Carolina Panthers' Secondary Rising to Occasion

By Rich Welch
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers‘ defense has received a lot of hype since finally addressing their needs at defensive tackle in the draft, solidifying a young defensive front that billowing with talent. They have more than lived up to the hype this season, ranking fourth in rush defense, fifth in passing defense, second in scoring defense and third in total defense.

They’ve been the unit the unit that the team has been able to count on throughout the season in spite of all the inconsistency in the offense, and the injuries that many thought would cripple the defense.

The Panthers’ secondary was a huge question mark coming into the season, with longtime standout Chris Gamble departing and a host of young players trying to fill his shoes. Things looked bleak when Charles Godfrey, by far Carolina’s best defensive back, went down for the year with an Achilles’ injury, along with a host of other DBs that were injured during the Buffalo game.

Rookies like Robert Lester and Melvin White were forced into starting roles, and no one would have been able to predict the result.

Instead of folding under the pressure, the young bloods rose to the occasion and started making game-changing plays, forcing turnovers instead of allowing touchdowns. White forced two turnovers in his first career start against the Giants, and Lester registered interceptions in two straights games against the Giants and Cardinals before missing the past couple of games.

Then the veterans started stepping up as well over the past two games, with Mike Mitchell notching two interceptions and a sack last week and Captain Munnerlyn forcing two turnovers this week, including pick-six to start the game off. The Panthers are 3-1 since that Buffalo game, and the defense has risen to the top of the league; hopefully, the rest of the team can follow suit.

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