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Carolina Panthers have at least 2 trusted replacements for stars

Carolina Panthers' A.J. Klein (56) comes down with an interception against the Houston Texans, as Roman Harper (41) closes in, during the second half at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. The Panthers won, 24-17.
Carolina Panthers' A.J. Klein (56) comes down with an interception against the Houston Texans, as Roman Harper (41) closes in, during the second half at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. The Panthers won, 24-17. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

When a star gets hurt, how good is his replacement? The Panthers are set at quarterback with Derek Anderson. They’re also set at defensive quarterback. A.J. Klein, who filled in for Luke Kuechly at middle linebacker Sunday, had an interception and four tackles. Rarely is he out of position. His instincts are apparent. Coaches and teammates are comfortable with Klein.

▪  Jadeveon Clowney, the second year linebacker out of Rock Hill and South Carolina, had two tackles Sunday. I’d point the binoculars at him on occasion and there is an elegance to his game. I watched him hurdle a Panther who went low to block him without breaking stride. It looked natural. It will be interesting to see how good he ultimately becomes. That is, will he be a great athlete or a great football player?

▪  Playing for Houston Sunday was Kendall Lamm, who played for Butler and for Appalachian State. He’s a tackle, 6-6 and 305 pounds. So all the cries of “Lamm” when he entered late in the game were for him. Nah, people don’t cheer for offensive linemen. But Lamm is impressive. He wasn’t drafted, but he played.

▪  I asked Mario Addison, the Carolina defensive end who entered Sunday’s game tied for the NFL lead in sacks, what the best part of his job was. His answer is worth repeating.

“To just be able to line up and play with guys that you love, that are going to give their all,” Addison said. “I love every guy. Everybody brings different things to the table. Some got power, some got speed, some got power and speed and some got great hands. Our D-line coach (Eric Washington) is phenomenal. He’s going to break it down to the smallest molecule. If you leave here you can be a defensive coordinator or a defensive line coach somewhere else.” 

▪  Late in the game, when the Texans embarked on the drive that could tie the score, Cam Newton stepped onto the field and, to try to get fans as excited as he was, did a series of jumping jacks. He had a towel on his head, but we’ve stopped criticizing him for that, right? We’re all adults now, or at least old enough to imitate one, right? We’ve moved beyond that, right? I just wanted to check. Thanks. 

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