Of the 18 penalties called on the Green Bay Packers during Sunday's 17-3 loss to the Detroit Lions, cornerback Ahmad Carroll committed four by himself.
Some of the referee's calls may have been dubious, but the miscues led Carroll to insist on a heart-to-heart meeting with head coach Mike Sherman on Monday. During the morning chat, the second-year cornerback apologized for his four penalties.
"I wanted to let him know that it wasn't falling on deaf ears about the penalties I was getting, Carroll said. "He made it clear that we can't have anyone out there getting penalties. That's going to hurt the team."
Sherman, who considered benching Carroll during Sunday's game, will announce the starters on Wednesday. The former first-round draft pick knows he will have to avoid those penalties to keep his job.
The play of Joey Thomas has intensified the competition. The starting cornerback headed into training camp, he was sidelined by calf and hip injuries for three weeks of practice. As the nickel cornerback, he played effectively, registering two tackles and two passes defended against the Lions.
Thomas hopes his effort on Sunday earned him a starting role.
"Who wouldn't want to be the number one guy?" Thomas said. "Regardless of what my role is, I'm going to make the most of it."
Carroll committed 11 accepted penalties last year and has earned a reputation because of that history. He and Sherman acknowledged that opposing coaches likely tell the referees before the game to watch Carroll closely.
"They're aware of it," Sherman said.
Although Sherman said there is no excuse for the number of penalties Carroll racked up, he deemed some of the calls as questionable.
"They were ticky tack," he said. "I see Al Harris do the same things and not get called. I see him [Carroll] do the things and get called."
Carroll must tread a fine line. The new Packers defense calls for aggressive corners to jam receivers off the line and impede their progress. Carroll will have to avoid holding receivers while remaining physical.
"We play bump and run," he said. "If I go out there and say -- 'I can't touch him. I can't do this.' -- I'm not going to get the job done."
Despite the penalties, Carroll said the coaching staff gave him a strong grade for the game. He held Lions wide receiver Charles Rogers to one catch for 31 yards.
"Besides the penalties I had a very good game against a very good receiver," he said.
The coaching staff worked tirelessly with Carroll during the offseason to improve his footwork and teach him to use his hands less.
Carroll did cite the lack of pass interference penalties, the kind which plagued him last year, as a silver lining. Sunday's infractions against Carroll included one holding penalty and three illegal use of the hands.
"It's something easy to clean up," he said.
But as Sherman let him know, Carroll better clean it up and fast.