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Panthers seamlessly transition from McDermott to Wilks


CHARLOTTE – Linebacker Thomas Davis is at ease with Steve Wilks coordinating the defense.

Davis, like many in the organization, has been working alongside Wilks for years, creating a comfort and respect level in the meeting room and on the field.

But earlier this offseason, Davis wasn't sure where Wilks was going to be in 2017, and that made him a little uneasy.

"I ain't going to lie, I was nervous when he interviewed for the L.A. Rams head coach job," said Davis, referencing the opening that was ultimately filled by Sean McVay. "I know what kind of guy he is and I know what kind of coach he is. I knew there was a chance we could have lost him. That would have been a great opportunity for him, but I'm definitely happy that we have him."

After coaching the Carolina secondary from 2012-16, Wilks was elevated to defensive coordinator following Sean McDermott's departure for the head job in Buffalo after coordinating the Panthers defense for six seasons.

So far, through six OTA practices, the players are getting what they expected from Wilks. The transition has been seamless, which was obviously one of the major positives that came with Wilks' promotion.

"Coach Wilks has done a tremendous job," Davis said. "He's a great leader of men who can get guys motivated, and that's who we knew Coach Wilks was even before he became the defensive coordinator. He's done a great job trickling down what the expectations are to the coaches, and they've done a great job relaying it to the players."

Said cornerback Captian Munnerlyn: "Guys love him and want to work for him. He's got so much energy and he's going to teach you. He's going to have us ready to play… Wilksy, he's been waiting for this. I'm happy for him that he's getting this opportunity."

The assistant coaches on the defensive side are also benefiting from the familiarity they have with Wilks. They know his philosophy, and they're getting every opportunity to take ownership of the defense.

"He's been a great leader for both the players and coaches," linebackers coach Al Holcomb said. "It's all been inclusive, and that's the way it was with Sean as well. It's our defense. Just because he's now the defensive coordinator, there are no egos in there. He allows us to participate and have input.

"Both Sean and Steve have their own personalities. They are both very intense, both cut from the same cloth. They emphasize great technique and great fundamentals. A lot of the things we're doing are things we've done for the past five years. Not much has changed. But Steve has his own unique way of communicating, and overall, it's been very smooth."

View photos from the second week of Carolina's organized team activities.

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