CHARLOTTE – Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott joined the Panthers Pulse on Tuesday to discuss the progress his unit has made during the offseason.
Below are some highlights from McDermott's appearance on the show:
On first-round draft choice Shaq Thompson, who got his first taste of the NFL at rookie minicamp before returning to the University of Washington to finish his coursework:
"Shaq is an athletic, dynamic playmaker. When we get him here in June – it can't come quick enough – we just have to acclimate him again to what we do and how we do things, and make sure he's comfortable learning the system.
"We feel like he's wired like a Panther. We feel like he'll go the extra mile on and off the field to get the job done."
On the potential of second-year players like cornerback Bene Benwikere, safety Tre Boston and defensive end Kony Ealy:
"All three of them contributed last year and did a nice job for us. That sophomore year is huge. In the sophomore offseason you find a lot of guys that have the relaxation syndrome set in. They are not used to having an offseason. They had the Scouting Combine and then came straight to us as rookies. Then they get to that offseason (in year two), they've had some success and human nature is to down shift a little bit. To those guys' credit, for the most part, they've stayed in shape and done a good job.
"Bene – we are looking for big things in terms of his ball skills and having that show up more like we saw in practice last year.
"Tre – we really like the way he's approaching the offseason. He's really earning the respect of the players because of the way he's working in the weight room and on the field.
"And we are looking for big things from Kony. We've got to replace 15 sacks that came a year or two ago (from Greg Hardy, now a Dallas Cowboy). That's just the way it is. We've got to make sure we can affect the quarterback. We're going to need to be able to do that early and often."
On the impact two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman can have coming off two injury-shortened seasons:
"Charles is a guy that I have a great amount of respect for after watching him over the years. He's been out the last two years but having said that, this year we want him to regain his form and I'm sure he's hungry to do that. A lot of times you find those cases where teams pass on a guy like Charles Tillman because of his situation with injuries and age. We hope we've found something that can help us off the field in terms of the culture we've tried to establish here and on the field he can play a productive part of what we are trying to get done."
On fielding a top 10 defense each of the last three years and what he's been most proud of during his four seasons as Panthers defensive coordinator:
"I think of all the players that have come through here and the staff that I've got. That's first and foremost what comes to mind. But what I'm most proud of is that we've been able to establish a daily standard and a tradition of what it means to wear that helmet and play defense for the Carolina Panthers."