Panthers Secondary Introduces ‘Thieve Avenue’ for Playoffs

CHARLOTTE, NC (WCCB Charlotte) — The Panthers secondary may be loosening things up in the locker room on a week where they may need to be relied on the most.

Above the line of defensive backs lockers inside Bank of America Stadium now resides a cardboard sign bound together by scotch tape: “THIEVE AVENUE”.


“We’re going to get this thing corrected and be better because of this,” veteran safety Roman Harper said tongue in cheek in reference to the shabby sign that included a spelling error. “I went to Alabama and have a decent education.”

“Who’s the mayor?” Josh Norman joked. “We’ve got a hierarchy order going on. I would like to say I’m at the top but I’d be telling a lie.”

The best bet at who put the sign up is cornerback and special teams guru Teddy Williams. But the sign is certainly a reference to Carolina’s takeaway style of play that the secondary has exemplified all season long. The Panthers led the league with 39 takeaways this season including 24 by interception. Many of the fumbles forced could be attributed to a member of the secondary, Charles Tillman, and his popular ‘Peanut Punch’ technique.

“It all starts up front,” safety Kurt Coleman said. “The reason we have been successful on the back end is because of the guy’s up front. And when you get the opportunity, you have got to make the plays.”

Coleman made sure to remind Norman and his teammates that he led the team in interceptions with seven including a streak of five straight games with an interception.

This week, one of the hottest quarterbacks during the second half of the season, Russell Wilson, comes to town. Wilson threw for 24 touchdowns and also ran for one during the final seven games of the regular season. To compare that with Carolina’s Cam Newton — Newton had 20 passing touchdowns and four rushing scores in that same span.

One thing the Panthers are paying attention to is Wilson’s running ability. That extra element showed in Seattle’s 10-9 win over Minnesota when Wilson turned what looked to be a broken play after an errant snap into a 35-yard reception to Tyler Lockett to set up the team’s only touchdown of the game.

“He scrambled around and made that magical play that he seems to do all the time,” all-pro cornerback Josh Norman said. “He has that Brett Favre in him a good bit.”

The Panthers pass defense finished the season as the NFL’s eleventh best unit allowing 234.5 yards-per-game.

So, about the misspelled sign above the secondary locker — it won’t be up there for long. Kurt Coleman has an idea of where a portion of his playoff bonus will go to.

“We are going to put our money together and get something made,” Coleman laughed.