Panthers bring back Florence to help out secondary
Drayton Florence could go from playing football with his son in
the backyard to NFL starter this week.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Florence, who re-signed with
Carolina on Thursday, could be pressed into a starting role this
Sunday when the Panthers host Eli Manning and the New York Giants
due to injuries at the cornerback position.
Florence, a 10-year NFL veteran who has played in 143 career
games and started 99, attended training camp with the Panthers and
worked primarily with the starters during the preseason before
being released in final roster cuts.
Florence said he spent the past two weeks at his home in
Jacksonville, Fla., playing football with kids, taking them to swim
lessons and getting on his wife’s nerves.
”You have to be ready for everything,” Florence said. ”It was
getting a little frustrating sitting on the couch, so I’m glad they
thought enough of me to bring me back.”
Rivera said injuries to cornerbacks Josh Thomas (concussion) and
Josh Norman (thigh bruise) prompted the Panthers to re-sign
Florence. Although both Thomas and Norman returned to practice on a
limited basis Thursday, there is still plenty of concern over their
status for Sunday.
Two other Carolina cornerbacks – DJ Moore (knee) and James
Dockery (hand) – did not practice Thursday.
”The concern is not only if everyone is going to be cleared,
but if they’re going to be 100 percent,” Rivera said. ”As we look
at it, a concussion is scary thing and a cornerback with a deep
thigh bruise is a scary thing. We had to take a lot of things into
account and we think (signing Florence) was a prudent move. … We
were down to two healthy cornerbacks.”
Rivera said he has plenty of confidence in Florence, saying he
fit right in at practice Thursday.
”It was like he never left,” Rivera said. ”He did a nice job
understanding the concepts that we’re using for this game. It’s
interesting, but veteran guys like that do make the transition
Florence has played for San Diego, Jacksonville, Buffalo and
Detroit and has 444 career tackles and 18 interceptions.
Florence said he’s happy to be back in Carolina, despite the way
things abruptly and unexpectedly ended three weeks ago. He called
it a humbling experience.
”Anytime you get fired from your job it’s tough, but it would
be a lot tougher to come back and be a disappointment,” Florence
Rivera also seems to have settled on a starting strong
He ruled out Quintin Mikell for the game Sunday and said he
expects undrafted rookie Robert Lester from Alabama will get his
first NFL start against Manning. Lester was promoted from the
team’s practice squad to the 53-man roster earlier this week.
”We think Robert Lester is a young man that’s got an
opportunity,” Rivera said. ”He’s the next best available for
Mike Mitchell will start at free safety for Carolina and Captain
Munnerlyn will be the other starting cornerback.
NOTES: To make room on the roster for Florence, the Panthers
waived backup center Brian Folkerts. … Rivera said it is likely
rookie RB Kenjon Barner (foot) will be held out until after the bye
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