Dirk Koetter Gives Injury Updates on David and Evans, Says Humphries is Steady

Head coach Dirk Koetter spoke to the media on Wednesday of Week 13.

(On how wide receiver Adam Humphries has improved)

“I think Adam is one of the steadiest and most consistent players on our team. The whole (touch down) thing, four games in a row – I guess the thing that he’s doing is really running after the catch. His runs – that was a beautiful cut back on his score last week. I guess that’s maybe the punt returner in him. It looked like they had the angle on him then he cut it back against the grain. Just a real steady player that is on a team where there’s guys that get more targets than him. He’s kind of always in position and rarely makes a mistake.”

(On if defensive tackle Vita Vea played his best game against the 49ers)

“Yes, definitely.”

(On if Vea played well because he is healthy)

“Well, I’m not sure exactly why. He’s healthier than he’s been and he’s playing more, but easily the most production that he’s had.”

(On the reason the defense has come together)

“Hard to say because we’ve had a lot of injuries on top of that. We’ve been missing some really good players. I think one thing they’re doing a good job of is I think they’re doing a good job of mixing it up, of doing some different things and showing some different looks, especially on third down. We’ve added a much bigger dime package than we had before. Partly that was out of necessity. When Lavonte [David] and Kwon [Alexander] are healthy, we don’t like to take them off the field, but we’ve sort of been forced to because of the injury situation. The third down is probably the biggest thing because we’ve actually – teams have run the ball a little bit better on us the last few weeks. If they’re running it, but you’re still stopping them on third down you’re still getting off the field. That’s the main thing.”

(On what he’s seen from the defensive line)

“I think everything starts with JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and [Carl] Nassib – the two ends. I think those two, from a disruption standpoint. Gerald [McCoy] is still a handful when he gets singled inside. Teams haven’t been able to focus quite as much on Gerald, but I think the penetration of Carl and just the overall doggedness of JPP – that he just won’t quit – I think that’s pushed the entire group to bigger heights.”

(On if he thinks the league should extend the gameday active roster)

“I’d be for it, but I’d be willing to bet they won’t ask my opinion.”

(On if wide receiver DeSean Jackson went to a hand specialist and if his hand was re-injured against the 49ers)

“I’m not sure about the re-injury. He saw a hand specialist here in Tampa and the way I understand it, they sent the results to some kind of a specialist in New York as well. I don’t know if it was reinjured. I don’t know about that.”

(On having linebacker Lavonte David back on the practice field)

“The first thing he said to me is that I need to tell the trainers that he didn’t need to wear the knee brace and I said that probably something for you to tell them, not me. It was great having him back out there today. Lavonte’s one of the most respected payers on our team – a team captain. Any time – we got Lavonte back today, we got Justin Evans back somewhat today. That’s a big boost to everyone’s moral out there.”

(On why there were a lot of nickel and dime schemes on defense)

“The 49ers actually left the fullback on the field more than any team we’ll play. You saw 44 (Kyle Juszezyk) for them was out there. We would’ve played even more substituted defense had they not been in 21 personnel as much as they were. We had the lead in the game and we got them behind the chains a little bit so they kind of had to throw. I’m sure their game plan was to stay ahead of the chains and keep us in base defense with the inexperience at linebacker. When we could stop their run game on first or second down or when they had to throw and couldn’t complete it – we got them behind the chains and we were able to get our sub, our nickel and our dime out there.”

(On what his shoes for Sunday’s ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ game means to him)

“I’m wearing shoes that support the [National Multiple Sclerosis Society]. That something that’s close to my family. My mother and my sister have M.S. and that’s what I’ll be wearing on Sunday.”

(On how much of a challenge Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s run game is going to be)

“It’s a big problem. Any high school or college coach can tell you about when they add that 11th man in there, you’ve got to defend all 11 instead of just defending 10. Normally the defense has a one-man advantage and that’s unusual in the NFL because most teams don’t want to run their quarterback. I think you’re seeing more and more zone read, especially in the low red zone this year, from a lot of teams. We’ve done it ourselves. Carolina’s way, way more advanced running the ball and Cam’s really good at it. That’s probably why they’re third in the league in rushing. He’s set numerous quarterback records for rushing, so it makes it tough. Then [Christian] McCaffery’s playing well and they’ve added a lot of speed on the outside. Oh, by the way, they’ve got [Greg] Olsen at tight end too. They’ve got it rolling offense right now. They’re tough to stop.”

(On Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly)

“Really good – one of the best. Their linebacking corps in general and their front seven in general – top notch. They’re tough upfront and Kuechly’s the quarterback of that group – excellent communicator, really good tackler, very instinctive. Wish he wasn’t in our division, but he is.”

(On the Panthers safeties)

“[Eric] Reid and [Mike] Adams – they have two really experienced safeties, so they’ve seen a lot and they’ve just played a lot of football. They don’t panic. Carolina does a lot on defense. They move around a lot. Going back to Kuechly, because of your shifts in motions, they’ll adjust. They’re one of the few defenses that will flip their blitzes based on your protection calls. They’ve got us on that over the years multiple times and we’ve had to change a lot of what we do because of that. We’ve got the better of it sometimes and they have sometimes. Those two safeties – I think it was perceived maybe on the outside that safety was a weak-link in that defense, but by adding those experienced safeties, I think they’ve definitely bolstered that position.” 

(On if running back Ronald Jones could develop into a player like McCaffrey or Saints running back Alvin Kamara)

“It’s possible. Yeah, it’s possible. The league kind of went away from that not so much because – well I think first of all both of those guys are special talents even though Kamara was a third-round pick, if we redrafted today, trust me he wouldn’t be making it to the third round. I think the thing that’s most amazing to me about both of those guys is their durability – the hits they take. That’s really why teams went to the two and three back rotations because backs were just getting pounded. The shelf life of the running backs that were carrying it. When we had Maurice Jones Drew in Jacksonville, I saw it first hand with Maurice with Steven Jackson at the end, with Michael Turner at the end, those guys took a pounding. We’re talking about these guys in their second year, but they’re playing great. I think McCaffrey 96 percent of the snaps last week and 240 all-purpose yards – that’s phenomenal.”

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