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Monday, October 1, 2012
Panthers ready for shakeup at safety?

By Pat Yasinskas

The Carolina Panthers could be looking at shaking up their struggling defense.

Coach Ron Rivera said Monday that former starter Sherrod Martin will get some practice time with the first team this week and hinted that he could end up back in the starting lineup.

The Panthers have been starting Haruki Nakamura at free safety. They went out and signed him as a free agent in the offseason. The thinking was that Nakamura had been Ed Reed’s backup and was ready to step into a starting role.

But Nakamura hasn’t been at all effective as a starter with the Panthers this season. On Sunday, he particularly struggled in deep coverage. I’ve also seen him take multiple bad angles on tackles downfield.

Martin has some coverage skills, but the Panthers looked to replace him because he missed too many open-field tackles. I’d get the guy with the cover skills back in there. And maybe the time out of the starting lineup has inspired Martin to improve his tackling skills.

Nakamura needs to go back to what he does best. That’s being a backup and a special-teams player.