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Notebook: Ejiro Evero still sees effort from defense

Brian Burns

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers haven't seen the results they were hoping for this season, obviously.

But defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said Thursday he's been impressed that he's still seeing the effort.

Evero opened his press conference Thursday by acknowledging the energy he continues to see on the practice field.

"I just want to start off by kind of acknowledging where we are in the season; we're 1-11, things have not gone the way we planned," he said. "It's very frustrating, but I've just got to give a lot of credit and kudos to our players. They've done a great job of handling it.

"It's not easy, obviously, coming into work day-to-day and dealing with the frustrations. But the guys have been upbeat, they continue to work hard, they've been positive, they've been coachable, just doing things the right way, and I'm just so glad to be working with this group of players. And so, just want to give a lot of love to our guys, especially on the defensive side, who've done a great job all year."

It's not a normal thing for a coach to invoke this time of the year, so Evero was asked why he felt compelled to say it, in the context of outside linebacker Brian Burns admitting frustration last week when he got ejected for punching a Bucs lineman.

"Just because it's true," Evero replied. "You know, we all have moments where we're not at our best and when we make poor decisions, and he'll acknowledge that, and I'm guilty of it as well. But I think at the end of the day, it's just keeping those moments as moments and getting ourselves back and really focusing on the bigger picture.

"And I just think our guys have done a phenomenal job of that."

The Panthers have continued to play defense at a solid level, ranked seventh in the league in total yards allowed and fourth in passing yards allowed.

Panthers defense

— While quarterback Bryce Young has been the focus of so much discussion all year, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said he's continued to be impressed with his ability to keep his focus on the immediate when it would be easy to be overwhelmed. 

A rookie year is a lot to process in ideal conditions, but when it comes along with your head coach and quarterbacks coach being fired in mid-season, it's a lot. 

"It was a lot last week for everybody involved as far as how much change happened," Brown said. "One thing I love about him and just how he is as far as his approach, overall, his overall demeanor, I think being able to be locked in and be focused even in the midst of change is gonna be tough for everybody, but I think he handled it well."

He also said that dealing with all the adversity Young's seen this year gives him no pause about the quarterback's long-term trajectory.

"I have zero concerns about Bryce at all in the future," Brown said. "I still stand by everything I've said from Day 1 about him being an elite player in this league for a long time just from the overall process he approaches towards it, his mental capacity, but also his overall natural talent as well for him to fully develop."

— Right guard Austin Corbett was back in the locker room Thursday after returning from California for his most recent knee surgery to repair his MCL.

At least he was walking without crutches this time, as he was after his ACL surgery in January. 

"Still have them for longer treks, but more functional this time," Corbett said.

The Panthers got four games out of Corbett this year to go along with the one from Brady Christensen, setting the stage for the Wheel-Of-Guards that's seen six different players take snaps on the left and seven on the right.

View photos from the Panthers' practice as the team prepares to take on the New Orleans Saints.

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