Notebook: Panthers prioritize protection

Sam Darnold

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers knew they had questions to answer on the offensive line this week, and that was before the injury report came out Thursday.

The Panthers added bedrock right tackle Taylor Moton to the report with a groin injury, and he was limited in practice.

That's not the kind of news they're looking for at all, but especially against this week's opponent.

The Saints dominated the Packers last week in a 38-3 win, picking Aaron Rodgers off twice, hitting him seven times, and holding the Packers to 1-of-10 on third-down conversions. And after limiting the Packers to 229 yards and three points, they lead the league in both categories.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold was sacked just once, but hit eight times in last week's win over the Jets. The pressure was particularly bad in the second half.

"We talked, as a staff, as a unit, and we obviously hold ourselves to a higher standard than we showed on Sunday from an offensive line standpoint," Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady said Thursday. "The pressures on the quarterback, the hits on the quarterback, obviously you take that personal.

"It's a point of emphasis, and we know that. This week, New Orleans, they pride themselves on getting to the quarterback and providing energy, and you obviously know it's another key to victory. We have to get ready for that pass rush, and I know our guys are up for that."

If Moton can't play, they'd likely plug either Trent Scott or Brady Christensen into a line that was already in flux.

Guard John Miller was a full participant Thursday after he was limited Wednesday in his first day back from the reserve/COVID-19 list, which is a good sign as it pertains to his conditioning. Brady said he expected Miller to be able to go, but wasn't committing to much else when asked about potential lineup changes.

"Going into with mindset, that we're still working through everything, and the best five will be the ones to play," Brady said.

— Defensive coordinator Phil Snow said he was encouraged by what he saw from rookie cornerback Jaycee Horn in his first game.

Horn allowed a late touchdown, and told Snow afterward he'd atone for it.

"Good. I mean, he doesn't get rattled," Snow said of Horn. "He got beat at the end of the game on that third-down, and after the game, I saw him in the parking lot, and he said, 'Coach, I'll get one for you next week.'

That's just who he is, right? Onto the next play. That's how you've got to be as a corner. I enjoy watching him out there. He's going to be, he could be good in this league."

— Miller talked to reporters for the first time Thursday since he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week. 

Miller said he tested positive the Saturday during the weekend off before the start of the regular season, and felt poorly throughout the Labor Day weekend until the middle of the week. He was still not 100 percent by Sunday, and watched the team's win over the Jets from his bed, but he said he felt much better this week.

"Feeling a lot better coming off the sickness, the COVID-19 virus," he said. "Was down pretty bad for about three or four days."

He was quarantined at home, and said he never felt like he was on the verge of needing to be hospitalized. He said he didn't know where he caught the virus, and hadn't left town. 

"I actually don't know," he said. "It's just COVID; it's out there. It's something that's real, and it's something that's affecting every one of us."

Miller said in terms of conditioning, he felt much better Thursday than the day before, and if he had to play today, he'd be good for about a half, "but obviously we've got a few days here."

"It's pretty tough, to be honest," he said. "Running around on the field Wednesday morning, I did a little conditioning, and I was like: 'Wow, my lung capacity is not what it used to be.' So I just took a chance in practice to do a few extra sprints, steal a few reps, and get my conditioning back where it needs to be."

He would not discuss his vaccination status, or anything about the topic.

— Rookie wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. said he's getting comfortable again in jersey number 88, after a roundabout trip to his old high school number.

"Actually 88 was my high school number, so I'm glad to have it back on my back," he said. "Actually, it's a funny story. I wanted 6 in high school, but a senior had it. So they threw me 88, and I made something out of it. Then when I got to college, a senior had 88, and I had to get 6. And now I've got 88 again."

Asked if he was tempted to make backup quarterback P.J. Walker an offer for his other old number, Marshall replied: "I think I'm going to stick with 88."

View photos from Thursday afternoon's practice as the Panthers get ready to face New Orleans on Sunday.

Related Content

Advertising