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Friday, November 29, 2013
Panthers could have two new corners

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Despite a seven-game winning streak and an 8-3 record, the Carolina Panthers are auditioning for starters at both cornerback spots heading into Sunday's home game against Tampa Bay.

Not that anybody should be surprised after the way they were burned deep in a 20-16 victory at Miami.

Coach Ron Rivera said on Friday the only members of the secondary guaranteed a starting spot are safeties Quintin Mikell and Mike Mitchell.

That means Captain Munnerlyn, who is only guaranteed a role as the starting nickel back, is in danger of losing his left cornerback spot and Melvin White his right corner position.

Munnerlyn was beaten by Miami receiver Mike Wallace for a 53-yard touchdown pass and a 57-yarder that resulted in a field goal in the first half. He also was beaten deep later in the game, but Wallace was overthrown.

White struggled in the 24-20 victory against New England two weeks ago and was inconsistent against the Dolphins.

“Your job is to keep it [play] in front of you and you have to,'' Rivera said after the game. "And we’re going to address that and make sure that it gets corrected. We’re going to play the guy that will do the things we ask him to do and do them the right way.”

He obviously meant it.

While Rivera didn't name starters, he spoke well of veteran Drayton Florence, who rejoined the team in Week 3 after a rash of injuries in a 24-23 loss at Buffalo.

He also was complimentary of Josh Thomas, who started five of the first six games before being replaced after getting beaten deep in a win over St. Louis.

Rivera said the more players are pushed into opportunities the more they've taken advantage of them.

"Ever since Drayton Florence has gotten back he's made a difference,'' he said.

Reading between the lines, you could see Florence at one corner spot and Thomas at the other against the Bucs.