The Panthers replaced former second-round pick Sherrod Martin with Haruki Nakamura at free safey because they grew tired of Martin giving up big plays.
Now that Nakamura is the culprit, they may switch back.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Martin will get more reps in practice this week, and left open the possibility of putting him back in the starting lineup, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.
Martin started the previous two years, but a string of mental errors last season put him in the doghouse, and had the Panthers elect the slow-and-steady route in Nakamura, who backed up Ed Reed in Baltimore.
“If we’re going to evaluate, we’re going to evaluate different combinations and what those possibilities can be I think when you go back and look at what happened in training camp, I didn’t think Sherrod did a bad job,” Rivera said. “And we’ve got obviously until Sunday to make a decision on what we’re going to do.”
Nakamura lacks Martin’s range or ball skills, and the Falcons exploited him several times. Nakamura had one interception in the end zone, but was targeted multiple times in the Falcons game alone.
“He had a tough day obviously on a couple plays,” Rivera said. “But he also made a couple plays – a big interception down in the red zone and a big knockaway down in the red zone, a couple of nice tackles coming up. We’ve got to evaluate all situations and circumstances, not just one position.”
Nakamura wasn’t the only reason the Panthers blew their late lead, but he was the most visible, and hasn’t played so well leading up to this one to have been immune from being replaced.