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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 happen."
What should happen is that the Panthers should compete for a division title.
9 at St. Louis
23 at Atlanta
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