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Position preview: Cornerbacks

Passing defense coordinator Steve Wilks didn't merely want his secondary around the football during the Panthers' offseason workouts.

Wilks wanted his defenders to get their hands on the ball.

"Our No. 1 goal for the offseason was to make more plays on the ball, and we did a good job with that," Wilks said. "We had a very productive spring."

Wilks helped the Panthers move from 24th to 13th in pass defense in his second season, and this season he wants the group to move up in another category. Just six NFL teams had fewer than the 11 interceptions the Panthers produced in 2012. Just three of those interceptions were by cornerbacks.

Making plays on the ball during training camp will be a key component in determining who emerges from what is expected to be a heated competition for starting roles and roster spots at corner.


Captain Munnerlyn
Tied for team lead in interceptions with a modest two, but became just the third player in franchise history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in a season. … Played in all 16 games and started 11, recording a career-high 61 tackles along the way. … The 2009 seventh-round draft pick briefly became an unrestricted free agent following last season before re-signing with Panthers.

Josh Thomas
Took over as a starter for the final four games of 2012 and performed well. … Played in all 16 games, finishing second on the team with seven passes defensed while adding seven tackles and a fumble recovery on special teams. … A fifth-round draft pick by Dallas in 2011, the Cowboys waived him in the final roster cutdown and the Panthers claimed him.

Josh Norman
Started the first 12 games of his rookie season before serving as a reserve for the final four. … Posted 74 tackles, an interception and a team-leading eight passes defensed. … Recorded 11 tackles in a home victory over New Orleans Saints. … Two-time All-American at Coastal Carolina and native of Greenwood, S.C., same hometown as Panthers wide receiver Armanti Edwards.

James Dockery
Signed as a free agent during second half of last season. … Played in seven games, starting two of the final three, and finished with 17 tackles. … Spent rookie season in 2011 with Cleveland. … Originally signed by Browns as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Oregon State.

Nick Hixson
Spent final five weeks of rookie season on Panthers practice squad. … Spent first nine weeks of rookie season on Saints practice squad. … Standout at Division II school Hillsdale College in his native Michigan.


Drayton Florence
Entering his 11th NFL season but his first with the Panthers, having signed as an unrestricted free agent after one season in Detroit. … Has played in 143 career games with 99 starts, recording 460 tackles with 18 interceptions and 94 passes defensed. … Second-round draft pick in 2003 spent first five seasons in San Diego.

D.J. Moore
Native of Spartanburg, S.C., was a fourth-round pick by Chicago in 2009 and spent first four seasons with the Bears before signing with the Panthers as unrestricted free agent. … Started just three games with the Bears but intercepted 10 passes primarily in the role of nickel back.


Melvin White
Signed with the Panthers as undrafted rookie free agent out of Louisiana Lafayette. … Played in 50 games with 28 starts, recording 155 tackles and two interceptions. is taking a position-by-position look at the 90-man roster, having previously profiled quarterbacks, running backs, offensive linemen, tight ends, wide receivers, defensive tackles, defensive ends and linebackers.

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