If Captain Munnerlyn wasn’t at full strength heading into the game against the Houston Texans, he sure didn’t leave the game completely healthy after pulling his hamstring on Sunday. He is listed as day-to-day, hasn’t practiced yet and might miss his first game of the season. Munnerlyn still played against the Texans, despite an ankle injury. Cornerback Darius Butler wasn’t able to play in that game due to a concussion he suffered the previous week, so former seventh rounder R.J. Stanford had to come in for Munnerlyn instead.
The good news is that Butler is expected to play on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he has played very well for the Panthers so far this year. It looks like the Patriots weren’t wise when they released the former second round “bust” in September, and the Panthers have benefited from Butler’s play this year. He is a physical corner and concerns over his play in run support, which stemmed from his disappointing tenure in New England, have yet to be seen so far. Safety Charles Godfrey also went down with an injury last week, as he re-aggravated a shoulder injury, but Rivera believes that he should be good to go next week. However, I must note that Godfrey has the third most missed tackles this season with 16.
Rivera, however, isn’t as optimistic on Munnerlyn’s chances of playing against the Bucs, but I think he ends up suiting up on Saturday. If he isn’t able to play, then expected to see more playing time from Brandon Hogan. The rookie out of West Virginia has great instincts, quick feet, and he has a ton of talent. His draft stock fell due to concerns over his maturity, and Hogan was arrested for urinating in public and for DUI. Hogan played fairly well in limited action against the Texans, and he has the talent and potential to become a starting corner. However, it must be noted that Hogan isn’t the fastest corner out there and is better off in zone coverage due to his ability to read the play. As I said after they drafted him, Carolina got off another steal when they selected Hogan (just like they did with Greg Hardy and safety Jordan Pugh).
Before this tab gets annihilated by some combination of your mouse and the “x” button, I would like to lay down one final stat from you. This one comes from Football Outsiders, and it is an interesting one for sure. The Panthers allow the third lowest DVOA% to receivers who are not the No. 1 or No. 2 receivers on the opposing team. This basically means that the Panthers are the third best team in the NFL at covering such players, which is a testament to Butler’s strong play in the nickel. It really looks like the coaching staff has gotten this guy to play, as he wasn’t nearly as physical with the Pats and has morphed into a completely different player. He passed his concussion test and has resumed practicing yesterday; as Rivera said, he’s going to play. By the way, Butler (@DariusButler27) has some interesting things to say on Twitter; you might want to start following him.
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