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Panthers reboot after bye week with fresh ideas

By Kevin Tolbert

The Carolina Panthers returned to Bank of America stadium after 42-21 loss to the Dolphins and a shortened Week-7 bye week. Instead of the normal full week off that many teams take, the Panthers kept their players engaged for the first part of the bye week to continue the grind with hopes of turning things around according to head coach Frank Reich. “It’s more just a matter of small incremental changes at multiple places rather than one big change,” Reich said in a Monday afternoon post-bye week press conference.

Before the break, Reich talked about having an appropriate sample size to measure results and future direction as well as self-scouting efforts the players and coaches would engage in to see where the biggest changes needed to happen. That effort was directly related to whether the team would move more in a schematic direction or toward a heavier attempt at improved execution as they look to turn things around. “We just need to execute a little bit better here or there,” Reich said.

Another big announcement going into the bye week was that offensive coordinator Thomas Brown would now assume in-game play calling duties. But despite who calls the plays on Sunday, the players appear to be anxious to get back the action and the next phase the team moves into. That group includes Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard who has taken on a larger role with Miles Sanders out with a shoulder injury. “No matter who we got calling the plays …I know we got the right guy,” Hubbard said during the team’s open locker room session on Monday afternoon.

Hubbard also elaborated on his work during the bye week and what the extra days the team stayed to work on the game plan did for them “It’s kind of like taking a test and then getting all the answers you need and corrections and going back and taking the test again.”

One of the other issues facing the Panthers right now is the list of injuries to key players on offense as well as defense. But with the window closing on when guard Austin Corbett has to return to the active roster, the team will have a big decision to make on whether he is ready for live action. “Every day something new is going on,” Corbett said in response to question about how he’s progressing.

Frank Reich has done a phenomenal job of keeping the emotions of his locker room in check despite the 0-6 start the team has endured. His offense, however, has struggled at times to keep everyone involved consistently. One player that appears to be more concerned about their share of involvement is receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. who recently requested permission to seek a trade.

This move, although approved by the team, sheds new light on how long Reich will be able to maintain his player’s allegiance if the losses continue. Marshall declined to elaborate about ongoing talks about a trade and his discussions about the subject with team officials but did offer a response about his efforts to handle the situation with professionalism. “That’s above me …I come to work with the same mentality no matter if the ball comes my way or not,” Marshall said.

“I’m a big believer of being a good player when the ball is not coming your way …I just want to help any way I can to help this team get the win.”

The Panthers host CJ Stroud and the Houston Texans on Sunday Nov. 29 at 1:00 p.m. ET in a battle of the top two overall picks from this year’s NFL draft.


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