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March 22, 2006

Panthers could face predicament with rules proposal

If a proposed rule change is approved at next week’s NFL meeting in Florida, the Carolina Panthers will have to make an interesting, and perhaps unconventional, decision.

Atlanta Falcons general manager Rich McKay, co-chairman of the league’s competition committee, said Wednesday teams will vote on a proposal to allow defensive players to wear radio helmets, similar to the coach-to-quarterback helmets used by offenses.

McKay said concerns about teams stealing hand signals has led to the proposal. If approved, a defensive coach would be able to talk to one defensive player through the radio. Each team would have to designate before the game which player will wear the radio helmet. That player is the only one who can wear the helmet during the game. If that player is injured, teams would have to go back to using hand signals.

That’s where things could get interesting. Like most teams, the Panthers have used a middle linebacker to call defensive plays in the huddle. Conventional wisdom would say that defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac would relay the plays to Dan Morgan.

But that’s where things could get tricky. Morgan’s career has been filled with injuries. Some of them have been long term, and some have been only for a couple of plays. That history would suggest that chances are pretty good Morgan will miss some time in the future.

When Morgan was injured, the Panthers let weakside linebacker Will Witherspoon receive the hand signals from Trgovac and relay them to the huddle. But Witherspoon left for St. Louis as a free agent and the Panthers don’t have a lot of depth or experience at linebacker.

Maybe they’ll just take their chances with Morgan. Or maybe they’ll think outside the box. Safety Mike Minter played 100 percent of the defensive snaps in 2003 and ’04 and 99 percent of the plays last season. If the Panthers really are concerned about signals being stolen, they might be wise to put the radio in Minter’s helmet.

Posted by Observer Sports on March 22, 2006 at 06:39 PM | Permalink


Morgan can wear the helmet every game that he's healthy. If he gets hurt, they make due for the rest of the game and have someone else wear it the next game. You seem to be suggesting that if he gets hurt in Game 1, nobody gets to wear the helmet all year. I don't think that is true.

Posted by: DC Contingent | Mar 22, 2006 8:26:14 PM

Just stick to the hand signals and give the special helmet to Hoover. He needs all the protection he can get up there for that big, flat head of his.

Posted by: Ted | Mar 22, 2006 10:27:01 PM

Minter should have it, hands down. The guy is almost always healthy and is the veteran leader on this defense.

Posted by: Shane Dunaway | Mar 23, 2006 12:49:33 AM

Give it to Morgan,then if he's injured give the radio to Thomas Davis to speed his development.

Posted by: John Neal | Mar 23, 2006 11:31:09 AM

Let Morgan have it, and if he gets injured give it to Minter.

Posted by: threemoney21 | Mar 23, 2006 1:11:26 PM

Why not have Julius Peppers wear the mic. somehow I suspect the rest of the defence would not argue with him, he stays healthy, and plays smart.

Posted by: Dusty Rhodes | Apr 8, 2006 3:07:48 PM

Pat, pull your head out of your ass and step up.

Posted by: Darrin Gannt | Apr 11, 2006 1:27:14 PM

Maybe Pat should wear the helmet!

Posted by: Patfan | Apr 18, 2006 12:58:34 PM


Posted by: Yeahboyyyyyyyyyyyyy | Apr 19, 2006 6:11:45 PM

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