TJP:With this being the final dress rehearsal for our first teams, are you looking forward to seeing Steve Smith go up against Darrelle Revis as much as we are here in NY?
CC:Are you kidding me? I saw the intensity Smith had when matched up with Vontae Davis last week and Revis is simply the best cover corner in the game, bar none. He’s not nearly as physical as Davis, but he’s much more consistent and there are no lapses in his game. Steve Smith will have to reach down deep in his bag of veteran tricks to get open much, but I don’t think Revis will have much success getting the stronger Smith off his route in press coverage. It’ll be an interesting battle to watch to be sure.
TJP:Is there a particular part of the Panthers game you are looking forward to watching, to see exactly where your team’s progress is?
CC:Two, actually – first and foremost is the rush defense up the middle. Injuries really decimated the front seven last season for us, but they have the long-term “benefit” – if you will – of building depth. DT Ron Edwards returns along with Pro-Bowl linebacker Jon Beason from injuries last year. I think we got 1 quarter of play the entire year between the two of them. When you add in a kid like Luke Kuechly who has played like an All-Pro so far, I’m excited about the prospects.
On the other hand, we need to find some pass rushers! Charles Johnson can’t do it alone from his RDE position and we traded up into the 4th round to pick up Oklahoma’s Frank Alexander to eventually play the strongside DE. Don’t forget about Thomas Keiser, though. He made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent last year and had 4 sacks in 8 games, so there’s the possibility that more than one pass-rushing threat could emerge.