Panthers DT Edwards looks at chances for 16-0
The Panthers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 33-14 on Thanksgiving to improve to 11-0. Carolina finishes the season with two games against Atlanta and one each against New Orleans, the New York Giants and Tampa Bay.
''The way our team is playing it's going to take us to not play well on a Sunday for a team to beat us,'' Edwards said.
Edwards said this year's team is more complete than the Carolina squad that went 12-4 in 2013 and won the NFC South, only to lose at home in the playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers.
''We don't have any bickering as far as `We're an offensive team, we're a defensive team... or the `offense is not doing this,''' Edwards said. ''... We had a little of that early in 2013. This year we are not concerned what is going on on offense. We are going to try to play the game how we have to. I think that is a big difference.''
Edwards added about the undercurrent of tension in 2013 between the offense and defense: ''It's normal when one side is dominating and the other side is not doing as well.''
This year, the Panthers are more balanced.
Carolina's offense is second in the NFL in scoring and the defense is fifth in fewest points allowed entering the weekend.
WATCH THE SCALE: Tennessee interim coach Mike Mularkey didn't tell his Titans of his plans to keep an eye on just how much they ate on Thanksgiving. He just called on right guard Chance Warmack, easily considered the team's biggest eater, saying if the lineman had stayed around the same weight as before Thanksgiving there would be a cash bonus.
Warmack said he had, so Mularkey called him down to collect.
''He came down like Rocky, `I've won,''' Mularkey said. ''I said, `I've got to double check it.' And when I pulled the scale out of the closet, the clothes started coming off. Just stripped down to nothing to make sure, and he made it, so he got his bonus.
''It was good. It was good humor. They needed that.''
Mularkey wouldn't disclose the mark Warmack needed to beat to collect, and only said he was proud of the lineman listed at 323 pounds. Warmack said he was 3 pounds under his limit and weighed in at 326 Friday.
The 10th pick overall in 2013 out of Alabama, became well known in college for ''Warmacking'' - showing off his belly. Teammates joked as Warmack wrapped up practice Thursday that the guard would stop at a chicken restaurant on his way home to Thanksgiving dinner.
Warmack said Mularkey threw him off by pulling out the scale, which prompted him to strip down to his tights. But Warmack stashed the cash in his backpack, with plans to spend his prize after practice.
''I'm never going to forget this Thanksgiving,'' Warmack said. ''I got $50.''
TOUGH PUNTER: A penalty on a punter won praise from Miami Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell.
''We probably have the toughest punter in the league,'' Campbell said.
Matt Darr was flagged for unnecessary roughness last Sunday when he hit Dallas punt returner Lucky Whitehead out of bounds at the end of an 18-yard runback. Darr's penalty was costly, because the Cowboys went on to score.
''It hurt us,'' Campbell said. ''But maybe we should find another position for him to play as well as punter.''
The 220-pound Darr said he felt bad about the penalty, but wasn't expecting a flag for hitting Whitehead. ''He kind of lowered his shoulder into me, and I just kind of hung on. Instincts kicked in, trying to protect yourself,'' Darr said.
DECKER'S DOGS: Eric Decker has combined his love for dogs and his appreciation for the U.S. military to give a hand to veterans in need.
The New York Jets wide receiver and his wife, country music artist Jessie James, started Deckers Dogs a few years ago while he was playing for the Broncos in Denver to help fund the rescue, care and training of service dogs for military veterans returning home with disabilities.
Deckers Dogs is the primary initiative of the Eric and Jessie Decker Foundation and directly supports Freedom Service Dogs of America, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization.
''It's just so rewarding to just do a little bit,'' Eric Decker said, ''and give some normalcy to these veterans who have sacrificed so much and been through a very traumatic experience.''
Through their foundation and uSTADIUM, a social app geared toward football fans, the Deckers are hosting a fundraiser called ''Bowling for Barks'' on Dec. 7 at Frames Bowling Lounge in New York to raise money and awareness for Deckers Dogs.
Eric Decker said it typically costs about $25,000 to get a shelter dog and train, feed and care for it through Freedom Service Dogs. The service dogs help provide a support system for wounded veterans who might be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other pain and mobility issues.
The Deckers have been able to fund seven service dogs so far, and have met with the veterans who have benefited from their efforts.
''The stories they tell us and the letters we get with the thank yous of not only how it impacted them personally, but their immediate family and friends that surround them, it's just great,'' Eric Decker said. ''I think you forget about how easy it is for us to go to the mall or the grocery store or do things that are pretty routine, but they aren't routine for them. They're really difficult for them at times.''
The Deckers hope to be able to steadily increase the number of dogs they can fund through their foundation
''I think where we're at in our society with things going on around our world with ISIS and all the scary stuff, we are fortunate enough to go to work every day and not feel threatened,'' Eric Decker said, ''because I feel we have the protection from those that are serving our country every day. That's the reason why we give back, because we're so thankful for them.''
TALL TALE: Brock Osweiler acknowledges he's not 6-foot-8 like he's listed.
''I'm just a hair or two over 6-7,'' the Denver Broncos quarterback told The Associated Press. ''That comes from my basketball days, where they said, `You're a hair over 6-7? OK, we'll round up. You're 6-8. In basketball, they like to add inches to your height.''
Osweiler was a gym rat growing up in Kalispell, Montana, and originally committed to Gonzaga to play basketball before changing his mind and heading to Arizona State to play football.
''Yeah, I'm 6-7. I've tried getting it changed in all the programs,'' Osweiler said. ''At the combine, they knew I was 6-7. They pushed me down at the NFL combine. They said you're just a hair over 6-7.''
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Teresa M. Walker and Arnie Stapleton, and Sports Writers Steven Wine, Steve Reed and Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this notebook.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL