CHARLOTTE – In what's been an up and down season for Daryl Worley, Sunday was the former.
The second-year cornerback opened the win over the Vikings by grabbing Carolina's first interception by a cornerback in 2017 and added a season-high nine tackles. More importantly for Worley, he played 66 snaps, 57 more than his rotation-mate Kevon Seymour.
"We've kind of waited to see who's going to take the bull by the horns," head coach Ron Rivera said Monday, "and I think the last couple of weeks, Daryl's really stepped up."
Worley began the year as an unquestioned starter across from fellow 2016 draftee James Bradberry, but when a strained pectoral muscle kept him out of the Week 4 win in New England, Seymour did well enough filling in to remain in the defense's plans.
So for the past 10 games, defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has mixed and matched the two, preferring Worley for his vision in a zone and Seymour for his physicality when the Panthers go into man coverage.
But something seemed to click with Worley during Carolina's loss at New Orleans. Maybe it's because Seymour started over him for the first time, but Worley had a solid game against the Saints, regained a starting role this past week and then played his best game the season.
"I think Daryl has really handled the situation, the competition, I think he's handling it in a great manner," Wilks said. "Each and every day he goes out to practice trying to get better, (not knowing) who's going to start. But his mindset is he's going to start and I think he's got better in that situation."
Worley wasn't shy about sharing frustrations about his playing time a few weeks ago, but Sunday, he was more diplomatic.
"I wouldn't put any emphasis on me," he said. "There's always room for corrections."
But has he done enough to go back to a full-time role?
"I'm just trying to do my part each and every play," Worley said with a wry smile. "I guess we'll have to see how it plays out next week."