NFC South

A new beginning for Thieves Ave.

Donte Jackson. Photo by Keith Allison. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Back in 2015 the secondary for the Carolina Panthers called themselves Thieves Ave., after having 24 interceptions and six fumble recoveries.  That year the Panthers went on to Super Bowl 50.  Gone from that squad are Josh Norman, James Bradberry, Kurt Coleman, and Charles Tillman.  Tre Boston stuck around for the 2016 season before being waived in May of 2017.  After stints with the Chargers and Cardinals, Boston returned to Carolina last season, and this year is looking to lead and revive Thieves Ave.  He says Thieves Ave. has renewed their lease.  “Having an identity will help guys come to work every day, knowing that this is a brotherhood, and we got to hold each other accountable”, said Boston.  Establishing that Thieves identity will be crucial this season with all the newcomers in the secondary.

Tre thinks one advantage the secondary has this year is their speed across the board.  Another advantage is the versatility that the squad possesses.  Jeremy Chinn is a perfect example of that.  The second-round selection out of Southern Illinois has been described as a “postionless” player.  Even though the rookie is listed as a safety, he can lineup at linebacker or corner depending on the formation.  That can disrupt an offense seeing one guy lineup in multiple spots throughout the game.  Boston speaks highly of Chinn.  “He has the possibility of being the real deal. He’s done a good job of learning, he’s got a lot of stuff on his plate, but as long as he takes it one step at a time and understands that he doesn’t have to do anything but his job, we plan on making it easy for him and let him fly around.”

Thieves Ave. will have its share of rookies this season.  After the Panthers added Chinn, they selected cornerback Troy Pride Jr. out of Notre Dame, former WVU Mountaineer and XFL safety Kenny Robinson, and FIU cornerback Stanley Thomas-Oliver III.  Head Coach Matt Rhule has stated that those three are talented and can run, which goes back to the speed advantage that Boston referred to.  Chinn will most likely be the only one out of that group of draftees to contribute this season.  The others will most likely need a little more development or could see some time on special teams.

The Panthers are hoping to see Donte Jackson take a huge step this season.  After being slowed by injuries in 2019, to the point he was benched, he has something to prove.  His inconstancy is a concern but the longest-tenured cornerback on the team feels that if he can stay healthy, he can become one of the best corners in this league.
Boston will for sure lean on a few veterans to instill the Thieves way.  Although they’ll be new additions to the crew, former Saints cornerback Eli Apple and journeyman cornerback Juston Burris have that NFL experience that the rookies can benefit from.

Put all those pieces together and Thieves Ave. is looking to succeed.  Whether they can match the takeaways from 2015 remains to be seen, but Tre Boston wants us to know one thing, “We are Thieves and what to thieves do, they steal”


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