Panthers hoping to cash in against sack-prone Bears
By Joseph Person
Posted: Friday, Oct. 08, 2010
The sacks were coming at such a furious pace, Everette Brown did not have time to see what Chicago was doing wrong when he watched the Bears give up 10 sacks last week in a loss to the New York Giants.
Brown, the Carolina Panthers' second-year defensive end, just knows he wants to see more of them Sunday when the Panthers face a Bears' offensive line that was overmatched in the 17-3 loss to the Giants.
"You have to get excited. Nine sacks in the first half, you don't see that - not even at the college level," Brown said Thursday. "You're preparing for a team that has given up a lot of sacks, you just have to look for those keys, those pre-snap reads ... so you can get up the field and get the quarterback."
The Giants set an NFL record with the nine first-half sacks and knocked quarterback Jay Cutler from the game with a concussion. The Bears announced backup Todd Collins, a 16-year NFL journeyman, will make his first start in three years Sunday against the Panthers.
Collins, 38, has attempted only 16 passes since starting three games for Washington in 2007. His only season as a starter was with Buffalo in 1997, when the Bills finished 6-10.
"He's a veteran guy. He's been around the game a long time, knows how to play the position," Panthers coach John Fox said. "Whoever they put at quarterback, they're going to run their system and play within what they do."
The Bears' system is similar to the one offensive coordinator Mike Martz ran when he was head coach at St. Louis from 2000-2005 - a vertical passing game that produces big plays but subjects his quarterbacks to a lot of hits. Collins followed Cutler to the bench against the Giants after sustaining a stinger.
Because Collins, 6-foot-4, 223 pounds, is less mobile than Cutler, Brown said the key is collapsing the pocket on him. But Fox indicated that task will not be easy because of the emphasis the Bears will place on protection after last week's showing.
Carolina rookie defensive end Greg Hardy said the Panthers' timing could have been better.
"We're disappointed we didn't have them last week. We get them the week they get to fix everything and make all the adjustments," Hardy said. "But it's exciting to be a defensive lineman and watch a team give up sacks."
The Panthers have four sacks in four games, with only two from the defensive line. End Charles Johnson has both of them.
Brown and Hardy, both considered pass-rush specialists, have been shut out.
"You're looking for that first win. You're looking for that first sack. And when it doesn't come as quick as you want it to or need it to ... you're trying to find ways to get it," Brown said. "Some people say you've got to let the game come to you. But when it's not coming, you have to go get it."
Leading receiver Steve Smith remains out with a high ankle sprain. He continues to wear a boot on his left foot, and said his "situation hasn't changed."
Nickel back/punt returner Captain Munnerlyn said he was getting X-rays on his right foot Thursday after a receiver stepped on it during practice.
Starting safety Sherrod Martin (concussion) and right tackle Jeff Otah (knee) did not practice. Linebacker Jamar Williams (neck), who said he hoped to play against his former team, sat out after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday.
Tailback DeAngelo Williams returned from an illness.
Fox was asked about the comments of Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers, who signed with the Bears in March following eight seasons with the Panthers. Peppers said he traded text messages with Fox, but had not spoken directly with his former coach or Panthers general manager Marty Hurney since leaving the team.
"I know I communicated with him, (through) whatever means of communication," Fox said. "I think he knows how I feel. I know how he feels, and I don't share all those things in the newspaper."
Panthers rookie defensive end Eric Norwood will be honored Saturday during South Carolina's home game against Alabama as the Gamecocks' career leader in sacks and tackles for loss. Norwood's name and accomplishments are listed on the concrete fašade at Williams-Brice Stadium.