes, but they can be solid. Throw a genuine NFL starter like Fair into this mix, and it could get interesting. If he bumps Howard to nickel back, as many fans expect he will, we improve our depth. Factor in the recently acquired Emmanuel McDaniel, and things look good for the dime package (Who knows, maybe McDaniel could leap-frog into the nickel package with his knowledge of Fox's defensive style). Behind the main four, we have rookies Dante Wesley and Brad Franklin learning the craft.


I'm not fooling myself into thinking this group is going to dominate the offenses it faces. They still have to integrate the new players quickly and shuffle the starting/nickel/dime order, but things look better than they did a month ago. Don't you wish we had gone to camp with this bunch? They're mostly young and fast. I think they're hungry. Some want to prove they're worthy of starting in this league. Some have chips on their shoulders. And they all seem to be scrappy, a quality which we'll need in the worst way. For what it's worth, I think we can hang with this group. It's possible we can even win a bit with them. All I know is I feel better about the Panthers' secondary today than I did yesterday.


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