Skip to main content
Carolina Panthers

Strickly Panthers: Rookie DTs earning it


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – When the Panthers selected defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain in the third round of the most recent NFL Draft, they realized the pair would need to contribute sooner rather than later.

Their time has arrived less than two weeks into training camp, but the duo doesn't merely want to contribute by default.

"You definitely want to earn your spot," Fua said. "You don't want to just be thrown in there because of where you were drafted. You want to earn the spot and have the fans and coaches know that you're ready to play and that you're not in there just because you were drafted in the third round."

The Panthers showed faith in the pair by not re-signing defensive tackles Derek Landri and Ed Johnson. They did bring in a veteran presence with the signing of 10-year pro Ron Edwards, but Edwards is out indefinitely with a torn triceps muscle.

"If anybody goes down, it's always the next man in, and you've got to bring intensity," McClain said. "Ron is a really good defensive tackle. I've learned a lot from him, and I'm still learning from him every day. If we need anything, all we've got to do is ask him. He's going to be with us every day."

Edwards won't be playing again anytime soon, however, so Fua and McClain could find themselves on the field even more than originally planned when the Panthers open their preseason schedule Saturday against the New York Giants.

"Hopefully we can bring our talents together and perform well on the field at the same time," Fua said. "Terrell is playing that three-technique (lined up across from the guard's inside shoulder) in our defense, and they want the three-technique to penetrate. Terrell is really quick off the ball. He has really good hands and really good speed. For me, I'm supposed to just dominate the center. That's my game.

"We have different games, but we're both good at what we do."

PRESEASON OPENER TICKETS: Less than 1,000 tickets now remain for Saturday night's game against the Giants at Bank of America Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased one of four ways: Online at, Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone (1-800-745-3000), Ticketmaster Ticket Centers and the Bank of America Stadium Ticket Office.


TOP OF THE LINE: A year ago as a rookie, Eric Norwood was listed as a reserve at both linebacker and defensive end.

This season, with just one position to worry about, Norwood is now listed at the top of the depth chart, currently holding down a starting spot at defensive end along with Charles Johnson.

"I would say right now he's probably ahead of Everette (Brown)," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "He's kind of established himself as a dynamic, physical player, where you see Everette with a little bit more finesse, a little bit more speed on the outside.

"I think both guys most certainly bring something to the table. Both guys have a unique ability to rush the passer on the edge. So it's going to be exciting to see how those guys perform when we get in a live situation."

While Rivera credited Norwood's physical nature for his current role, Norwood credited his mental approach.

"I've always been physical, but mentally is where I've improved the most," Norwood said. "I think it's paying attention to the details, to little things that I wasn't doing last year. This year, I'm really taking in all the coaching that I can and being physical with it.

"It helps that it's just one position instead of two, instead of going here one day and going there the next. I wouldn't say it's simple, but it is easier for me to study. I feel a lot more comfortable at defensive end now."

THAT'S A STRETCH: To combat the hamstring issues he had as a rookie, wide receiver Brandon LaFell took yoga three days a week during the offseason in Baton Rouge, La., where he played college ball at Louisiana State University.

"I did a lot of yoga to try to get some flexibility," said LaFell, who took the class with about a half-dozen of his LSU teammates, among others. "There were a lot of older women in there killing us. We were struggling.

"I think it's going to help. I'm a naturally tight guy, so the more stretching I could do in the offseason, the more it will help me during the season."

LaFell had his own yoga mat but, no, he didn't wear tights.

"I just wore regular shorts," he said.

WEDNESDAY'S SCHEDULE: The Panthers will return to their regular schedule with a 6 p.m. practice.

As is the case after most practices, children between the ages of 6 and 13 are invited to participate in the Panther Pals program by signing up at the welcome tent near the entrance to the practice fields. Five names are drawn about 30 minutes before the end of practice, and winners get to spend a few minutes with a player after practice.

Related Content