Panthers Notebook: DC Ejiro Evero Talks Up LB Yetur Gross-Matos’ Big Plays, Detroit Lions’ Deception, D’Shawn Jamison’s Compete Level

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With the offense stalling out during the second half of last Sunday’s 21-13 loss to the visiting Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers linebacker Yetur Gross-Matos attempted to spark what is now the NFL’s lone winless team.

Gross-Matos sacked Kirk Cousins and was credited with a key pressure. The backfield disruption forced the Vikings quarterback into throwing a tipped interception, which fell into the arms of linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill.

But the Panthers’ offense failed to capitalize on the second-half sudden change.

When Gross-Matos sacked Cousins early in the third quarter, it led to a punt two plays later. The Panthers led, 13-7. Bryce Young directed a drive to the Vikings’ 28-yard line, but a sack/fumble led to the Vikings’ D.J. Wonnum returning the turnover 51 yards for what proved to be the go-ahead touchdown.

After barely playing in the season-opener, Gross-Matos’ snap count continued to increase the past three games. He projects to play a big role in Sunday’s game at the Detroit Lions (3-1). The underdog Panthers are 0-4.

Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero has been impressed with the fourth-year defender’s development. In the new base 3-4 formation, the Penn State product is adjusting to playing on the edge, along with patrolling the middle.

“I just think he’s been committed since day one,” Evero said during Thursday’s press conference. “It’s been about his work, playing on the edge, playing inside. He knew he was going to have multiple roles to do that in and he’s been committed to being better. I know that he’s doing that in every phase of his life. In the classroom, on the field obviously. I’ve just seen a great commitment from the man from day one to be the best version of himself and now you’ve seen the fruits of that labor.”

Panthers DC Ejiro Evero Anticipates Lions Deception

The North Division-leading Lions enter Sunday ranked No. 8 in scoring offense, putting up 26.5 points per game. They are averaging 249.8 passing yards per game and 136.5 yards rushing per outing.

Evero explained the balanced production stems from the Lions’ offensive line play. He was asked what makes the unit so effective.

“Well, first of all, there’s a lot of run-action,” Evero said. “And so, they’re running the ball, they’re running the ball, and then it’s run-action to throw the ball with a lot of protection, so that makes it difficult. And they have good players.

“They’ve done a really good job as a team in all phases of their offense, so it’s going to be a great challenge.”

Undrafted Rookie D’Shawn Jamison Provides Highlight

Racing down the Bank of America Stadium sidelines, rookie cornerback D’Shawn Jamison trailed Sam Franklin Jr., who intercepted Cousins on the 1-yard line. En route to a Panthers-record 99-yard interception return for a touchdown, Franklin had everyone beat, sans Cousins and wide receiver K.J. Osborn.

No problem.

Jamison eventually caught up and laid out both skill position players with pancake blocks; Cousins near the 25-yard line and Osborn at the goal line. The two reserves created one of the NFL’s top Week 4 highlights.

Jamison was on the field because starter Donte Jackson suffered a shoulder injury. Evero said the rookie from Texas took advantage of his opportunity.

“He’s very competitive,” Evero said. “From the day he got here in his scout team reps, on special teams, he’s been competing. You always want to look for that trait in a corner and guys that aren’t shy of the moment. He’s got really good speed. He’s learning the game, and he’s going to continue to get better in terms of just understanding NFL football.”

With Jackson listed as questionable for Sunday, Jamison again could be a key reserve.

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