Panthers LB Luke Kuechly Impressed by Titans, Walker



NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly didn't hesitate when asked what stood out in practices against the Titans offense this week.

"Delanie Walker,'' Kuechly said. "I think Delanie is good. I think he is really good. He is a freak, really. He has all the route tree. You can line him up inside, on the outside, and he is a guy who makes quarterbacks comfortable. We have a guy like Greg (Olsen) who can do the same thing, and to see Greg and then go see a guy like Delanie, it helps you as a linebacker to be able to sit back and work on pass coverage against those guys. It's great to work against a guy like that."

Kuechly has been one of the game's most dominant defensive players since entering the league in 2012. He's a four-time Pro Bowler who was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in his first season, and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.

This week he's spent two days on the practice field with the Titans, and Walker, a two-time Pro Bowler.

Walker said he has mutual respect for Kuechly, and fellow Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.

"Very smart player, and athletic," Walker said of Kuechly. "I had a route on him (Wednesday) and I thought I was going to sell it. He smelled it out. I think he is probably one of the best linebackers in the game. It's strange, at the end of the day he was like, 'Yo, how you ran that route, (the defense is) never going to call it.' You like to hear that from guys like that, to see what they're thinking. For him to coach me up on stuff like that, it goes a long way. So I respect him a whole lot.

"Going against Kuechly and Davis, both of those dudes will make you better because of the way they play the game. They're very smart, very physical and they play to the whistle. To go against guys like that, it's a great look. I have to give it to both of them. I think they're both top-notch linebackers in the league."

The Titans face the Panthers in their second preseason game on Saturday at Nissan Stadium.

After working against the Titans at Saint Thomas Sports Park, Kuechly said he's been impressed with the Titans offense, from Walker to quarterback Marcus Mariota and beyond.

"He's smart, and he understands the game," Kuechly said of Mariota. "He understands what he needs to do to be successful and put his team in a position to be successful. And it's fun to see these young guys come up and grow and understand defenses. I think he is going to do a great job this year."

As for Tennessee's offense, a group that worked without first-round pick Corey Davis both days and without veteran receiver Eric Decker on Thursday, Kuechly said it's a talented group.

"The way they are built, they are big up front,'' Kuechly said. "They have a really talented quarterback, big tight ends, they have fullbacks and they have two studs at running back in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. When you get those guys going with a one-two punch, that's pretty good."

The Titans practice against the Carolina Panthers on Day 20 of the team's training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones Photography, Gary Glenn)

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