Fox came to
Carolina after having been a Super Bowl defensive coordinator with the Giants,
and the defense has been suitably reliable, finishing seventh in the NFL a year
ago and only once out of the top 10 in five years. Defensive end Julius Peppers
is among the best players in the league, and veteran end Mike Rucker is back
after off-season knee surgery.
Yet both safeties
will be new (10-year veteran Mike Minter retired during camp), and rookie
linebacker Jon Beason will have to be integrated into the lineup if former Pro
Bowl player Dan Morgan, who missed all of '06 after suffering a concussion,
can't go. "Our defense is in a little bit of a transition phase," says
Fox. "Of course people say our whole division is in transition. Then again,
those same people said New Orleans would be lucky to win four games last year.
We do this for a living, and even we don't know what's going to
What should happen
is that the Panthers should compete for a division title.
9 at St. Louis
23 at Atlanta
30 TAMPA BAY