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Frankie Luvu named NFC defensive player of the week

Frankie Luvu

CHARLOTTE — Frankie Luvu wanted to show off for his mother, and he did it in a major way last week.

And the league recognized him for it Wednesday, as he was named NFC defensive player of the week for the show he put on in last week's win over the Texans.

Luvu had a team-high 12 tackles and a sack of CJ Stroud as the Panthers held the rookie quarterback to just 140 passing yards (his lowest total of the season, as he was averaging 276.7 per game in his first six).

Luvu also had two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit, and broke up two passes on the day, leading a defense that entered the game short-handed because of injuries.

"He was incredible," Panthers head coach Frank Reich said. "I mean, he was a beast. I didn't know it was that many tackles, but a couple of passes defended. Plays that are probably going to be first downs. That one third down right there, he makes a great tip. I think he had two passes defended in that as well.

"Just an all-around great game by Frankie."

Frankie Luvu

His teammates are growing accustomed to that kind of energy. Whether it's firing them up with his signature Samoan Siva Tau or just the passion he plays with on the field; he's become one of the personality players on this offense, joining with outside linebacker Brian Burns to provide the potential for impact plays on any down.

"We feed off each other's energy, man," Luvu said of Burns. "Third down, I'm looking at him every play thinking, 'Just give me one more play. Go get him.' And that goes for everyone else on the defense."

He also goes 100 mph every game, even when he's been nursing a hip pointer that has kept him on the injury report and in a red jersey in practice. It's not so other players know to keep their hands off him; it's partially as a reminder to Luvu to not put himself in harm's way on the practice field.

As a result, his teammates have come to expect this type of performance from him.

"Frankie was great," outside linebacker Brian Burns said. "Frankie always does his job, and a lot of plays were coming to him, and he was making them. But we always knew Frankie was a baller, so that's no surprise to us."

Luvu also had a little extra motivation, as his mother Ia was at the game with the family, the first time she'd seen her son play live at Bank of America Stadium (she was at the game in Seattle earlier this year, but he was injured and didn't finish that game, dampening the celebration.

"It was a blessing to have her here," he said after the game. "Kind of have her presence. See what I do live, you know, professionally. I was trying to play calm but aggressive. Just having them there was very emotional for me. On the sideline, just feeling their presence and their prayers and everything.

"She's the backbone to our family. So, embracing all that and having her here to see that, this game meant a lot to me. This game and moving forward."

After receiving his United States citizenship this offseason, Luvu's hoping to help his family do the same.

Which could mean his mom could end up at even more games, and if he keeps playing the way he did last week, that would be just fine with the Panthers.

Take a look at the best pictures from pregame, in-game, and postgame action from Sunday's win against the Texans.

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