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Carolina Panthers

Foxhole: Defensive concerns


Comments from Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox following the team's practice.

On injuries: Did not participate: Na'il Diggs - rib, Mike Goodson - sick, Brad Hoover - back and Jonathan Stewart - heel. Limited participation: Jordan Gross - knee, Chris Harris - knee, Nick Hayden - toe and Jeff Otah - shoulder. Full participation: Dan Connor - shoulder, Sherrod Martin - knee, Muhsin Muhammad - ankle and Steve Smith - ankle.

On fighting injuries: It's not new. We've been doing it since the preseason. We'll keep battling through it and get the guys ready that we are going to have available.

On if it is helpful having an extra day to prepare for a Monday night game: Yeah I think it helps some. We got banged around a little bit coming off of last week's game. We do get the extra day so that does help.

On if he is going to make any changes to generate more pass rush: So much is made of sacks. I think right now pass defense is not our issue. In two games, I don't look at stats much in two games, but pass defense - and that's part of the rush - has not been an issue. Right now that's not one of my biggest concerns.

On what is his biggest concern defensively: Right now it's taking the ball away and reducing points. I don't really think points are a great indicator at this point because of that first game. But right now we're in to it two games, and the areas (of concern) I think are the run defense and how we fit - and most of it has been mental, not physical. I think those are probably areas - points and rush defense - that as we get ready for the Cowboys need to pick up some.

On the difficulty of improving the run defense when several defensive linemen were not in training camp with the team: It's a setback. Somebody mentioned before about injuries. Everybody deals with them and we're dealing with them. Nobody comes rescue you. We've just got to get better and that's why practice and that's why we play the game.

On his assessment of special teams through two games: You don't assess when you come out of the blocks. It's a long race and it's how you finish. Right now as a football team we're 0-2 and we have to improve in all areas.

On the importance of getting the first win of the season: It is what it is. Somebody asked me if there is more urgency this week. They all count the same, so the last two have been urgent, too. I thought we made some strides (last week), and we've got to make more strides this week to get a W.

On the Dallas Cowboys' offense: They are a superb offense. They've run it pretty good and passed it pretty good. They are averaging over 30 points a game in two games, so they've done well offensively and they've got weapons in all areas. They are big and physical up front; they've got a quarterback that's mobile and accurate; and they've got running backs that run the ball pretty hard.

On the progress of rookie cornerback Captain Munnerlyn: I think Captain is doing well. He did a good job as far as decisions in the kicking game and I know he made one play on third down last week against Atlanta. I'm sure he'll have other opportunities this week against Dallas.

On Munnerlyn's style of play: I like the way he plays. He plays the game aggressively on defense and in the kicking game. I think he's been a spark for us in both areas and I like the way he goes about his business as far as his football character.

On if he has been surprised by Munnerlyn considering he was a seventh-round draft pick: No. These guys understand it's not where you start the race, it's where you finish. He's a guy that came in with a purpose, and he's starting to reap some of the benefits now.

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