Another Week, Another Panther Reunion

Safety Thomas DeCoud will try to help the Panthers keep their playoff hopes alive Sunday against his former team.

If it seems like every week one of the Panthers is facing a team they previously spent their entire careers with, it's because that's true. At least for the last three weeks.

Safety Roman Harper, who played with the Saints for eight seasons, went first. Then it was receiver Jason Avant, who returned to Philadelphia after eight years with the Eagles. 

This week, it's safety Thomas DeCoud's turn. 

“Playing your old team, a place where you spent a lot of time, it’s always going to be circled on your calendar with red and yellow highlighter,” DeCoud said.

A third-round draft pick by Atlanta in 2008, DeCoud will match-up against his former teammates when the Panthers host the Falcons Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.  

DeCoud has 40 tackles and one interception in his first year since signing with Carolina this offseason. He's been good at times, but he's also been part of the reason the defense has mostly struggled the last two months. 

Cornerback Josh Norman has emerged as the best player in the Panthers' secondary, and for what it's worth, he gives some of the credit for his emergence to DeCoud.

“He’s one of the guys that I look to back there," Norman said. "He’s one of my buds. We have a lot of fun playing together. I’m glad he made the trip down here to Carolina instead of staying in Atlanta.”

DeCoud's current and former teams are both having rough seasons. Yet both the (3-6-1) Panthers and (3-6) Falcons remain within striking distance of the first-place (4-5) Saints. 

“A couple years ago this was one of the best divisions in football, but right now, from top to bottom, we’re all on the struggle bus. Somebody put that hex on us,” DeCoud said.

Hex or not, the Panthers quickly need to get over whatever's been ailing them. After going through what head coach Ron Rivera called "a murders' row" of five straight games against teams with winning records, the schedule is much softer from here on out.  

Considering how they played during that stretch, it's amazing they still have a shot at the postseason. But if DeCoud can help his new team beat his old, the Panthers will head into their bye week with playoff hopes still flickering. 

"[This game] is going to have a little more oomph to it, a little more energy on my part," DeCoud said. "I just want to go out there and put my best foot forward and have a good game against my old team."

Categories: Black and Blue Review 2, Panthers