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Notebook: Thomas Brown focused on winning his first game as play-caller

Thomas Brown

CHARLOTTE – While things are different for Panthers offensive coordinator Thomas Brown as he takes on play-calling duties for the first time in Week 8, a lot of the process has stayed the same for him.

He had already been rotating with head coach Frank Reich (who handed play-calling responsibilities to Brown before the bye last week) in practice, taking turns giving the calls to quarterback Bryce Young while they prepared earlier.

But now it's all Brown, who said his preparation has been slightly altered just because he's taking on more.

"Biggest thing is obviously my preparation towards how I actually want to call it versus suggesting ideas to Frank," Brown said in a press conference Thursday. "Now, I'm just the only one communicating. But other than that, the great thing is I've been performing the same role the entire time, as far as meeting with the staff, game planning, scripting practice, running practice. So that's been the same." 
Brown said he likes to script 24 "normal" calls before a game to help collect inventory on how a defense is approaching his offense and whether it mirrors what they focused on throughout the week of preparation.
"It's more about just trying to figure out what I want to set up, how to attack," Brown said. "(It) also kind of gives inventory early in the game about how the defense is playing, just making sure that what we expected to see is going to be confirmed, just based on film study." 
When asked if the offense will take on Brown's personality, he smirked and said, "We'll see." 
He said his goal is to set the players up for success but pointed out that he's been with the offense from the beginning, even though there's a small change since he's taken over as the primary play-caller. 
And Brown is solely focused on one thing as he heads into his first game as an NFL play-caller. 
"Winning," he said. "Only thing that matters is winning, so (I'm) focused on that."

– Brown commented on the benefit of returning starting guard Austin Corbett, who missed the first part of the season as he recovered from last year's ACL tear and has been activated from the physically unable to perform list this week.
He adds more than just solid play along the offensive line, which is needed as injuries have marred the guard positions. (Brady Christensen is out for the season with a biceps injury; Chandler Zavala sustained a neck stinger at Detroit and is working his way back, and Calvin Throckmorton has been dealing with a calf issue on and off.)
Corbett also brings leadership, and Brown knows a lot about that since they overlapped with the Rams a few years ago.
"Vocal leadership; he's also a leader by example, obviously having an opportunity to be around him before in LA," Brown said. "Love what he brings to the table from a talent standpoint. Talking about how the O-line position is kind of built, it's about being downright nasty at times. And he's a physical player, throws into the point of contact, but also extremely smart as well. So excited about him being back in the mix."

Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero commented on the two high-powered offenses his defense had to face before the bye – Detroit and Miami – and what they're doing to improve after giving up 42 points two weeks in a row.

"We're doing a lot," Evero said when asked what they're doing to improve. "First of all, give those guys credit. Really good offenses, they're hard to contain, hard to stop." 

Evero said they're looking to plan and play better with "better execution and better consistency," capitalizing on the positive moments he was able to pick out of those performances while improving upon areas in which the Panthers faltered.

– Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor had thoughts to share on punter Johnny Hekker's notable day in Miami – which included a completed pass to Laviska Shenault Jr. on a fake punt that nearly converted on fourth down and an unnecessary roughness penalty when he got into a bit of a skirmish with Dolphins linebacker Cameron Goode.
"That's a first," Tabor said when asked if he's ever had a punter complete a pass and be called for unnecessary roughness in the same game. "That's the first one. I will say this about him: the thing I love – he is so passionate. And he's such a competitor. I would never, ever want to change any of that." 
He mentioned how Hekker's skill set, including his ability as a passer, makes it more difficult for teams to game plan against him. 
When he used to coach against Hekker (when Hekker played with the Rams), Tabor said he used to consider his throwing skills.
"You've always got to be aware of the skill set that he has throwing," Hekker said. "Just flipping it, for myself, playing against Hekker when he was with the Rams, it just makes you work on some other things just because he is such a good thrower. I mean, in theory, he's like a third-string quarterback. You do see some different things, maybe midfield or certain down-and-distances. I think that's just all part of it."

View photos from the Panthers' practice on Wednesday.

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