CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Herm Edwards always knew John Fox would be a coach. He wasn't too sure about himself.
When they played in the same secondary at San Diego State in the 1970s, Edwards was clearly the better player. But the cornerback also had a tendency to talk back to coaches, and became an Aztec only after twice transferring schools. Fox, meanwhile, played the role of coach on the field from his safety spot.
``He knew then he wasn't going to play pro football. So he was leaning that way,'' Edwards said. ``You could see where he was going to be a coach. And as soon as he got out, he went to some small schools and started coaching and worked up the chain. But for me, I was just glad someone would accept me to go to school. I was a renegade.''
matchup of former teammates and close friends.
``Herm was a very good player. Good guy, good player and good teammate,'' Fox said. ``I think he's done a fine job coaching.''
But the roles are reversed from college this week. While the Chiefs ended their 12-game losing streak with a stunning win over Denver last Sunday, Edwards is the clear underdog against Fox's Panthers, who are off to their best start since the 2003 Super Bowl season.
And Edwards sees a little bit of Fox the player in the physical Panthers, who have the eighth-ranked defense and held Atlanta to three field goals last week.
``He's a tough guy. He broke that facemask a bunch tackling guys,'' Edwards said. ``He was a tough football player.''
Edwards' reunion with Fox coincides with his first winning week in nearly a year. Edwards was dealing with a quarterback carousel, a disgruntled running back and a mistake-prone defense in their 0-3 start. But Larry Johnson couldn't complain about his role last Sunday, rushing for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries as the Chiefs stunned Denver 33-19.
hat and tried to get the ball to me as many times as possible for me to make plays.''
For the Panthers, it's another week of facing an elite running back. Last week, Carolina held the NFL's top rusher, Michael Turner, to 56 yards on 18 carries. The Panthers haven't allowed LaDainian Tomlinson, Matt Forte or Adrian Peterson to rush for 100 yards.
``It's just my fourth year, but I don't think I've had a stretch where I've gone through four outstanding backs like that back to back,' safety Chris Harris said. ``But it's the National Football League and they wouldn't be here if they weren't good.''
For Edwards to avoid a similar outcome to the first time he faced Fox in the NFL - Carolina crushed Edwards' New York Jets 30-3 in 2005 - his rookie cornerbacks will have to find a way to contain Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad.
Smith last week scored his first touchdown since the end of his two-game suspension for punching teammate Ken Lucas, and finished with six catches for 96 yards. Muhammad, re-signed by Carolina in the offseason to take pressure off Smith, had eight catches for 147 yards, including the decisive 36-yard touchdown grab early in the fourth quarter.
You can bet Jake Delhomme, coming off his best game since elbow surgery, will be looking for those two plenty as they go up against the inexperienced Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers.
Chiefs are depending on youngsters in Edwards' rebuilding project.
``It's been interesting with all these young guys. It's been a lot of fun, it really has,'' Edwards said. ``It's been a lot of work. I think our coaches have done a great of job making these guys understand how they have to play every week in pro football compared to college football.''
Speaking of college, Edwards couldn't resist suggesting Fox no longer looks like the safety who had decent speed in school.
``He ran OK. He was a little bit slimmer then than he is right now,'' Edwards said. ``He's a fullback right now. I'm going to get on him about that, too.''
Of course Fox has some ammunition, too. He just needs to dig up an old picture of Edwards and his Afro, or ask him how a guy who was constantly questioning authority is now the authority.
``When a coach asked a question, I asked him why we had to do it,'' Edwards recalled. ``Now, when I was in football, when it was yes or no, you never asked coach a question. I was one of those guys, probably a smart-aleck guy, had long hair. It kind of made me a free agent at the end of the day.''
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