Wilson embraces challenge

For upwards of an hour a day throughout the offseason, cornerback C.J. Wilson worked on his press coverage techniques -- in his bathroom of all places.

"I knew one of the things that the coaches had in mind was me getting better at re-routing," Wilson said. "I'd go in my bathroom, and I'd look in my mirror.

"It wasn't anything that had me sweating, but mentally I was exhausted."

Wilson also spent time looking figuratively into the mirror, focusing on how to reroute his career in Carolina.

Wilson appeared poised to become the Panthers' top backup at corner last season, a spot that typically see lots of action in nickel packages, but unheralded rookie Captain Munnerlyn came out of seemingly nowhere and seized the spot.

"That was a hard one, but you never really know what the plans are for you," Wilson said. "I always believe that what God has for me, no man can take away.

"I'm still here, so I'm good."

Wilson certainly has been good in the preseason. At training camp that just wrapped up, he seemed to get his hands on the football more than anyone on his side of the ball, and in the preseason opener, he accounted for the Panthers' lone touchdown with a 31-yard fumble return.

"When I see that ball, it's like a fat man at a barbecue," Wilson said. "He's going after that meat, brother. Forget the coleslaw; he wants the meat.

"That's how I feel when I see the ball. You've got to have a nose for the ball."

Now, Wilson is working on developing hands for the ball. Twice at Fan Fest, he had a shot at an interception but couldn't quite haul it in.

He has no such difficulty, however, extending a helping hand.

"I try to help the young guys with little tips," Wilson said, eschewing the line of logic that a player battling for a spot wouldn't be wise to aid a fellow competitor. "I do it because I know it's only going to better me by bettering them.

"I look at it as a challenge."

Since last season, Wilson appears to have challenged himself. A seventh-round draft pick out of Baylor in 2007, Wilson has played limited snaps in 15 regular season games and one postseason game, totaling 13 tackles.

Entering his fourth season, Wilson is aiming to tackle a larger role.

"I've seen improvement in his play. He had a good outing last week," head coach John Fox said. "He worked very hard this offseason, both in the weight room and on the field in grass drills."

Wilson said that after all the commitment he put into press coverage in the offseason, he doesn't hear the coaches expressing concern about it anymore.

That doesn't mean, however, that Wilson is finished with the man in the mirror.

"The thing about challenges," Wilson said, "it that it's not so much who you're going against; it's about what you're trying to bring out of yourself."

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