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Carolina Panthers

Ben McAdoo is a "big fan" of Seattle quarterback Geno Smith

Ben McAdoo

CHARLOTTE – Ben McAdoo roots for Seattle quarterback Geno Smith, most days anyway. The Panthers' offensive coordinator has a history with Smith from his head coaching tenure at the Giants, when he once replaced Eli Manning with Smith in 2017.

These days, McAdoo mostly catches Smith, the 32-year-old signal-caller on a potential MVP campaign, when he watches games on TV and in crossover tape while scouting opposing defenses.

And what he sees is a veteran quarterback having his best season. Smith leads the NFL with a 72.7 percent completion percentage, averaging 8.1 yards per attempt and throwing 22 touchdowns, and leading a 7-5 Seattle team to the cusp of playoff contention.

"He's a pro, so it's outstanding to see him having the success that he's having and the year that he's having," McAdoo said. "I'm a big fan of Geno. I don't know about him on Sunday, but I'm a Geno guy."

McAdoo complimented how Smith has stayed the course through his 10-year career, especially in the face of fluctuating roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

McAdoo said he felt like quarterbacks can field "too much credit" and "too much blame" for both successes and failures of the offense. He said having a chance to succeed has as much to do with keeping an even demeanor as it does with being in the right spot – and Smith is a perfect example.

"As long as they have inside of them (that) they can persevere, they have some toughness, and they have confidence in themselves when they're going through tough times, they always have the talent to come out of it on the back end," McAdoo said. "You're seeing that with Geno, and that's just a part of playing the game.

"These guys go through a lot as they come up through the ranks, and they get a chance to play in this league. Sometimes they just need to get in the right situation, and certainly, that's where Geno is right now."

And aside from Smith having a solid year himself, he's also surrounded by plenty of skill position talent. Wide receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf have paired well in Smith's favor over at Seattle, for instance.

And in the wake of Atlanta's change from Marcus Mariota to Desmond Ridder on Thursday and with the Panthers' swapping between three starters this year, McAdoo said he believes that the burden shouldn't entirely fall on the quarterback.

"Sometimes we expect a little too much from the position," McAdoo said. "It's a challenge out there. Every time you play a team or see something on the tube, it's 'This quarterback versus that quarterback.' It's a team game; it's the ultimate team game, and these guys need help, right?

"They can't go out there and do it alone. Sometimes we think they can go out there and do it alone, but it's the ultimate team game. You need to play team football. You need to support these guys as much as you can and as many ways as you can to give them a chance to be successful there."

– Defensive end Brian Burns made it to double-digit sacks for the first time in his career when he made it to 10.0 in a Week 12 win over Denver. Still, defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said he'd bet that Burns would "be the first to tell you that there's obviously room for improvement."

For one, Holcomb said Burns could create more strip sack opportunities, getting the ball onto the ground when taking down quarterbacks. 

The 24-year-old Burns is evaluated at a granular level, and finding areas for him to improve upon lie in the details.

"When you get a sack, we want the ball to come out every single time," Holcomb said. "And then (it's) just being consistent with his pass rushes all the time. 

"As a coach, you're always looking at things from a detail standpoint, like 'You can do this better; you can do that better, you can finish a little bit better in terms of your move,' or 'What were you thinking here?' … He's not a finished product right now."

– Running back D'Onta Foreman returned to practice in a limited capacity Thursday. The Panthers' leading rusher didn't participate in Wednesday's practice as he continues to heal from a foot injury. 

Foreman said he felt "pretty good" after getting back to practice and that he "should be able to" play Sunday against the Seahawks.

"I was able to get some movement in this week before today, just (to) kind of see how I felt," Foreman said. "At the end of the day, I've battled with injuries in my career, so that's definitely something high priority on my list – trying to stay as injury-free as possible. If I felt like I couldn't go, I wouldn't go. But I feel pretty good. So hopefully, we just keep trending in the right direction, and come Sunday, I'll be out there."

View photos from Thursday's practice as the Panthers prepare to take on the Seahawks.

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