Several former Carolina defenders are rounding out stellar years in the NFL and rookies Zach Brown and Quinton Coples are doing so in their first year in the league. A week after logging two quarterback sacks on Monday Night Football, Brown led the Titans with nine tackles in a loss to the Packers. He leads Tennessee for the season with 89 stops, including 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Fellow first year Coples made three stops on Sunday, including 1.5 sacks and three hits on Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers. He now has 28 tackles and 5.5 sacks in his first year.
Complementing the rookies is veteran Julius Peppers, who made five unassisted tackles against the Cardinals, including three sacks and four total tackles for a loss. He also tallied two additional hits on the quarterback. The three sacks give him 11.5 for the year and 111.5 for his career.
Other former Tar Heels in action this weekend include:
Marvin Austin, NY Giants - Austin was active for the first time in several weeks and responded by contributing a solo tackle to the Giants' defensive effort. New York dropped the contest 33-14.
Connor Barth, Tampa Bay - The fifth year pro continues to be rock steady, knocking home field goal attempts of 29 and 49 yards. He is 25 of 30 on the year, with three of his five misses coming from at least 50 yards out.
Bruce Carter, Dallas - The Cowboys placed Carter on injured reserve for the season after an elbow injury he suffered on Thanksgiving. At the point of his injury, he led Dallas in tackles.
Shaun Draughn, Kansas City - The Chiefs ran for 352 yards against the Colts, and Draughn contributed four of those yards on one attempt. He has 210 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Vonnie Holliday, Arizona - Holliday lent a hand on one tackle on Sunday, bringing his season total to 13 stops. The Cardinals fell to the Bears 28-13.
Greg Little, Cleveland - Little hauled in his third touchdown of the season and fifth of his career on a six yard pass in the fourth quarter. He had six catches for 58 yards on the afternoon.
Michael McAdoo, Baltimore - The Ravens placed McAdoo on injured reserve for the season following Achilles surgery.
Hakeem Nicks, NY Giants - Nicks was targeted three times but failed to haul in a pass in the Giants' loss on Sunday. It was his first time being held without a catch this season.
Robert Quinn, St. Louis - Quinn made two stops along the defensive line and registered a hit on the Buccaneers quarterback. In his second year, Quinn has tallied a career and team high 9.5 sacks.
Garrett Reynolds, Atlanta - The Falcons placed Reynolds on injured reserve for the season with a lower back injury. Reynolds started the first six games of the season before getting hurt.
Jeff Saturday, Green Bay - Saturday's string of 202 consecutive starts in games he has played came to an end on Sunday, as he was replaced along the offensive line by third-year man Evan Dietrich-Smith. The Packers beat the Titans 55-7.
Da'Norris Searcy, Buffalo - Searcy defended a pass from his safety spot in the Bills 24-10 loss to the Dolphins. The second year pro has a career high 39 stops on the year.
Gerald Sensabaugh, Dallas - Sensabaugh made five tackles against the Saints, four of which were unassisted. He also defended a pass in the Cowboys' 34-31 overtime loss.
Brandon Tate, Cincinnati - The return ace failed to log a kickoff return in the contest, but did make one reception for 23 yards. The Bengals' victory puts them in the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
Ryan Taylor, Green Bay - Taylor made his first reception of the season, hauling in an 11-yard strike from quarterback Aaron Rodgers on his only target. He also contributed a tackle on special teams.
Cam Thomas, San Diego - Thomas continues to round into form late in the season, making three more stops on Sunday, two of which were solo stops and one that went for a loss. He has 17 tackles on the season, including eight in his last three games.
Greg Warren, Pittsburgh - The veteran long snapper helped the Steelers average 45 yards on seven punts. He also tallied his second tackle on of the year.
Johnny White, Green Bay - The Packers placed White on injured reserve for the year with a concussion. White logged eight carries for 34 yards this season between Green Bay and Buffalo.
TJ Yates, Houston - Yates saw time in the Texans' 23-6 loss to the Vikings, but his only pass attempt fell incomplete. On the year, he has completed four of 10 attempts for 38 yards.