- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
The Carolina Panthers are the final stop in our Saturday series of team-by-team mailbags.
JP in Yadkinville, N.C., writes: Pat, I need some hope as a Panthers fan ... Can Hollis Thomas catch lighting in a bottle and stop the run? One more... do you think Ron Meeks gets more aggressive with the safeties assuming Chris Harris plays?
Pat Yasinskas: I thought the pickup of defensive tackle Hollis Thomas was a good move. This guy was a quality player before running into injury problems with the Saints last year. I’m not saying he’s going to come in and carry the Panthers to a Super Bowl. Fact is, he’s 35 and isn’t an every-down player. But he can at least help the run defense just by taking up space on the field. That’s something the Panthers have lacked since Maake Kemoeatu went down with an injury on the first day of training camp.
John in Spartanburg, SC writes: What do you think will happen to this team if by some chance the Fox pulls this out (8-8 or better)? Will he still be booted due to his inability to post consecutive winning seasons?
Pat Yasinskas: My personal opinion is that John Fox needs a winning season and a playoff berth to keep his job. I think there’s a growing impatience with ownership. Fox got a free pass in 2007 when quarterback Jake Delhomme went down with an injury. You don’t get a free pass just because Kemoeatu went down this year. This team still has tons of talent and it’s not showing up right now.
Kevin in Durham writes: Do you think Beason "calling out" Peppers will have a positive or negative effect on the team?
Pat Yasinskas: Can’t hurt. My first reaction was that Julius Peppers would disappear because that’s what he did after Jerry Richardson called him out in 2007. But then I thought about it and decided Peppers can’t really disappear much more than he has so far this season. Jon Beason’s comments might spark him. Beason’s probably the only guy in the locker room with the respect and influence to do this and make it work.
Greg in South Riding, Va., writes: Tell it to me straight so that if my worst fears are valid I can begin the grieving process. Do you think that it is a real possibility that some of Carolina's best players, like Jon Beason or Steve Smith, could be so fed up after this season that they would leave?
Pat Yasinskas: Well, a lot’s going to depend on how the rest of the year plays out. Beason and Smith are both proud and they’re competitors. I don’t imagine either will be happy if things continue the way they are. But they both remain under contract to the team. They could always ask out, but the Panthers -- no matter who’s running the show -- would be very hesitant to let their two best players go. If things continue to go downhill, I think that would lead to a coaching change and the Panthers would look to bring in someone who would inspire Smith, Beason and the rest of the roster.