Buried under the avalanche of yards and points the Carolina Panthers defense surrendered in a 48-33 loss Sunday at Atlanta was a defensive lineup change.
Free safety Colin Jones made his sixth career start, replacing Tre Boston as the Panthers looked to get more physical against the run.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said coaches wanted to use Boston situationally on third downs, where he’s been most productive over his three seasons.
Although Jones started, the special teams regular only logged 10 of 67 defensive snaps. Boston played 23 defensive snaps, and newly acquired Michael Griffin received 34.
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Boston and Griffin each finished with three tackles, while Jones had two stops.
“I love toughness. And Colin Jones (is) a guy that does things the right way,” Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. “Colin is a guy that earns the right every week to play, the way he does on special teams. He’s of high character and toughness, and I’ll take those guys any day of the week.”
McDermott did not say who he planned to start at free safety next week against Tampa Bay.
McDermott said he was disappointed rookie cornerback James Bradberry injured his toe early against the Falcons because he wanted to see how the second-round pick would fare against Julio Jones, one of the top wideouts in the league.
The early results were not encouraging. Jones had receptions against Bradberry on each of the first three plays.