Special teams, secondary in Hudson's forecast

CHARLOTTE – What prompted Marcus Hudson to sign with the Carolina Panthers in the offseason?

Blame it on the rain.

"I'm a fan of rain. Some people say I'm crazy, but it helps me sleep good," said Hudson, a defensive back who signed as a restricted free agent with the Panthers following four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. "It never really rained in California. I can count on my hand the number of times it rained."

While Charlotte does get nearly twice the annual rainfall as San Francisco, Hudson's reasons for coming to Carolina extend beyond the weather forecast.

Hudson's return has given him more opportunity to be showered with love by his Florida-based family as well as by local fans who remember him from his days at N.C. State, and it's also an opportunity for him to play an extended role on Sundays.

"I was out on the West Coast for the last four years, and I really didn't get to see any of my family like I wanted to. Now I have more of a chance of them coming to see me," Hudson said. "Also, being an alum of N.C. State, I've been feeling bundles of love since Day One. I could be walking down the street and somebody will notice me from N.C. State.

"It's a great feeling, being back home."

Now, Hudson is working toward carving out a comfortable home in the Panthers' defensive backfield. He didn't get the starting nod he had hope for in Saturday's preseason game against the New York Jets with safety Sherrod Martin out with a groin injury, but he started the second half and did so with a bang, forcing a fumble on the second snap of the third quarter that led to the Panthers' lone points.

Hudson played sparingly on defense over his four seasons in San Francisco, coming up with 33 defensive tackles, but he contributed 57 special teams tackles.

When he did play on defense, he lined up at both at cornerback and safety. The Panthers are using him at safety.

"I've been all around the secondary -- I've played multiple positions – so learning safety is nothing new for me," Hudson said. "I was told a long time ago, the more you can do, the better off you'll be.

"As long as I've been playing football, I've bounced back and forth from safety to corner, so it's nothing big to me."

Hudson does, however, consider Carolina to present a big opportunity for him.

"I've been hungry for four years," he said. "I'm just ready to take advantage of the chance."

Believe it or not, Hudson is trying to become just the third former N.C. State player to make the Panthers roster. Linebacker Mark Thomas, who now hosts a sports talk show in the Triangle, was on the inaugural team in 1995 and stood as the lone former Wolfpack player in team history before Tank Tyler's arrival last season.

"We've got a couple of Tar Heels and a couple from Wake Forest, and Florida State," Hudson said. "Really, it's good ACC competition.

"There will be some trash-talking this season. Go Wolfpack."

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