CHARLOTTE — The Panthers have given up some big games against the run this year, but veteran defensive coordinator Phil Snow pointed out that it wasn't necessarily as bad as it looked.
Snow pointed out that over the last two games, they held the Falcons to 2.9 yards per carry, and the Falcons to 3.6 yards per carry. Giving up 3.6 per carry would be a league-leading number in that category.
"I hear all this, 'we have problems against the run' and all that, and we have in two or three ball games," Snow said Thursday. "But in the last two or three ball games, we haven't had any problem in that, as far as yards per carry.
"Now, you can always get better at what you're doing, and so forth, but the problem is the volume of runs."
The Panthers are ninth in rushing yards allowed per carry at 4.07 per, but 20th in yards per game at 115.3 per game.
That's a function of the cyclical nature of the Panthers' issues overall this year.
Because they've fallen behind in some games, other teams have been able to run more often. And with the Panthers slipping in third-down defense lately, opponents are getting more chances to.
The Panthers are eighth in the league overall in third-down conversion percentage allowed (36.4 percent), but have allowed 46.3 percent over the last three weeks. That would rank 29th in the league.
"What you're trying to do in this league is (get them to) not to run the football and make them one-dimensional," Snow said. "Well, because of our scores, they're able to keep running the football. So by doing that, they control time of possession. The real issue the last two games has been third down. We get off on third and fourth down, we're not giving up many points."
— Cam Newton unveiled his nicknames for his new teammates in the quarterbacks room Thursday, putting new monikers on PJ Walker (Skateboard P), Matt Barkley (Montgomery) and Sam Darnold (Sam-u-el).
But the 32-year-old also reflected on many of the other passers he's shared that room with over the years, and talked about how much he's enjoyed meeting so many new people from background and every corner of the country, and learning their stories (mentioning that Walker just got engaged).
"When you're playing catch-up to that process, guys are trying to get to know me; they're not trying to sound like that guy," Newton said with a grin. "But at the end of the day, you kind of feel old when a person comes up to you and says, 'bruh, I used to wear your cleats in high school.'
"It's an appreciation thing. Right now, we're past that honeymoon stage, now we're in the foxhole together, and we're just trying to find a way to win."
— Wide receiver DJ Moore didn't have much to add to his injury status Thursday.
He was limited in practice for the second straight day with a hamstring issue.
Asked how it felt, Moore said: "It's good. Still working on it. Was out there at practice. Just taking it one day at a time."
He was pretty low-key and monotone when he said it, but that's just kind of the way he talks most days. He said the injury happened as he was "pulling people" upfield against the Falcons. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said there was an initial suggestion that he was out for the rest of the game, but Moore said he was playing.
His toughness has been on display all season, and will extend to his choice of attire. Sunday's forecast high in Buffalo is 31 degrees, and there's a chance of snow Saturday.
But Moore shrugged off the idea of wearing extra gear because of the temperature. Moore will wear sleeves in practice, but prefers not to during games.
"No, I still go out there with no sleeves on and play football. Been doing it since college, and I'm just going to continue to do it," he said. "I don't really live sleeves. I wore a sleeve in college, but I didn't like it when I got here. Maybe it was because of the two fumbles I had when I was a rookie. But other than that, I just don't like sleeves, period."
He lost a pair of fumbles in a game against Washington in 2018 and three during his rookie season, but has only lost two since — including one this year against the Vikings in Week 6.
— The Panthers brought back tight end Colin Thompson Thursday, adding him back to the practice squad.
The backup and special teams contributor was waived earlier in the week to make room for the activation of offensive lineman Trent Scott.
To make room for Thompson on the practice squad, they waived linebacker Josh Watson.
— The Panthers had a crew of officials at practice again Thursday. They brought in an ACC crew last week to help them work on a persistent problem.
View photos from Thursday's practice as the Panthers prepare to face Buffalo.