Carolina Panthers

Panthers to play Young like they would Vick

CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers have never played against Tennessee quarterback Vince Young, but that doesn't mean they don't know what to do with him.

The mobile Young presents many of the same challenges as former Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, so it stands to reason the Panthers would use parts of the plan that worked so well in the past.

Though Vick tormented them for years, Carolina had beaten him three of the last four meetings, using a scheme including linebacker Thomas Davis as a spy and a controlled rush that tried to keep an umbrella of coverage between Vick and the first-down markers.

They didn't want to say too much about this week's game plan, but it figures they'd use many of the same principles.

"You'd be dumb to say you don't recognize his speed," defensive end Mike Rucker said. "He's a playmaker with the ball in his hands. I don't think that's a secret.

"You can't be dumb. You can't rush him like you rush a statue back there. You have to be aware of where you're at and where he's at in your rush lanes."

Davis, who was drafted in part with the idea to be a Vick-stopper, said Young is just as quick despite a considerable size advantage. The 6-foot-5, 233-pound Young hasn't posted the garish rushing numbers Vick once did, but he's 12-7 as a starter after coming in as a rookie last year and earning respect with his game-breaking ability to improvise.

"He's getting a lot done this season with his legs, and we have to work to keep that to a minimum," Davis said. "Definitely, if you give it to him, he's going to take it. He's definitely a guy coming out looking to pass. He's not turning himself to a total runner. But he can take it all the way."

Safety Chris Harris said the Bears used a similar spying technique on Vick when he was there, and acknowledged that Young presents a similar challenge.

"He's one of those quarterbacks who can beat you with his arm and legs," Harris said. "A lot of people overlook his arm, he's got a great arm. But you've got to take that into account when you're rushing him, you've got to know where he's at.

"He's a guy that's going to make things happen. If he doesn't see it, he's going to take off, and he can take over the game. We have to be aware of that when we're rushing, try to contain a pocket and not give him escape lanes out. If it's not there, he's not going to scramble to pass, he's scrambling to get the chains moving."

And that rushing threat, along with a stable of backs averaging 150.9 yards per game (third best in the league), lets the Panthers defenders know that regardless of scheme, this game will be a hard-hitting one.

"Oh yeah, we've got to bring our big-boy pads this week," Harris said. "They are a running team. We go in knowing that and that's what we have to stop."

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