Charlotte, NC - Defensive end Mike Rucker was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Month for September. Rucker has five sacks, which ranks third-best in the NFL, 21 tackles and 12 quarterback pressures through Carolina's first four games and helped get the Panthers off to their best start since 1996 at 3-1.
Rucker is only the fourth Panther in the eight-year history of the franchise to get an NFC Player of the Month honor. The others were linebacker Sam Mills, who was named Defensive Player of the Month in November of 1995 and in November of 1996; wide receiver Patrick Jeffers, who was named Offensive Player of the Month for December of 1999; and place-kicker John Kasay, who was named Special-Teams Player of the Month for September of 1996.
"I was surprised," Rucker said. "After practice, Coach always calls us up and gives us a couple words. So he mentioned it and it was a surprise to me."
The Panthers defense ranks first in the NFC against both the run and the pass, and is only giving up 239.8 yards per game. Carolina leads the NFL in sacks with 17 as well.
"I feel like our team is definitely on an upswing," Rucker said. "I'm just happy to be a part of it and contribute to us winning anyway I can."