New Panthers STC Tracy Smith praises his unit’s toughness

New Carolina Panthers special teams coordinator Tracy Smith hasn’t been around his guys long, but he already knows what he’s got to work with.

Smith, while in the fourth day of the offseason workout program, spoke with reporters earlier this afternoon. He was asked how he thinks he can build around the core group of special teamers in his first season for Carolina.

“A really tough group,” Smith said in describing the players. “Physical, fast, tough group. Met ’em throughout this week. And guys that care about the game. I’ve known Johnny Hekker on and off for years and years. Had some nightmare plays against Johnny—like 2012-ish, or ’13. JJ [Jansen]—every year that I’ve been in, he’s been in. So have some relationship with those guys, also a little bit with Eddy [Piñeiro] as well.

“But this was not an underperforming group. This is a good group of guys. Expect them to keep their level of intensity and play the same. And the spirit from all of them has been great.”

Smith was hired back on Feb. 8. He comes in with 15 years of NFL experience—with stops for the Seattle Seahawks, the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers, the then-Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans.

Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire