- Panthers.com caught up with defensive coordinator Eric Washington at the NFL Scouting Combine.*
On the Panthers releasing defensive end Charles Johnson and safety Kurt Coleman: "With Charles, that's a tough day. Obviously, I've had an opportunity to work with Charles for seven years, and he's been a major contributor to our success. So that was a tough decision, a tough thing to see happen. I wish Charles the absolute best, and you just want to be respectful on occasions like that. Kurt Coleman, same thing. Tremendous leader for us, he's been productive, he's meant so much to our football team – in the locker room and in the grass when it counts. So those were tough decisions, and I look forward to the next chapter in those individuals' lives and careers."
On former defensive coordinator Steve Wilks saying Washington will "probably do even better than what I did": "Well, I appreciate that. I'm going to take it one step at a time and make sure we have a great first meeting on April 16 when the voluntary program starts. But I appreciate that compliment, and I believe Steve's going to be an outstanding leader with his new assignment, also."
On how many 225-pound bench press reps he could do these days: "Right now? Five to 10."
On how many 225-pound bench press reps he could do "back in the day": "25."
On which positions the bench press matters for: "The line of scrimmage, where you have to engage power, and you use power so much to be able to create separation between yourself and the guy you're competing against. So the guys on the line of scrimmage, the guys in the box, a little bit with the linebackers, but especially on the line of scrimmage."
On which defensive positions the 40-yard dash matters for: "DBs, linebackers ... defensive ends. For the defensive tackles, it's more of a short area burst and quickness as opposed to a 40 speed."
On which defensive positions the 3-cone drill matters for: "I would say that's applicable to all of the positions because you're able to evaluate change of direction and agility and that's applicable to everybody on defense."
On which defensive positions the broad jump matters for: "Hip explosiveness, certainly the guys on the line of scrimmage. Defensive ends, defensive tackles because of their proximity to the person they're competing against."
On which defensive positions the vertical jump matters for: "I won't put the tackles in there until we're trying to bat balls down. But your ball production positions – your safeties and corners, when that ball is in the air, it's a free ball, and that belongs to us. We need guys that can really go up and get it."
On combine drills being more than just a made-for-TV event: "It's a piece of the puzzle. You have to avoid giving it more than it deserves. It's certainly a piece of the puzzle. It helps you evaluate some of the athletic traits. But you always go back to the film, and then you go back to who they are as people."