Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Panthers looking at options at left corner
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Left cornerback Josh Thomas missed Tuesday's practice with a flu bug, which he may or may not have caught from Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
But Thomas has bigger problems -- like keeping his starting job. Or getting it back.
The third-year player allowed a 63-yard completion that was called back because of a penalty and a 73-yarder that wasn't in Sunday's 30-15 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
The coaching staff adjusted, turning to rookie Melvin White and veteran Drayton Florence. Rivera indicated after Tuesday's practice that White might get the start in Thursday night's game at Tampa Bay.
It wouldn't be the first time a cornerback has been replaced this year after making a mistake. Josh Norman missed a call on the game-winning pass of a last-second 24-23 loss to Buffalo in Week 2. He's been on the inactive roster the last three games.
When Rivera was asked if he planned to make a change at corner earlier in the week, he simply said the players that gave the team the best chance to win would play.
As solid as Thomas has been against the run, he's been susceptible against the pass. White, a rookie out of Louisiana-Lafayette, had an interception and forced a fumble earlier this year against the New York Giants.
Rivera likes playmakers.
That White worked with the first unit while Thomas dealt with his bug gives him a leg up on the job.
"We struggled a bit last week," Rivera said. "We made a movejo in the middle of the game. We inserted Drayton; we inserted Melvin. We're looking at what group we're going to insert this week and we'll go with that."
Feeling bad for Bradford: Free safety Mike Mitchell reiterated to the Charlotte Observer on Tuesday that he wasn't trying to hurt St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford when he pushed him out of bounds in the fourth quarter.
He also didn't know Bradford had suffered a season-ending ACL injury when he stood on the sidelines celebrating the play.
Mitchell told the Observer that he asked Rivera to relay that message to Bradford through Rams coach Jeff Fisher.
"I want him to know man-to-man, I try to play this game with honor," Mitchell told the newspaper. "I do try to play it hard and physical. But I do try to play it with honor. I'm not out here trying to hurt anybody.
"I'm sitting in my house and I'm going through my Twitter and so many people were saying messed-up stuff. I hope people -- the people I care about especially -- I don't want them thinking that."