Defense faces tough task against Packers

The Panthers secondary was one of the more maligned units the first month of the season. But now, the defensive backfield has become one of the strengths of a team that is clearly lacking strength in most areas.

The Panthers secondary was one of the more maligned units the first month of the season.

But now, the defensive backfield has become one of the strengths of a team that is clearly lacking strength in most areas.

However, the secondary will be tested this week when the Panthers face Brett Favre and the high-flying Green Bay Packers (8-1) at Lambeau Field.

"It's tough regardless if Green Bay is doing well or not," cornerback Ken Lucas said of playing in Green Bay. "They just have that mystique.

"They use the weather to their advantage whenever they play at home, especially this time of year. It's going to be another great challenge for the secondary to go there and compete against those guys. They are doing very well, and Brett Favre is doing a great job of putting the ball in the air and giving his wide receivers chances to make plays."

Lucas and Chris Gamble are playing extremely well, and the Panthers have received strong play from safeties Chris Harris and Deke Cooper, although Cooper left Sunday's game with a shoulder injury.

The secondary has played pretty well, especially considering the lack of a pass rush. The Panthers have just nine sacks through nine games.

Defensive end Julius Peppers, once one of the more dominant players in the league, has been very average this season with 1.5 sacks, all coming against the Arizona Cardinals. Mike Rucker, who has battled back from knee surgery, finally got his first sack Sunday.

The difficulty for the defense this year has been playing with almost no margin for error.

Because of the team's struggles to keep a healthy quarterback on the field, the offense has been brutal. In four of the team's five losses this season, the offense has failed to score more than one touchdown.

"That is what is happening with the losses -- our defense is doing a nice job, but we have to figure out a way to score points," offensive tackle Jordan Gross said. "You're never going to win in the league scoring less than 10 points. This game (a 20-13 loss to the Falcons) was a pretty good example of that."


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