After three sessions I figured it was about time to share my thoughts on what I've seen (or at least attempt to share). However, first I want to address something I saw on the Observer's blog today; an exchange in the comments section highlighting the updates I was giving. While I realize the comments appeared to be made in good spirit I wanted to add my thoughts to the subject.
I appreciate the support and we do want readers here at CSR, my intention is not to show-up the reports on the ground but only to share the simple observations I've seen. I am not an expert on the game of football, just an armchair GM like anybody else out there. Darin and others are professional and do a great job of covering the team we hold so dear, heck I'm pretty sure my grammar will be all over the place. Second I don't pretend to be a sports journalist keeping track of every play and taking details notes so later I can post intelligent thoughts about what I saw. There's a lot that goes into being a reporter and I'm sure the thoughts I'm going to provide won't compare. I have a lot of respect for Darin's coverage and the hard work he goes through on providing us fans with updates. The reality of is CSR links to his work ALL the time and while we do provide our own thoughts and opinions we also rely on the Observer and others to provide some of our content. In fact that is exactly what the Panther Paw Print posts are all about, informing the CSR community of what others are saying. Finally, it's dam hard reporting and watching them practice at the same time and after trying my best today have even more respect for what Darin and the other reporters do. I was trying my best to provide CSR with names and numbers of what I was watching. I've gone to several years of training camps but this the first I've shared my thoughts and observations with others. I even admitted in the Day 2 post that I wasn't able to keep up with the defensive and offensive lines, there was just too much for me to take in. So with that said, I will encourage everyone to keep track of what Darin Gantt, Steve Reed, and others in their position have to say as they get inside stories, the up close accounts, and the access we all wish we could have. Then come to us to fill in the gaps. We try to provide the stats and outside commentary to enhance the coverage you get from other sources. We will not pretend to be the one stop shop for Panthers coverage; we just ask that you keep coming back.
Now, onto my thoughts. I didn't write anything down so all of this is from memory. I apologize if it's all over the place.
Dwayne Jarrett will be on the team, no questions asked. I don't know where on the depth chart but he will be on the final roster. I was thinking about this during the 7 on 7 drills realizing what little experienced depth we have at WR. While I now know most of the players names and numbers, I realize how much of a struggle it was to get there. Many of the fans around me keep wondering who this and that player was. Despite the hard time we give Jarrett (well deserved as it is) besides Smith he's been with the team the longest. He's really is a veteran as much as we don't view him that way. Hopefully even if he doesn't get it this year he can help those around him do so. Yet, It has to be hard on him as all the other receivers know they are vying for his spot and he doesn't have it looked up. You would think this would motivated him but not everyone responds to pressure the same way. Time will tell.
Steve Smith, on the other hand, seemed to be working out the whole time. Out of all the players on the PUP list, you would look over at them and you would be hard pressed to see him not doing something. As another fan pointed out (actually our very own Deuceklinco) as we talked on the sidelines, it's hard to wonder why all pro-athletes don't take their jobs as seriously. Yes Smith is an ultimate competitor but most players have very little time to prove themselves on the field. Here's a life lesson to learn, it's not always about the money. You can't through money at a problem and make it go away. The person has to want to do something about it.
As little depth as we have at WR, we have plenty of depth at TE. We have three capable guys that fit very nicely into the team chemistry. As Darin posted this afternoon:
Maybe we're taking our eye off the ball, rather than worry about WRs, just throw to the TEs. They're better.
There very well could be a lot of truth to that. Three experienced players, all have been with the team a few years. Yes we have pointed out their specialties, but in the end they all have been used to catch down field as well. It will be very interesting to see just how much they will be used but I do know one thing, it seriously felt all 4 QB where finding them consistently during team drills.
Unlike earlier this offseason when I wrote that the 4th string TE, Jamie Petroski, wasn't likely to make the roster, that after watching them all practice and working the autograph line, I really feel bad making those blanket statements, even if they are very likely scenarios. They are out there busting their butts to help this team get better and they have to know their chances are slim but they still work hard. I'm happy to say that my son does have Jamie Petroski's signature on his football and even if he doesn't make it the team, we will proudly display his name as a member of the Carolina Panthers football team.
I really didn't pay much attention to what the running backs where doing outside of team drills. Although I guess since we know the depth chart is pretty much set, that anything other than team drills doesn't provide much insight. I do intended to pay more attention to the defensive line over the next few practices and hopefully get a better understanding of how the running backs are fairing against them. From today it does appear that DeAngelo Williams was his usual self, but I would also add that with the D's limit on contact, I'm thinking he might have looked a little better than he actually performed. With Stewart and Sutton out today, we did see a more of Mike Goodson, Tony Fieametta, and training camp bodies Josh Vaughan (#40), and RB Rashawn Jackson (#38). Goodson did look improved. While he did drop a ball once, he reminded me why we were so high on him after last years draft. If, and that is a big if, if he can put the fumbling troubles behind him, he can definitely be a nice addition to the RB group. He'll stick around as one of those promise guys we just hope matures before his rookie contract runs out. He's quick and elusive once he gets into the open field and would be a great change of pace back. Again, if practice Goodson shows up as game day Goodson then he will be fun to watch.
Matt Moore is the starter, I have no question about that. He looked confident and generally played well. All the talk about Jimmy Clausen pushing him should pretty much stop. I know its early but I just don't seem it happening this year. However, I not sure about the 2nd string QB. They have Hunter Cantwell and Clausen switching between 2nd and 3rd string. I can note that during warmups that Clausen is lined up with the 3rd string players, so at this point I have to assume that's where he is on the depth chart.
On a personal note to Clausen, I know that skipping over the adults during autograph time and signing kids is common, but as the new guy with your rep, I don't advise you do that to often. I'm not bitter that you skipped over me and I was more excited to that Matt Moore signed my football, it just doesn't come off well with the fans. Next year I'd let it slide, but this year, if you are going to stop at all, work the whole crowd, you haven't earned the right to be selective. Also, I do think he's trying to put the rept he has behind him. He was very nice to the crowd in general and the first thing he did was shake a little boys hand before signing.
On the other hand, as Jordan Gross walked down the line and I thanked him for signing he said (and I paraphrase) "No problem, I know what it's like being on the other side." That really made me feel happy to know that while these guys work hard (and that's an understatement) most appreciate us as fans and are happy to give back.
Another player I was greatly impressed with during autograph time was Jon Beason. While I'm sure he's not always the last one inside, he was today. I left after he signed my football, but I have a feeling he didn't leave until he was either forced to leaved by the coaches or until he signed everyone in line. He was saying out long after the final, final, final horn blew. After someone thanked him he said something about the next thing was "ONLY food, shower, and meetings." I then asked him how long they go in the evenings to which he replied around 10 pm. I then followed up with when do you start to which he answered "7 am, it's a job." I kindly added, "it's more than a job." I have a very high respect for these players. All we see typically are the 3-4 hour games on Sundays but they put in so much more.
Anyway, its getting late and I'm going to have an early morning tomorrow. I know there's more I could add but it's not all coming back to me at the moment. I will not be at the 9 am practice as I'm spending the majority of the day with my family. There's a chance I'll make it to the evening 6:30 pm practice and as usual if I do I'll do my best to provide what updates I can.