When Carolina traded with Buffalo for cornerback Kevon Seymour just as the regular season began, it was assumed that Seymour would be a depth piece – some insurance at a position with two talented second-year corners the headliners.
But Seymour has seen his snaps increase over the past nine weeks to the point where he is in what statistically indicates a rotation with corner Daryl Worley.
Worley has started eight of nine games thus far (he was injured in Carolina’s victory against New England).
Against Philadelphia last month, Worley played 37.1 percent of available defensive snaps, while Seymour played 62.9 percent. Worley was beaten during the game on a 1-yard touchdown run by tight end Zach Ertz, and Seymour came in. After the game, Worley said he had “no clue” why he was replaced.
Against Chicago, Seymour (who was beaten on a 70-yard scamper by Bears running back Tarik Cohen) played just 7.9 percent of the defensive snaps while Worley played 89.5. Worley also saw the larger share (79.1 percent) over Seymour (20.9 percent) against Tampa.
... obviously you don’t want to be in a rotation because as an NFL corner, you want to be able to get in some type of groove, some type of rhythm. ... If you give up a catch or two, that doesn’t define who you are.
Daryl Worley, Panthers cornerback
But against Atlanta last week, Seymour was sent in for Worley when the latter was beaten on a touchdown catch by Mohamed Sanu. Seymour ultimately played 73.3 percent of the game’s defensive snaps while Worley played 31.7.
Worley expressed frustration with being in a rotation on Friday, ahead of Carolina’s Monday Night Football matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
“I don’t know how to put it into words. It’s frustrating, to say the least,” he said. “At the corner – we play a corner position where obviously you don’t want to be in a rotation because as an NFL corner, you want to be able to get in some type of groove, some type of rhythm.
“I mean, if you give up a catch or two, that doesn’t define who you are.”
Worley said he asked defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks “for answers,” but that they simply have told him it was a rotation and nothing further.
“It’s the same old thing every week. We rotate, and then when we get to Sunday it’s kind of a toss-up,” he said. “Whoever makes the calls around here, whoever makes that call whichever one of us should be in the game, I guess they make it on Sundays. I don’t know who makes that call.”
Rivera said early this week that in last Sunday’s case, Seymour showed more comfort in the man-to-man coverage the Panthers were trying to maintain against the Falcons. Worley did not indicate that he had knowledge of that reasoning.
When a guy gets an opportunity, you have to take complete advantage of your opportunity. And remember, it’s not about the snaps, but the quality that you put into the snaps more so than anything else.
Ron Rivera, Panthers coach
Rivera also shared his own views of Worley’s frustration.
“I think it’s a little bit more pride. I think maybe the pride gets nipped a little bit. I think more what you have to understand is that the decisions that are made are what we believe are best for the team,” he said. “When a guy gets an opportunity, you have to take complete advantage of your opportunity. And remember, it’s not about the snaps, but the quality that you put into the snaps more so than anything else.
“And I would like to believe and hope that that is a message that all of those guys have gotten from me.”
The head coach added that maintaining that message requires “a fine balance.”
“Because you have to keep these egos in check,” he said. “There are a lot of young men that are used to – a lot of these young guys, and when I say ‘young’ I’m talking about these first-, second- and third-year players – that come from being stars to now you’re a part of a team. There are very few guys that are separate from anybody else on the 53-man roster.
“You have a specific role, and if you’re not sure about what that specific role is, please come see me. I’ll be happy to explain.”