NFL: Trgovac, Fox dial down ‘D’
By Mike Cranston
SPARTANBURG, S.C. ó In six seasons as the Carolina Panthersí defensive coordinator, Mike Trgovac has constantly added new wrinkles to the defense.
This offseason, Trgovac and coach John Fox figured it was time to pare down the number of schemes and checkoffs to make things simpler for his younger players.
iWhen youíre together as a staff sometimes for six years, you put something in, you put something in and you never take something out,î Trgovac said Thursday. iAnd we just thought it was time to go back and take a hard look at ourselves and take some things out.î
Itís produced a system that allows players to use their instincts more. Cornerback Ken Lucas was vocal in his support of the new scheme, and itís allowed rookie starting safety Charles Godfrey and newly signed starting defensive end Tyler Brayton to catch on quicker in training camp.
iMaybe we were thinking too much,î Trgovac said. iWe tried to simplify the defense a little bit. When you have new guys like Charles coming in and Tyler coming in and the young guys we had, obviously the less you have to learn the better we think it is.î
ROBINSON INJURED: Return man and receiver Ryne Robinson clutched his left knee in pain after a jarring collision with safety Nate Salley while trying to catch a deep ball Thursday.
Robinson eventually limped to a tent near the practice field and did not return. The team had no update on his condition.
Robinsonís absence late in practice allowed rookie running back Jonathan Stewart to return kickoffs for the first time in camp. Stewart did fumble one return, but Fox hinted he might use him there despite his expected role carrying the ball.
iHe is a guy that did it very well at a high level in college,î Fox said.
LOT OF WORK: With four defensive tackles sidelined with injuries, Stephen Williams, Gary Gibson and Nick Hayden were forced to take all the reps with the top three units.
The most serious injury is to Ian Scott, who will miss at least a couple of weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers took turns using offensive linemen as tackle-eligible receivers in goal-line drills. Geoff Hangartner and Evan Mathis each failed to come up with passes. … The team will travel to Charlotte for Saturdayís annual workout at Bank of America Stadium at 11 a.m. Admission is free.