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Shaquill Griffin finding a spot, now that he's found his luggage

Shaquill Griffin

CHARLOTTE — Given their struggles this year to keep healthy corners on the field, the Panthers were trying to get Shaquill Griffin here quickly.

But when they called last week, he literally had his hands full. The veteran cornerback was back in Houston with his family last Thursday, awaiting word on his next destination after the Texans waived him when the Panthers called trying to arrange a flight here.

"When I got claimed, I remember they called, they were like, oh, can you come tonight? I said, well, I got my kids in my hands right now," he said with a laugh, indicating he did, in fact, have a child in each hand at that particular instant. "It might be kind of hard just to drop them and leave. But I could be there in the morning for sure.

"So it was a transition for me and the family, but definitely worth it."

The 28-year-old Griffin made the quick trip and got here last Friday, just in time to get to know his new teammates before his quick turnaround to go to Tampa last week. Unfortunately for him, his luggage didn't arrive the same time he did, so he was grateful to be part of a team where they offered you clothes.

Shaquill Griffin

"I'm packing in a hurry; I know I've got six weeks, I just need a bag, I need some clothes," he said of his scramble to get here. "But when I got here, my bag got lost, so I had to wait for it to come. I came in and said, could you get me a sweatsuit or something? I'll be wearing the team-issued stuff on this trip, I'll make it work. 

"But it's wild because you get here on Friday, you're going to Tampa on Saturday, and I have nothing."

His bag did show up before he flew with the team to Florida, but he didn't play in his first game with his new team. Then when he got back to Charlotte with the team Sunday night, he couldn't recall the name of the hotel he was staying in, which made it hard to get an Uber from the airport (fortunately a co-worker came through for him). But they've been impressed with how he's handled the baggage of learning a new system on the fly and finding a spot in it, with defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero noting that he had an interception in practice Thursday.

"He's doing a great job," Evero said. "So yeah, Shaquill is coming along, a really smart young man learning the defense really fast, and, he's definitely going to be part of the plans as we work down the stretch."

Griffin will be a free agent this offseason (as are CJ Henderson and Troy Hill), so this is effectively a head start on seeing if he could play a role here next year. But he's not thinking about that as much as trying to fit in quickly and help out whenever they need him in the short term. This is a new style of defense for him, but he's started 78 games in the league, so he is figuring it out quickly and trying to share what he knows with others.

"I think my main thing is confidence," he said. "I know when you go to a team that hasn't won too many games, it's tough. I don't care who you are when it comes to being one and whatever, that's a long and tough season. So my main thing is I want to be able to preach the message that you're here for a reason. I don't care what your name is. Understand that you get paid to be professional,  and I want people to understand and remember that.

"So it's not like maybe we could win a game. You've got to stop thinking like that. I think the main message should be is we should be going to anybody's territory to try to take the game and not just we might or we could maybe. You've just got to have more confidence and understand you're a professional as well."

Griffin learned that lesson first hand earlier this season when he came here with the Texans and left with a loss, a reminder of that any-given-Sunday ethos he's spreading now.

Jonathan Mingo, Shaquill Griffin

'You can't take any team lightly," he said. "Even as much as we preached it (with the Texans), I think we still came out and I don't think we played a terrible game. I just felt like they came more prepared and more ready to be able to prove their point.

"And I feel like that message should be preached on even in this organization and be pretty strong that we should be able to build off that, understand that we can win any game any Sunday. I feel like they came more prepared, and I feel like I said, it should always be like that in this building, but they got the best of the time."

Of course, the they is now a we, and he's trying to fit into his new environment.

"Hopefully, I can be a guy that can help you," Griffin said. "Maybe change things a little bit, even if it's just giving some good advice, even for the younger guys. So, whatever I can do to help with the next five games, I want to be that person for."

"I don't think it's just about film, but I want to be able to show you what type of character I have to be able to come in and contribute to whatever I need to do on such short notice, you know. I just want them to understand that I'm a good guy for a locker room and then when you need me to step up, I can be that guy for you. So I'm not trying to think too far ahead and bring some good spirits to this locker room."

He walks in the door with some degree of familiarity, mostly guys he's worked out with in Florda, or knew from growing up there. He played in college with Justin at Central Florida, he worked out with Donte Jackson the year before Jackson was drafted here, and played with CJ Henderson and Laviska in Jacksonville. So, he's not a complete stranger. 

And if nothing else, he has luggage now, so he can stay for a minute.

View photos from the Panthers' practice as the team prepares to take on the New Orleans Saints.

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