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Panthers feel much better about their defensive starting point this year

The Panthers have less than half their opening day starters on defense from 2023 back for the 2024 season, but the overhaul on that side of the ball has not left them feeling like they have to play catch-up ahead of the 2024 season.

Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero remained in the job despite the team’s head coaching job, which provides continuity in terms of the scheme. Several of the players they brought in — defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, linebacker Josey Jewell, and safety Jordan Fuller — have played for Evero with other teams and that means they will be refreshing their knowledge of the defense rather than learning it on the fly.

The combination has Evero feeling much better about where things stand than he did a year ago.

“I wouldn’t say better equipped, but I feel so much better about our starting point compared to last year,” Evero said, via the team’s website. “Just with the experience and knowledge and foundation of the system. Every player that we have has been in, most of the players that we’ve had have been in some version of our system with the same dialogue and language and communication skills. And so from that standpoint, we are a lot further ahead than we were this time last year.”

Two of the new guys without ties to Evero are D.J. Wonnum and Jadeveon Clowney, who had 17.5 sacks between them last year. Keeping them productive while seeing improvement elsewhere on defense would be a good sign for a better year in Carolina.