The defensive line has developed into a major team strength under coach Eric Washington's guidance, but the unit has been dealing with its fair share of challenges lately.
Defensive end Frank Alexander is out for the year with a torn Achilles and the group's top three linemen – Charles Johnson, Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short – have all missed time with injuries.
Panthers.com caught up with Washington recently to discuss the state of Carolina's front line.
How do you feel about the unit's development so far?
"We're making progress. The guys are doing a nice job. They are really detailing their work. I'm excited about the improvement and the development of some of the young guys. The veterans are doing their part in helping out that process. I'm really pleased."
How have the players approached the competition to start at defensive end?
"Hopefully, everybody feels like they have something to prove – not just the people vying for that particular position. Everybody every year has something to prove. The defensive ends understand there is an opportunity there but the level of urgency is on everybody – not just that position."
You've coached several linemen for multiple years in Carolina – is that continuity comforting or does it make it more challenging to find different ways to motivate?
"It's both. It's a tremendous luxury and it's challenging also. You have to continue to stimulate the guys that are veterans. You have to find ways to push and motivate those guys. But, obviously, having continuity means they understand the system and what I expect. The relationship is where it needs to be as far as trust. I feel really good about that. We understand how we need to work together."