This edition of Paw Prints focuses on the feedback from the Panthers recently completed mini-camp. Mini-camp gave us our first look at the new faces on the roster, both rookie draft picks and the recent FA editions as it was a full roster camp.Let's go ahead and start with the guy creating most of the buzz, top pick QB Jimmy Clausen:
Rookie Clausen's fire impresses Panthers - Chicago Breaking Sports
"We said that's gutsy and arrogant at the same time -- and I think that might be a good thing in a quarterback," said Gross. "I remember when I was a rookie, I just had my head down and didn't look unless somebody was talking to me. It was such an intimidating situation to come into. "He's a guy who had a lot of press clear back in high school, so he's probably used to it a little more than I was or a lot of rookies might be.
Sounds like some of his team mates aren't exactly sure how to take this guy so far. Me personally, I'm liking the touch of arrogance (or it really confidence). Hey, they all agree he appears eager and open to listen and learn. That's all we can really ask for at this point. Yet for all the focus on the rookie and the pundits expecting him to win the starters job (not me), I was just as interested to hear how QB Matt Moore looked:
QB coach sizes up his 'eager' young squad - CharlotteObserver.com
"I see a guy playing with a lot of confidence. Matt has the right demeanor to be a quarterback in this league. You have to have a little bit of a Teflon mentality and let things roll off of you. Not that it's a nonchalance - it burns at him inside - but if you let it eat you up from inside out, you're going to be hurting."
I'm thinking Rip knows what he is talking about.
I can't decide whether I should be worried about our secondary depth even though I'm confident CB Richard Marshall will sign his RFA tender soon:
Observations on Carolina's camp - NFC South Blog - ESPN
I thought cornerback Captain Munnerlyn looked pretty good out there, running with the first-team defense. He was in there because starter Richard Marshall is looking for a long term contract and didn’t attend. Marshall could be trying to force a trade and I could see the Panthers doing something like that, in part because of the reasons we talked about in the first item. But Marshall, a restricted free agent, isn’t really dealing from a position of strength. Yes, the Panthers could definitely use him this year, let Munnerlyn develop as a nickelback for another season and groom some of their young guys for bigger roles. But Munnerlyn might not be that far away from being ready to be a starter.
In reality the only guy we lost from the secondary was dime back Dante Wesley so I'm not sure why I've been uneasy. Hearing this about Munnerlyn though helps tremendously...I love a good quote and here's one of the better ones I've heard recently:
Mick's Bag: New look Panthers
And if you start getting nervous wondering if these young pups will be up to the jobs that confront them, just remember the immortal words of hall of fame baseball executive Branch Rickey, who once told his Brooklyn Dodgers, "Gentlemen, I prefer the errors of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom."
Not to be outdone is our own team leader and master pontificator LB Jon Beason:
For rookies, the work ethic is the most important thing. We call it being a true professional. If you’re not a true professional from the start, it’s going to be a while until you develop as a player. Other players won’t trust that guy, the coaches won’t trust him, and if he doesn’t know what’s going on he can’t get on the field anyway.
You can't put a value on that kind of trust. I think this really explains why its taken so long for WR Dwayne Jarrett to get his chance to get on the field... More insight regarding the youth movement with a tad of humor from LT Jordan Gross:
COLUMN: Budget cuts have led to younger, faster Panthers | led, budget, panthers - Sports - The Star Online : The Newspaper of Cleveland County
"There’s good energy and some good competition," Gross said. "There are a lot more positives happening than if you just look at it on paper. Just because we didn’t sign any major free agents doesn’t mean the young talent we have isn’t any good. Everybody is playing fast. That’s what happens when everybody is 25."
We will have one of the youngest teams in the league next season but please don't tell me the Panthers are 'rebuilding'. I'm not buying it for one minute. This team can and will compete in spite of the youth movement.Here's some more insight, this time from ESPN's Pat Yasinkas:
Young Panthers are Fox's kind of team - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Sometimes having a room full of guys who buy into your system can be a lot better than having a few very talented, but very unhappy guys tearing you down.
Your preaching to the choir Pat...Let's get back to that youthful exuberance that seems to be percolating from the the guy creating all the buzz:
Jimmy Clausen brings expectations, emotion to Panthers - BostonHerald.com
"I think that’s how you have to play," said Clausen. "It’s an emotional game. Guys are trying to rip your head off every time you have the ball in your hand, so you can’t be passive. You’ve got to attack, just like they’re attacking you. "It’s a great game and I love the passion about it. ... I want to win every single play. I love it when we have big runs and guys make great blocks or a great catch on the field. That’s what I get excited about."
I really can't get enough if this right now...Let's not forget the other QB drafted as well. Though Tony Pike is more of a project he has tremendous potential as well.
NFL: First minicamps generate positive vibes for Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers - ESPN
Q: Jimmy Clausen wasn't the only quarterback the Panthers took in the draft. Tony Pike from Cincinnati was also picked by the Panthers. If Clausen doesn't do well in training camp, would he be in jeopardy of losing the No. 2 spot to Pike? Adam in Cincinnati
A: I doubt it, but it is possible. Brian Brohm was a second-round quarterback taken by the Packers and he ended up losing a backup chance to Matt Flynn. Gus Frerotte was a seventh-round choice in Washington and he looked better than Heath Shuler in his first training camp. Based on the minicamp over the weekend, Clausen didn't fall into the trap that caught Brohm and Shuler. Clausen looked better than Pike, which doesn't mean Pike won't have a great career. Matt Moore is currently No. 1, but I believe Clausen will win the starting job and Moore will be the backup. Pike should end up as the third quarterback. What's great for the Panthers is that they have three young quarterbacks and are much more talented at the position than they were a couple of weeks ago. It was a great draft for the Panthers.
I just don't have anything left to say about this...for now!