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Panthers like upgrade on D

Associated Press
The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 04:42 AM

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The Carolina Panthers set out to improve their defense in the NFL draft, and general manager Marty Hurney is optimistic they've accomplished that goal.

But he acknowledged you can never be sure.

Hurney says he and coach Ron Rivera really like what happened over the course of the three-day draft but "you really don't know until two or three years down the road."

The Panthers selected linebacker Luke Kuechly from Boston College in the first round, defensive end Frank Alexander from Oklahoma in the fourth, cornerback Josh Norman from Coastal Carolina in the fifth and safety D.J. Campbell from Cal in the seventh in hopes of shoring up a defense that ranked 28th in the league a year ago.

In Hurney's eyes, the big key for the Panthers was landing Alexander in the fourth round.

"I think really the fourth round and having that fall into place was probably the key," Hurney said. "I think we felt like that kind of spurred the rest of the draft. We feel good. We feel like we helped our defense."

BRONCOS: Peyton Manning felt right at home with Todd Helton and the Rockies.

Manning dropped by Coors Field on Sunday morning to visit his pal before the Rockies played the New York Mets.

Manning and Helton were quarterbacks at the University of Tennessee in the mid-1990s. Manning recently signed with the Denver Broncos to become their new QB.

When Manning was going through his rehabilitation from neck surgery during the NFL lockout, Helton helped arrange for him to use the Rockies' facilities to work out.

JETS: Tim Tebow might be Mark Sanchez's backup in New York, but he has bragging rights on the Jets' starting quarterback.

Tebow was recently voted by current players as No. 95 on NFL Network's list of the league's top 100 players. Sanchez, however, didn't make the cut.

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