There are several Panthers looking to put 2006 behind them for different reasons. In the case of Ken Lucas it was an injury plagued season in which many people, including teammates, questioned his toughness
"I even had teammates question if I had quit on the team," Lucas said Thursday. "That's just crazy for someone to suggest that. I love this game, and I would do this for free if I had to."
Lucas wouldn't identify the players, but said the criticism hurt.
"I would never fake an injury just because things are not going my way," he said.
The Panthers defensive backfield struggled at times last season. Lucas took the brunt of the criticism. This was another reason there was a perceived need to get Safety help in the draft.
"Unfortunately, it did affect my game from the mental aspect. There were a lot of times I knew I had to make a tackle, but my mind was telling me I didn't want to, because I knew it was going to hurt like hell to make this tackle. But we tried to fix that this off-season and hopefully it'll be much better this year."
The fact he mentions his shoulder hurt a little during the OTA’s worries me a little. Let’s hope Lucas can return to 2005 form. I think Richard Marshall is going to be a real good CB in this league, but I like having the depth at this critical position.
Mike Wahle is another Panther looking to put 2006 behind him because of injuries. He also shares the excitement of the zone-blocking scheme
"We’re all really excited about it," said Wahle. "We love what’s going on. We’re installing new things and everyone’s excited about the opportunities we have in front of us. It’s up to us to go out there and execute them." That is why you see Wahle and Gross staying late after "school." The prospect of using more zone blocking this season has many players excited, and coaches, too.
The Panthers running game suffered for a number of reasons last season, particularly in the red zone. Given the Falcons success using zone-blocking I’m all for it. I think the Panthers running game may take some teams by surprise early in the season. Let’s just hope the injury bug stays away. Regardless we seem to have a lot more depth this year which is always good.
Count DeAngelo Williams as another Panther excited about Jeff Davidson’s
"It’s exactly like the Memphis offense when I was running there"
I’m looking for DeAngelo to have a breakout season. The more successful the Panthers are running the ball the more dangerous it makes Steve Smith. We may not care who the 3rd receiver ends up being.
Finally, Kris Jenkins’ agent says it’s no big deal he’s not participating in OTA’s:
"He's just not in position to be there right now," Paige told AP. "He has kids and business to attend to in Maryland. It's not that big of a deal."
I’m not sure what to take of this. He did just make the Pro Bowl and so maybe he does deserve more money. I could also understand the view that 2006 was payback for his two previous seasons being lost to injuries. Personally I would like to see Jenkins back in the lineup this season, unless we could get a starting Safety for him. That’s about the only trade I would consider. Let’s hope Jenkins plays with a chip on his shoulder this year. We have to get better at stopping the run.