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Wilson leaps at opportunity

Posted Jul 14, 2009


C.J. Wilson goes airborne during OTAs. (PHOTO: ANDREW MASON / PANTHERS.COM)

CHARLOTTE -- Being singled out by a coach for a corrective lecture during practice may seem to be the kind of situation a player wants to avoid.

But the reality is that such a scenario is welcomed. To be on the receiving end of pointed, individual instruction is to be reminded of your role on the team. You know you're a focal point of the program. You know that the team's success or failure is in part dependent on what you do.

So when defensive coordinator Ron Meeks called C.J. Wilson aside for some words, the third-year cornerback didn't flinch. Better to hear your coach implore you to improve than to be overlooked.

"(Meeks) is like that uncle that sits on the porch when you're out playing football in the front yard. He's going to tell you every little move," Wilson said. "I love it. It's good. We all love it."

But what Meeks and secondary coach Ron Milus shared with Wilson during the Panthers' summer-school practice sessions is only part of the equation.

"One thing about it is that no coach, no coach, no player, no fan has higher expectations for me than I have for myself," Wilson said. "I expect to get coached hard even if he doesn't say anything, because I expect to coach myself for when I go in and watch film. The good players are the ones that analyze themselves harder than anybody else does.

"I like it, but I know I've got to do what I've got to do."

Organized team activities in June saw him lining up with the first unit as a nickel back. A key role on the Panthers' defense is within his reach after two seasons mostly on special teams with infrequent opportunities to line up in the secondary.

For that reason, Wilson acknowledges that this is the most important juncture of his career.

"Most definitely," he said. "Every play that I go out there for is the most important juncture.

"I go to sleep at night knowing that I have a lot of stuff to look at, coming from not really getting a lot of reps in the past. But it's a blessing. I love it."