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Monday Brew: "Character or compromise"

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CHARLOTTE — Obviously, this is not going according to plan. But all interim coach Chris Tabor and the Panthers can do at this moment is the job in front of them, so he's going to emphasize just that over the next five weeks.

Tabor said Monday, in the wake of the 21-18 loss at Tampa Bay that dropped the Panthers to 1-11 and eliminated them from playoff contention, that he saw a degree of fight in the team, that trailing 21-10, they gave themselves an opportunity to extend the game or win it in the final minutes.

"As I said, you can handle things two ways, either with character or compromise," Tabor said Monday, repeating what is obviously one of his mantras. "I believe in those guys in, in that room.

"If you're going to be a pro, you're going to do things, right? And I just, I know that we have to hold him to that, to that level, and I know that they'll respond to that because that's who they are."

Tabor said as he was preparing last week, he came to the conclusion on Thursday that kicker Eddy Piñeiro was likely going to need to make a kick late, which could decide the game.

"I said, well, this should come down; let's get it to the fourth quarter. Eddy's going to need to make a kick to win this thing, and let's go," And when we got the ball back there at the end of the fourth quarter, I said, OK, just what I anticipated. So you're in a very calm state; you have to think those things through and play them over and over again.

"And then that way it does allow you to play loose and because you've already experienced where you're, where you're at."

Tabor also said he's seen signs of rookie quarterback Bryce Young adopting that approach, 

"I mean, you don't sign up for this, you don't sign up and say, boy, after 12 games, I'd like to be 1-11," Tabor said. "I'll say this about the kid. He's a tough-minded kid. He cares, he's a pro. I think this is helping him mature even faster than probably what you would think.

"He's going to be just fine. He's a good football player and a great person. So I think those qualities right there are going to allow him to be, to be really good in this league."

— Cornerback Jaycee Horn came out after 32 snaps Sunday, around the pitch count they had set for him after coming off a 10-week layoff with a hamstring tear. 

Tabor said that Horn would gradually add to his workload in the weeks to come, building back up to 100 percent. 

"That'll naturally happen," Tabor said. "That was his first game back. You want to work him right back in there and get him up to speed, and I think that he's recovered nicely. So I do see that happening.

"I anticipate him playing quite a bit (this week). I really do."

Jaycee Horn

— Tabor was asked about the protection problems this year, which have been consistent. Young was sacked four times Sunday, getting him to 44 in 11 games.

Considering that Sunday guard starters Justin McCray and Nash Jensen were the sixth and seventh players at their respective positions this season, Tabor said the lack of continuity plays a huge part.

"I mean, that's real," Tabor said. "Coach (James) Campen does a great job with our guys. I've got a lot of confidence in those guys. But I kind of also look at it like the punt team also when you have a bunch of different people coming and going, it does make it harder.

"You don't use it as an excuse. But we played two new guards on the inside, you know, they had some good plays, there's going to be some plays that they want back. And hopefully, we just kind of keep getting better."

— Tabor is popular among his special teams players for his ability to keep things light, an attitude and sense of humor he's honed over the years. 

Sunday, the game officials got a taste of it.

"The official asked me if I needed anything yesterday. I think he was concerned about me being, you know, first game interim for the Panthers," Tabor said. "I told him I was a little hungry and could use a double cheeseburger.

"I know this is a business; I got it. But just as you guys have a job to do, I would assume that your job is fun and that you enjoy going to work. Mine has to be the same way, and I think that's just how you approach it."

View all the action from the Panthers' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 13.

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