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10 takeaways from Austin & Cooter

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter spoke to the media Thursday as they do every week during the regular season.

Here are 10 takeaways from those media sessions:

1. Detroit is tied with Baltimore for the NFL lead in takeaways, and Austin says his defense has earned every one of those turnovers.

"I don't take anything for a fluke," he said. "I won't ever qualify any turnover as it's something that they did. It's something we did. So, we'll keep going until something does change."

2. Carolina middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is one of the top middle linebackers in the game. He's strong, fast and can cover, but Cooter was impressed by Kuechly's mental approach to the game. He's one of the smartest linebackers in the game, and consistently will check and change the defense to coincide with any checks or changes taking part on offense. 

3. Anthony Zettel is having a terrific start to his second season (four sacks), and Austin says his transformation is a direct result of hard work in the offseason. Zettel improved his strength and balance in the offseason. Austin said Zettel won an offseason weight room award for his hard work in there. He said it's a clear example of hard work directly paying off on the field.

4. Cooter says he's still trying "to get to know" his entire offense – what they can do well and what they can't do well. He said it's pretty safe to say that who you are as an offense Week 4 or Week 5 is not always who you are Week 12, Week 13 or Week 14. He still building the entirety of the offense, and the offensive line is a big factor in that.

5. The Panthers are a physical football team that likes to establish the run, but Austin said they're a difficult team to pack the box with defenders against because of the "two trees" they have outside in Devin Funchess (6-4) and Kelvin Benjamin (6-5) at receiver.

6. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has just one interception in four games and one fumble. When asked about the maturation in that part of Stafford's game, Cooter said he thinks it's due to a higher level of comfort in the offense and having a greater understanding of where guys are going to be and when they are going to be there.

7. Austin thinks Tahir Whitehead really embraced the move from MIKE to WILL in the offseason, and is really playing some good football right now because of it.  

8. "Good plays and bad plays" were Cooter's first words when asked about the play of left tackle Greg Robinson, who continues to fill in for the injured Taylor Decker. Robinson has given up just 2.5 sacks in four games, but Pro Football Focus credits him with allowing 15 quarterback pressures, the fifth most in the league. Cooter said Robinson is showing some good things on tape, but wants him to continue to clean up some of the mistakes that show up.

9. Austin said surprised isn't the right word to describe his defense's play over the first month of the season. He said excited is a better word for it. His guys are building confidence, which carries over. He's hopeful that they're just scratching the surface of what they could potentially be. Right now, they're the No. 4 scoring defense in the NFL.

10. TJ Jones has continued to show that he can be a dependable third weapon among the receiving corps. Maybe the best compliment Cooter could have given Jones, when asked about him Thursday, was calling him "reliable."

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