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The Day After: Being "accountable, committed"


CHARLOTTE – Steve Wilks maintained an even disposition when asked about the Robbie Anderson situation upon his return from the West Coast, even as Anderson departed for Arizona via trade Monday. Because what Wilks is looking for in his team is every day accountability.

Anderson's incident with his position coach, Joe Dailey, prompted his removal from the sideline in Sunday's 24-10 loss at Los Angeles. That early walk to the locker room before the fourth quarter was his last as a Panther.

So a few hours after the trade, the Panthers' interim coach repeated his postgame message that nobody at Carolina is "bigger than the team, including myself," further cementing the tone for the team moving forward.

While he wished Anderson well with the Cardinals, Wilks also told the team he would focus on accountability, commitment, and trust as they move on.

"I spoke (to the team) this morning, and we want Robbie to excel and do well," Wilks said. "But I also pointed out to the players that it's about acting (like) a champion, about being accountable, that great level of commitment, and really building that trust and believing in the process."

DJ Moore

Answering the same question about his message following the Anderson trade, Wilks pointed out that an example of what he's looking for is already in the Panthers' wideout room: DJ Moore.

Moore totaled just 7 yards on three catches against the Rams as Carolina emphasized the run game and went through running back Christian McCaffrey. Wilks was impressed by how Moore took on a role in the blocking scheme.

"(He) didn't get the touches that he probably wanted yesterday, but if you really study and watch the tape, his blocking was phenomenal – outstanding," Wilks said. "That's tough for a receiver to buy in and do because he really wants the ball. So we want guys that are going to be accountable, guys that are committed, and most importantly, guys that we can trust."

Moore said he was "laid back" when it came to play-calling, touches, and targets, and his mindset remains to go out and execute whatever he is called to do.

Moore said he focused on blocking Sunday to allow McCaffrey the spotlight. McCaffrey totaled 69 yards on the ground and 89 yards receiving.

"When things aren't going your way, you know there are other playmakers on the team," Moore said. "Yesterday, Christian had a heck of a day in the run game and had some passes. … When I did my job (blocking) at a high level, I was able to help him be the playmaker he is in space."

To Wilks, Moore's actions exemplified accountability, commitment, and trust.

– Anderson's trade opens up a spot in the receiver rotation. Wilks said he'd decide on who takes his starting role out wide throughout practice. Still, it leaves an opportunity for Terrace Marshall Jr., Rashard Higgins, and even Laviska Shenault Jr., who Wilks said will hopefully return from a hamstring injury this week.

Shi Smith said he expects guys like Higgins, Marshall, and Shenault to grab an opportunity to excel through practice this week.

"I haven't really thought about (Anderson's trade) because it just happened," Smith said. "But it is more opportunity for guys to come in and show what they can do."

– Wilks didn't have updates on the Panthers' long list of injuries, particularly on defense. They wait for a Tuesday report on cornerback Donte Jackson (ankle), cornerback CJ Henderson (concussion protocol), cornerback Jaycee Horn (ribs), linebacker Frankie Luvu (shoulder), linebacker Cory Littleton (groin), and defensive tackle Henry Anderson (elbow).

Wilks mentioned that having Horn and Luvu return would be a "boost" that the defense could use before Tom Brady's Buccaneers come to town this Sunday.

– Quarterback Jacob Eason stepped in for an injured PJ Walker (neck) late in the fourth quarter against the Rams, less than a week removed from his first live snaps in a Panthers practice.

Eason was signed to Carolina's practice squad in late August from Seattle. He admitted the circumstances (a litany of injuries that left all three other quarterbacks sidelined at that point in Week 6) were "wild," as he went in and threw for 59 yards on 3-of-5 passing, including an end zone interception.

With more questions than answers regarding Walker, Baker Mayfield's ankle, and Sam Darnold's potential return from IR, Eason is left as the only quarterback who is, without any doubt, going to practice on Wednesday.

"The circumstance for a backup to go in is never necessarily a good one, with guys doing down," Eason said. "But in the life of a backup, you've got to be ready for anything; expect the unexpected, all of the above.

It was kind of a whirlwind of a week. I was glad I got to get the scout team reps in practice, throw and catch the ball a little bit, and get my feet back under me. Then I had a little bit of an opportunity there Sunday to put something together. … (I've) just got to be a little more situationally aware. Today, (I) watch it, learn from it, grow from it, move on, and get ready for next week."

View the best photos from pregame and in-game, after Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams.

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