SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Just how excited is Charles Godfrey about settling into his new home at free safety?
"The time I had off, I couldn't stop thinking about it," Godfrey said.
He specifically thought about getting his hands on the ball more often – something the free safety position should allow him to do.
After manning the strong safety spot for most of the 2012 season, Godfrey started the final three games at free safety. He felt comfortable there and the coaches liked what they saw, so the switch became permanent.
"I want to be the guy back there where if the (opposing) offense needs something, I'm able to be back there and take that away," Godfrey said. "And I want to get Cam (Newton) and (our offense) that ball back. When that ball is in the air, I want to be able to have an opportunity to make the play on the back end, so we can get the ball back to those guys so they can score."
All this talk of making plays on the ball begs the question – how many interceptions does Godfrey, who has 11 interceptions in five seasons, including two last year, have in mind for 2013?
"Eight interceptions. I need eight," he said. "That's my goal. I need to have eight interceptions. I marked that down before we even started OTA's and I'm sticking with that."
Godfrey's setting the bar high, but that's his job as the leader of the secondary.
He wants to set the tone, and he'll continue to emphasize the need for takeaways.
"The good defenses, they take the ball away," Godfrey said. "We are staying technique sound and we're going to make plays."
Godfrey has been noticeably vocal thus far in practice, encouraging teammates and getting them properly aligned. He knows that is a critical part of his job.
"It's on me when I'm in there," Godfrey stated matter-of-factly. "It's on me to get these guys lined up."
And there are several new guys that will benefit from Godfrey's communicative effort.
Safety Mike Mitchell and cornerbacks Drayton Florence and D.J. Moore all joined the Panthers this offseason as unrestricted free agents, and all three are battling for prominent roles in the defense.
Godfrey is the mainstay of the secondary and he's helping to ensure his teammates in the defensive backfield – whoever they may be come the regular season opener – are ready to produce.
"Everybody has to be good. You don't know who is going to play, when something is going to happen in the season, who is going to go down," Godfrey said. "As a unit in the secondary, we're saying from the first group to the third group to the fourth group, everybody has to hold their weight. That's the way we are approaching it, and then the coaches will make the decision who is going to start and who is going to play."