Notebook: Mistakes continue to impact Panthers

AJ Bouye and Stephon Gilmore talking

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers aren't at the point in their development where they can give away yards.

So when they added to their penalty total Sunday, it became a common thread through every player and coach press conference.

The Panthers were flagged seven times for 65 yards against Washington, and they lead the league with 81 penalties against them in 11 games.

Included in that number were a holding penalty on usually reliable right tackle Taylor Moton in the fourth quarter, which wiped out a positive start to a drive, and a couple of unnecessary roughness penalties on safety Juston Burris for hits on Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke.

"The second to last drive, we start off second-and-2, and we are up and running and we have a holding call by Taylor Moton on the right side," Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said. "Just too many penalties. The late hit on the quarterback for us. I couldn't say there is any one common thread. I mean, a lot of those happened up front on the offensive line today, it felt like. It's just hard to execute on offense when you get a good play and you think you are second-and-2 and you are actually first-and-20. Just not really good right now."

Rhule's frustration was obvious, since he's been preaching about self-inflicted problems since training camp (when players had to touch the DBO sign as a reminder to "Don't Beat Ourselves").

And practically every player mentioned it afterward, which means it was clearly a point of emphasis in the locker room.

"Not beating ourselves is the theme I think you'll probably hear a lot," running back Christian McCaffrey said. "It's the same every week. I think we're a team that controls a lot of our own destiny, and sometimes we get in the way of that. That's just got to change. We have to have a sense of urgency this week in practice of not beating ourselves, and that starts with the little things.

"At the same time, it's attention to detail. It's 53 guys pointing the thumb at themselves, and I believe every single individual affects winning. I believe that I affect winning, so I'll look at the things that I did wrong and fix them and move on. That's what this game is all about."

— Rhule said the correct analytical call would have been to punt the ball with 3:05 left in the game. Instead, the Panthers left quarterback Cam Newton on the field. There was a moment of uncertainty, and they called a timeout before sending the offense back onto the field.

Newton's pass to McCaffrey was stopped a yard short of a conversion, and Washington followed with a field goal for a six-point lead.

"I said hey, I have Christian McCaffrey. They haven't stopped him all day. Let's take a shot at it," Rhule explained. "Still knew I had the two-minute warning and knew kind of like how it played out in the end where you get the ball back with a minute and a half if we needed to go down and score a touchdown.

"First started going with probably what is traditionally football-wise what you should do then just said, 'Hey, let's give these guys a shot to go make a play.' I thought they would make the play. We made it. We just came up half of a yard short."

— Veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore still isn't playing a full workload, but he is getting closer. The Panthers opened the game in their nickel defense with cornerbacks Donte Jackson and A.J. Bouye, and Gilmore's still not a part of that group at the moment.

Rhule and Gilmore acknowledged that as he works back from last year's quadriceps tear, he's still getting back to full capacity.

"I am close," Gilmore said. "I am just working back in there each and every week trying to get more and more reps. I am feeling more and more comfortable every week. I am just trying to listen to coach and listen to the trainers, and when I am out there, be impactful."

Gilmore had interceptions in his first two games.

View photos from Sunday's Week 11 game between Carolina and Washington at Bank of America Stadium.

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