Inside the Panthers

Panthers’ Luke Kuechly talks new coordinator, being in ‘tough’ position at Super Bowl

Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly had a busy Wednesday, serving soup at a Minnesota soup kitchen, and signing autographs and taking pictures during a couple of appearances at the Mall of America.

Kuechly would rather have been watching film or attending meetings in the hotels connected to the mall that are housing the two Super Bowl LII teams.

“It’s tough. But it’s one of those things you’ve got to earn it and we didn’t have an opportunity to get here,” Kuechly said. “But hopefully we can get there next year.”

Kuechly, who led the Panthers in tackles again in 2017, expressed optimism about the defensive staff changes that were made after former coordinator Steve Wilks left to become the Arizona Cardinals head coach.

Defensive line coach Eric Washington was promoted to coordinator, and former Air Force defensive coordinator Steve Russ was hired as the linebackers coach. Former linebackers coach Al Holcomb went to Arizona as Wilks’ coordinator.

“I think he’s going to be fine. I think it’s good we know Wash. We know what he’s about and what he brings, and his understanding of the defense,” Kuechly said. “It’s all going to be good. It’s just somebody different calling plays.

“It’s kind of like what happened this year with Wilks. The defense stayed the same, just a different guy calling it. So we’ve just got to feel out how Wash is going to call the game and what he likes to do.”

Kuechly said he had a chance to sit down with Russ, who worked with Washington at Ohio University early in their careers.

“He seems like a good dude. He seems like he’s excited,” Kuechly said. “I think he’s really smart. Coach Wash, that’s the guy that he wanted. So I trust coach Wash and I’m sure he’ll be a good dude.”

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson