Carolina Panthers

In New Orleans, Panthers guard Trai Turner ready to ‘encourage the hate’

Carolina Panthers guard Trai Turner chats with fans following the team's 27-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN. on Sunday, November 15, 2015.
Carolina Panthers guard Trai Turner chats with fans following the team's 27-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN. on Sunday, November 15, 2015. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

While some of his teammates were off to TV studios or college football games this weekend during the Carolina Panthers’ so-called mini-bye, second-year guard Trai Turner was headed home to New Orleans – a week before Carolina will be in the Superdome to face the Saints.

Turner, the leading vote-getter at guard in the latest Pro Bowl balloting, says he’s not using the weekend as a chance to scout the Saints, who play at Houston on Sunday.

But Turner said he “might take a peek” at the Saints and their new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who replaced Rob Ryan during the team’s bye week.

“I get a few days to get away,” Turner said. “As soon as I come back then I’ll be focused on New Orleans.”

Turner, who played at LSU, said he’s recognized when he goes out in New Orleans but knows the Who Dat nation is loyal to the Saints.

“I enjoy the support. I encourage the hate, also,” Turner said. “It’s fun.”

▪  Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy and a national championship at Auburn in 2010, will serve as an honorary captain for the Tigers during their Iron Bowl game Saturday against Alabama.

Panthers safety Roman Harper will be on the other sideline cheering on the Crimson Tide.

“I’ll definitely be there repping my guys,” Harper said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be there to watch Nick (Saban) and the Tide roll.”

▪  Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis and cornerback Josh Norman will be in Bristol, Conn., to serve as guest analysts on ESPN’s NFL Countdown at 11 a.m. Sunday.

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