Carolina Panthers

Panthers' Peppers concerned about defense, not personal accolades

Defensive end Julius Peppers forces Oakland quarterback Andrew Walter to fumble the ball.
Defensive end Julius Peppers forces Oakland quarterback Andrew Walter to fumble the ball.

CHARLOTTE -- The same day he was honored for his own performance, Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was still picking apart the problems from their win at Oakland.

Peppers was named NFC defensive player of the week for his three-sack, two-forced fumble day against the Raiders in which he had eight tackles, three quarterback pressures and batted down a pass.

He shrugged and accepted congratulations for his work but then started in on what he didn't like last week.

"Good week for me individually, but it speaks to what we're doing as a team collectively," Peppers said. "I was the one getting the sacks and making the plays, but it came off the other guys, working off them helping, too. ...

"Statistically, that game was good, but really, that was one of our worst games playing the run. Too many holes open, not enough discipline in gap responsibility and technique, alignment and stuff like that."

The Panthers allowed the Raiders to rush for 147 yards, the highest total they've allowed this year. They entered the game 14th against the run but now rank 17th.

Whatever the Raiders did on the ground didn't hurt them much as they managed just a pair of field goals. That left the Panthers ranked second in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 14.8 per game. They're eighth in the league in yards allowed per game (290.4), down from third in the league after Week 5.

When asked if Peppers' individual game was the best he's turned in, coach John Fox continued to marvel at what two of his guys were capable of.

"That question came up with (wide receiver) Steve Smith a while back," Fox said. "Fortunately, they are both on our team, and I've seen some remarkable performances out of both of them along with some other guys. But those two guys are special talents.

"Julius, no question, has had a lot of big games, and we needed one Sunday. The type of game it was we needed that phase of the game to be big, and he was a big part of that."

• DELAYED REACTION: There were two sets of cheers after practice, one when Fox announced Peppers' weekly honor, and another when he finally got around to telling the assembled team that linebacker Jon Beason had won the NFC defensive player of the month for October. Granted, that was announced nearly two weeks ago.

"Foxy came up today and he was like, 'Hey man, I'm sorry. I didn't even know,'" Beason said. "So he announced it, and the guys got on me for it."

It's reasonable to think Beason had won another honor after last week's performance. He was credited with 15 tackles in the stats collected Sunday, but that number shrank one during the count the team takes after watching film. But that still left him with 14, the fifth time in nine game's he's been in double digits.

By the league stats, taken from the game-day stat crews, Beason is second in the NFC and fourth in the NFL with 79 stops, trailing Cleveland's D'Qwell Jackson (88), San Francisco's Patrick Willis (82) and Indianapolis' Gary Brackett (80).

"I think just experience," Fox said when asked how Beason's improved. "He was late to camp a year ago. He started at outside linebacker and was moved to middle linebacker. Being a rookie is enough of a problem in itself and then to change positions. I'm sure he'd tell you he's a lot more comfortable. He's more comfortable with the league. He's got more of a pro body now as far as offseason conditioning and length of season and the things that go along with that maturity.

"Then just being comfortable. This game is about playing fast, and the more comfortable you are the more efficient you are."

• EXTRA POINTS: Only one player was held out of practice Wednesday as center Ryan Kalil (ankle) worked on the sidelines. Kalil tried to go last week, but wasn't as far along from his high ankle sprain as he thought, and left the Oakland game in the first quarter.

Defensive tackle Darwin Walker (neck) was limited in practice, the only other player on the report.

Running back Jonathan Stewart practiced fully after missing two days last week with soreness in his left heel. Asked if the pain had subsided, Fox replied: "He was well enough to practice today." ...

Running back DeAngelo Williams, coming off his career-best 140 yards last week, is also hot at home lately. He has 297 yards (99.0 per) and three touchdowns in his last three games in Charlotte.

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