CHARLOTTE -- For the second week in a row, the Panthers' secondary is going to be tested.
According to the team, however, the streak of being under-appreciated runs much longer.
"They're playing well," defensive end Julius Peppers said of his defensive backs. "Not really getting enough credit. I don't think they're getting the respect they deserve being a part of this defense. Some of the sacks we're getting come from coverage. They cover everybody up, and it gives us time to get there.
"We work hand-in-hand with those guys, and they're doing an excellent job... ."
The Panthers are second in the league in pass defense and third in scoring defense. So you'd think recognition would come their way. However, the group still behaves as if it is unheralded. Maybe that's because of all the dropped interceptions. If they had better hands, they'd have many more than the four picks currently on their stat sheet.
Still, they've taken up the Rodney Dangerfield mantra, swearing no one thinks they're any good.
"We just talk about every week coming in and playing hard and trying to earn some respect," cornerback Richard Marshall said. "That's what we've been doing, just trying to earn some respect out there. There are other secondaries out there getting a lot of publicity. We're just trying to earn our respect, also. And we just come in and try to play hard as a secondary and try to make some plays.
"I'm surprised, but for us it's good because it has us going in with a chip on our shoulders before the game."
Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner's not buying that.
"I see a good defense," Warner said. "Solid across the board, making plays, not giving up a lot of big plays. I see a good defense. I know maybe nationally they're not getting the respect they deserve, but in this locker room and in locker rooms around the league, people have taken notice of who they are defensively, who they are as a football team.
"We give them a bunch of credit. In the amount of film that I watched, I see a very good, solid defense and one that you know that you have to be on top of your game if you want to be successful against them."
Of course, the Cardinals are the league's second-ranked passing offense, but the Panthers did a number on No. 1 New Orleans last week. If they can stop the Cardinals this week, the respect will come, whether they want it or not.
• THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said he wasn't pleased when the Panthers signed Keydrick Vincent this offseason. Vincent eventually won the three-way battle with veteran pickups Milford Brown and Toniu Fonoti and has been a productive starter for the Panthers. The 30-year-old is the only Panthers starting lineman to play every game.
Last week, Vincent said he loved that he didn't have to play much in Arizona, because it allowed him time to recover from his sports hernia surgery the year before. He only played in seven games there after signing in October.
"I commend Carolina on stealing him from us because we were excited about trying to re-sign him here after he came with us last year later in the season," Whisenhunt said. "I know Russ (Grimm, Arizona's line coach), and we both have always liked Keydrick. He played for us in Pittsburgh. I think he brings a lot of things to the table that you look for in an offensive linemen from the standpoint of how he prepares, the physical nature of the way he plays and how he is a good teammate. How he helps other guys and pushes other guys.
"We were disappointed that we were not able to re-sign Keydrick. It's not surprising whatsoever to me that when I put on the tape and watch and see that he is playing very well for them."
• EXTRA POINTS: Not much changed on the injury report Thursday. Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad was back to work after taking Wednesday off (team decision). Right tackle Jeff Otah (ankle) and center Ryan Kalil (ankle) were still out and receiver D.J. Hackett (knee) and linebacker Thomas Davis were able to work on a limited basis. ... Safety Chris Harris was excused from practice after a death in his family.