Finally the off season is over as tonight the first game of the 2008 regular season begins with the Washington Redskins heading to the meadowlands to take on the defending Superbowl champ, the NY Giants. Will they repeat? Many doubt it, but you know what, I don't really care. What I do care about is our Carolina Panthers and what we have accomplished over the off season. Many "experts" have little faith in our team this year, but you know what, that's they way I like it. Few thought highly of the Panthers in 2003 and look where they ended up. If, or rather when Carolina makes the playoffs that is where the Panthers thrive. Each time we have made the postseason, we've advanced to the NFC Championship game.
Last year was definitely a disappointment and Carolina puts a lot of that on the lack of leadership at the QB position, which I won't argue. With that ugliness behind us however, what have the Panthers done this offseason to warrant our enthusiasm. Lets take a look at some of the key transactions.
12/26/2008 - Aquired Rhyns Lloyd (K) from waivers - This has proven to be a great pickup. I love John Kasey (K), but the short field position has been a problem. (Also on that note, I would love for Kasey, the last original Panther, to receive a Superbowl Ring. Wouldn't it be exciting if we make it and Kasey has to kick a game winning field goal.)
02/04/2008 - Jake Delhomme, Dante Wesley, Curtis Deloatch, Keary Colbert, Nate Salley, Brett Basanez Taken, Stephen Williams, Justin Hartwig, Julius Peppers, Nick Goings, Terrence Melton are finally taken off the IR list. - While not everyone is back, it goes to show at the end of the season what shape we were in.
Arguably the biggest one was Jake Delhomme
02/11/2008 - Cut Mike Wahle (G) - The beginning of the purge.
02/12/2008 - Dan Morgan (LB) taken off IR and also cut - We hate to see such a good player go, but he hadn't played a full season since we drafted him. Plus with all the concussions he had, he was risking way to much.
02/21/2008 - Cut DeShaun Foster (RB) - The purge continues.
Foster had underperformed since he arrived.
Franchised Jordan Gross (LT) - While a contract would have been better, we are glad to have him back.
02/28/2008 - Cut David Carr (QB) - I'll admit I liked this pickup the year before and thought we had a good backup. Turned out to be one of the worst moves in franchise history. Was it his fault? Was it all the sacks he had indured while playing for the Texans? Don't know. He was indecisive, held the ball way to long, and didn't have the team behind him. You knew it was bad when Coach Fox didn't let him suit up at a home game.
02/29/2008 - Vinny Testaverde, Mike Rucker, Dante Wesley , Gary Gibson, Keary Colbert, Curtis Deloatch, Terrence Melton, Drew Carter, Kindal Moorehead, Deke Cooper, Marquand Manuel, Christian Fauria, Donte' Curry all declared as free agent.
We will miss some of them, such as Vinny (Thank you for the effort), but other not so much. We were happy to see Keary Colbert and Drew Carter part ways. Better luck somewhere else, yeah that's it.
03/01/2008 - Signed Ricardo Colclough (CB) - Since once again we struggled with the return game, Richardo had a chance to make the team at least in that regards. Umm, it doesn't help to be arrested the night before team cuts. Buh-bye.
Kris Jenkins (DT) Traded to Jets - While he played well with Carolina, the team and staff didn't see eye-2-eye and was a good trade for team chemistry.
03/03/2008 - Keydrick Vincent (G) - Now the starter at Right Guard
03/07/2008 - Signed Landon Johnson (LB) - Great find and addition to the team. While he may not be a starter, the competition at the linebacker positions has been fierce and that can only make the group better. If Na'il Diggs was injured I would be fine with Landon Johnson stepping up.
03/11/2008 - Justin Hartwig (C) cut - Others I know won't agree, but this was one player I would have liked to keep. But Ryan Kalili played well during preseason and Justin would not have like the backup roll. I believe the Coaching staff played this well and cut ties with Hartwig to allow him to sign as a potential starter on another team.
03/17/2008 - Signed D.J. Hackett (WR) -At the time was a great pickup as well. However, once again he hasn't shaken off the injury bug. If he can stay healthy he's a great addition to our receiving corp. We've been struggling for several years to improve in this area.
03/20/2008 - Terrence Holt (S) signed - Thought it was a solid pickup but ultimately the "upside" from the younger players beat him out.
04/22/2008 - Mike Rucker (DE) retired - With Jenkins and Rucker no longer with the team, questions begin about our defensive line. We will see if this is actually a weak spot during the season, but in the preseason they seem to do pretty well.
04/26/2008 - 04/27/2008 - Draft
- 1st Round - Jonthan Stewart (RB) - Our future featured running back? Well, since Stew was signed it has made DeAngelo Williams play that much better. This could possiblty be the best 1-2 combo in the league.
- 1st Round - Jeff Otah (RT) - Did we give up to much trading up with this pick? So far his play has warrented getting better this year.
- 3rd Round - Charles Godfrey (CB) - Immediately moved to safety and should be starting week one. This makes three quite possible starters in three picks (Stewart has shown starter ability, but with two good back Williams will get the nod having been around longer)
- 3rd Round - Don Conner (LB) - While he isn't starting this so far he has been solid. During the preseason he was filing in as MLB for Beason when the first team was off the field.
- 5th Round - Gary Barnidge (TE) - He may be 3rd on the depth chart but he has shown the ablities to play the position.
- 6th Round - Nick Hayden (DT) - Finally address the DT position but a little to late in the draft to find an immediate starter. However, he is on the practice squad and after a year or two we can make a judgment.
- 7th Round - Hilee Taylor (LB) - Did play DE in college, but some are saying he would be a better fit at LB, however he is now on the Panthers as Pepper's backup. There's that upside again
- 7th Round - Geoff Schwartz (OL) - Like Hayden show it had it for this year but made the practice squad.
- 7th Round - Mackenzy Bernadeau (G) - He's last on the depth chart but he's on the team.
All of the draft picks this year are either on the team or practice squad. This could be our best draft ever.
07/26/2008 - All the draft picks signed, just in time for camp. Jonthan Steward's came down to hours before training camp opened.
08/02/2008 - Steve Smith (WR) is suspended for two game for punching Ken Lucas. Lucas receives broken nose and has to sit out the rest of camp. However, the bright side is that apparently it has brought the team close together. (But don't do it again Steve)
08/25/2008 - Jason Carter (WR) - injuired his knee and is placed on IR. Ironically he was actived from the practice squad during last season when Keary Colbert was placed on IR for a knee injuiry.
08/28/2008 - Ryne Robinson (WR) - Injuries knee, probably not ready for week 1. The injuiry to the Robinson puts pressure on the staff to find a replacement. With Jason Carter and DJ Hacket being injured as well, the Panther only have 2 receivers for opening day at this point.
08/29/2008 - Traded for Josh McCown (QB) from Jets - Proven providential as 5 days later our backup QB Matt Moore breaks his leg (out 3-4 weeks).
09/01/2008 - Sign Mark Jones (WR) for punt returns - After the failed experiment with Samie Parker (WR), Mark should fill the role while Ryne Robinson heals.
09/03/2008 - D.J. Hackett (WR) returns to practice - This is welcome news after all the issues we have at the WR position.
09/07/2008 - Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Charges
There you have it, most of the key transactions during the off season. What does all of this mean? Basically a lot has changed on the team from last year to this year and hopefully the changes mean the difference between an average team and a great team.
Hope you enjoyed the history review. Here's to a great season.