The senior member of the Panthers' secondary is the guy who's been around Charlotte the shortest time. But cornerback Drayton Florence has been in the NFL for 11 seasons, and the Panthers are betting that experience will benefit the team's young corners. Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who was in San Diego for a season with Florence, thinks Florence can still play, too. Florence has not played at the level of Chris Gamble, the man he essentially replaced. But he's not been a slouch, either. You don't start 99 games at corner in the NFL unless you have talent. Florence, 32, was starting for Detroit last season when he was injured in a Week 2 loss at San Francisco. Vernon Davis, the 49ers' 250-pound tight end, caught a short pass in the flat near the end of the first half, turned upfield and was met by the 6-foot, 193-pound Florence. Florence's forearm lost. Florence remained in the game, not realizing until later he had broken his arm. He was on injured reserve for eight weeks and ended up starting just three games, his fewest since his rookie season in San Diego. “My first major injury after 11 years in the league, so I wasn't too upset about it,” Florence said last week in a phone interview from his offseason home in Jacksonville, Fla. “Those types of things happen. Unfortunately, it just happened so early in the season.” Florence, a second-round pick out of Tuskegee in 2003, does not have a history of missing games with nagging, soft-tissue injuries. He started 45 of the 46 games he played in three seasons in Buffalo.
Panthers betting experience pays off with Drayton Florence
Charlotte Observer | May 4