…continued from part 1…
KD: Speaking of the salary cap situation, I’ve noticed the new GM David Gettleman signed some low-cost options in D.J. Moore and Drayton Florence. How do you see yourself fitting in with all the changes in the defensive backfield and the loss of Chris Gamble?
CM: Well, Gam (Chris Gamble) was our number one guy. Last year, Gam got hurt and he was our number one guy, so I plan to get out there and feed off what I did last year towards the end of the year. He was a vocal leader both on and off the field and helped everyone buy-in to what we were doing at the cornerback position. Drayton’s been in the league for a long time and I feel like if I just go out there and do my part we’ll be fine. I think we’ve got as good a group of corners overall as anyone.
KD: You’ve been in the league a little while now and have played under both John Fox and Ron Rivera – both defensive-minded coaches. What do you see as the biggest difference between the two in how they approach the game.
CM: Oh man, they’re both very similar in how they approach things. The only difference really is that Ron Rivera actually played in the NFL! I think he has more of a feel for his players…when they’re hurt or injured and he knows how to get guys back (on the playing field). So I think he’s more in tune with the players since he’s been there and done that.
KD: Great point. He was part of that dominant ’85 Bears defense.
CM: YEAH! Rivera knows where his players are coming from and hopefully I’ll be able to play 12 or 13 years or more because of it. They really are a lot more similar than different.
KD: What’s the biggest challenge in defending the slot as opposed to the outside?
CM: Oh, man, those guys in the slot – they can go anywhere! They’re off the line of scrimmage so it’s harder to get your hands on them to begin with, They’ve got a lot of room in there. I have a high respect for anyone defending the slot. When I first got here I was on the outside and have since played nickel too and I’m still wondering why nickel corners don’t get paid more than the guys on the outside. I HIGHLY respect anyone out there playing the nickel spot. Guys like Wes Welker – they go ANYWHERE on the field. Say, you see guys going on an out-route and you cover them and they turn it to an in-route!
KD: Yeah, the pro QBs are so accurate in their throws and people like Welker are so quick, it has to be a nightmare.
CM: Well, those guys on the outside – at least you have the sideline which limits where they can go.
KD: What’s the biggest need you see the Panthers have on defense and in the secondary in particular?
CM: We’ve got some good guys, we just need someone to step up. Everyone’s got their role, but since we lost Gam that leaves a big pair of shoes to fill so we’ve just gotta pick up the slack.