Free safety Haruki Nakamura allowed Atlanta wideout Roddy White to get behind him in the final minute Sunday, which he said cost the Panthers a victory.
Now the player behind Nakamura on the depth chart is slated to get more practice reps this week, which might cost Nakamura his starting job.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said backup safety Sherrod Martin will see more action. He left open the possibility that Martin could replace him as the starter after Nakamuras nightmare day in a 30-28 loss to the Falcons.
Nakamura had four big miscues three on touchdown plays and the breakdown against White that led to Matt Bryants game-winning field goal with five seconds left.
After the Panthers allowed 405 yards in a 36-7 loss to the New York Giants on Sept. 20, Rivera said it was too early to make personnel changes on defense. Now he is considering a switch at safety.
If were going to evaluate, were going to evaluate different combinations and what those possibilities can be, Rivera said Monday. I think when you go back and look at what happened in training camp, I didnt think Sherrod did a bad job. Weve got obviously until Sunday to make a decision on what were going to do.
Martin, a second-round draft pick in 2009, was a full-time starter in 2010 and 2011 and has seven career interceptions. He fell out of favor last season with a series of missed tackles in the open field.
Nakamura signed with the Panthers during the offseason after backing up All-Pro Ed Reed for four seasons in Baltimore. He was signed in part to improve the Panthers special teams, but he won the free safety job after the third preseason game, against the New York Jets.
We liked how Haruki came in and fit the job description at that position for us, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. He got us lined up and he did some good things for us, and that evolved into him being the starter. But just like any position, we continue to evaluate every week and make decisions on a week-to-week basis.
Nakamura had his first regular-season interception Sunday, picking off Matt Ryan at the goal line, and he knocked down a pass in the end zone intended for Julio Jones.
But he also gave up two touchdown catches to White, allowed White to get behind him for a 59-yard reception when the Falcons were backed up at their 1 with less than a minute remaining, and missed a tackle on running back Michael Turners 60-yard touchdown catch.
He also took responsibility for the loss after the game.
Its nobody elses fault but mine, Nakamura said. He got behind me. Thats my fault. Thats nobody elses. Like I said, its very upsetting.
McDermott said Nakamura accepting blame is indicative of the type of person he is.
I havent lost confidence in him, and I dont believe anybody in that room has lost confidence in him, McDermott said. He had a tough day, but we all had tough days.
McDermott said Nakamura was one of the first players to arrive at Bank of America Stadium on Monday morning.
The guys a winner, McDermott said. Whether hes starting on defense or helping us on special teams or what, hes a good guy to have around the organization.
Hes a winner and Ill go to bat with winners any day of the week.
Nakamura has taken every snap at safety except the three plays Martin was in against New Orleans. McDermott said Martin has handled the situation with class.
Ive got nothing but the utmost respect for (Martin), McDermott said. Hes a big factor in what we do on defense and what we do on special teams. Hes a class individual and hes a big part of what we do.
He might soon have a bigger part.