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Saturday, May 1, 2010
Young Panthers are Fox's kind of team

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It’s been kind of interesting to watch Carolina Panthers coach John Fox through three minicamp practices.

For a guy who obviously is on the hot seat and doesn’t know for sure who his starting quarterback will be, Fox sure seems pretty relaxed. I’d go as far as to say there seems to be a certain looseness to Fox that hasn’t been there the past couple of years.

Call it an observation or a theory or just me thinking out loud. I think maybe one positive side of this whole youth movement is that it might be putting Fox in a position to coach the way he likes and do it the way he does best.

Remember when Fox first came to Carolina and pumped life into a franchise and then took it to a Super Bowl in his second season? What happened then was that he had a bunch of guys totally buying into his system. There was unity and harmony that translated into a lot of victories.

I’m not saying Fox lost this team in recent years or anything close to that. But let’s face it, some divisions are going to occur within any group that’s been together for a long period.

First, defensive tackle Kris Jenkins made it clear he wanted out of Carolina. Then, defensive end Julius Peppers did the same thing. Both times, the Panthers kept the malcontents around for another year before parting ways. That behavior didn’t exactly create harmony in the locker room.

Peppers and Jenkins might have had legitimate gripes. Some other guys went more quietly and the Panthers have a very young roster. Yeah, there are a ton of questions to be answered, but sometimes change is good.

Sometimes having a room full of guys who buy into your system can be a lot better than having a few very talented, but very unhappy guys tearing you down.