It's been a bad 2 weeks for Panthers rookie Derrick Brown. He knows he has to be better.

By Alaina Getzenberg, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Football

The Panthers drafted Derrick Brown to be an immediate starter on the defensive line.

The seventh overall pick is the start of a defensive rebuild, a step toward replacing the linemen who left in free agency - Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Bruce Irvin, Mario Addison.

General manager Marty Hurney said during the draft that he believes a team starts building a defense from up front. That's the goal with Brown.

But in his first two games as an NFL player, Brown's mistakes have received more attention than his positive play. In his first two starts, he has totaled three tackles, two passes defensed and one tackle for loss.

And his play was highlighted in the Panthers' loss to the Buccaneers because of two costly third-down penalties that created first downs for Tampa Bay.

The first was an unnecessary roughness penalty in the first quarter after a late hit on running back LeSean McCoy on a third-and-9 that gave the Buccaneers the ball at Carolina's 7-yard line and immediately led to a Ronald Jones rushing touchdown. The second was a hands-to-the face penalty in the third quarter on third-and-11 that resulted in a first down at the Carolina 41.


"I had a hands-to-the-face call, trying to push the pocket and get pressure on Tom (Brady). (My) hands got kind of high, I mean it happens," Brown said Wednesday. "I had another play call, late hit, already in the air when when the guy hit the ground. It's one of those plays you got to try to avoid. I'm always going to sell out for my team and always try to do everything full speed. I'll take two bad calls giving it him my best effort. I'll take that at the end of the day and I'm just got to work on my technique and getting my hands down."

Those types of mistakes aren't atypical for rookies, but it's still not something the Panthers want to see from their first round-pick. Carolina coach Matt Rhule, however, said that if the penalties are coming from Brown doing everything he can, it's not the worst thing.

"Derrick cares greatly. I had him come meet with me (Monday) morning," Rhule said. "I said, 'forget the penalties.' I mean, he's (320) pounds, he's running 20 yards down the field, he can't stop. He lands on the guy. I said, 'try to get rid of it.' But he's playing the way we want to play. I mean, he's making plays 15 yards down the field. He's going to get doubled a lot in pass protection, his name won't always maybe get called, but he's making plays down the field.

"I think when penalties are made out of elite effort, we have to just kind of deal with it. I don't think it's anything about young or old. I mean, maybe to an extent, but we're just a little bit grabby and pass interference. We have a tendency to grab and we just have to put it a little bit more confidence to go attack the ball. But the aggressive penalties I can live with."


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