Good Friday morning, Carolina Panthers fans. A few weeks ago, I figured heading into the third preseason game we'd be talking about a big splash by the Panthers' offensive rookies. Through two games, the offensive rookies have gotten off to a slightly rocky start. In terms of the defensive rookies, Greg Hardy certainly impressed week one, but it sounds like fellow 6th-rounder Jordan Pugh may be the real surprise heading into week 3. Don't forget he's a 4.40 40 guy with a 40.5" vertical leap. There's no questions about his athletic ability, but the talk lately is all about his ability to adapt to NFL game speed. Here are your links for Friday August 27, 2010:
It's suprising to hear Fox praise a rookie like this in the preseason:
Panthers like rookie's football IQ. (CharlotteObserver.com)
Panthers coach John Fox said he's been impressed with how quickly Pugh has adapted. One of the qualities Fox falls for in players is the swagger that comes with understanding assignments, that "game isn't too big for them," confidence that not many rookies possess. It's something Pugh demonstrated early on. "He's adapted to things pretty quickly," Fox said. "He started last week against the Jets, and I thought he had a good performance. He's a guy that early on showed a pretty good innate ability to learn our systems and be able to do it under pressure. He's a good, young player, a guy that's had a good camp."
And here's what Beason had to say:
Rookie SS Jordan Pugh turning heads with his play and leadership ability. (CarolinaGrowl.com)
But what really struck Beason about Pugh was the 22-year-old’s maturity. "He seems like a savvy vet already," Beason said. "He’s smart and he kind of reminds me of (ex-Panthers safety) Chris Harris a little bit. I think he can be more vocal, but he's still a young guy so that’s understandable." So confident were the Panthers in Pugh’s ability they had making the calls for the secondary in his first NFL preseason game against Baltimore. And with starter Sherrod Martin out of the lineup last Saturday night, Pugh was thrust into a starting role at strong safety. He played most of the first half and was a member of the first-team defense that limited Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets to 45 yards (and only three first downs) on 33 plays.
More after the jump.
I agree that Fox isn't likely to stick around with 8 or less wins, and I also agree he won't be forced out of town:
Hot seat doesn't apply to Fox. (CharlotteObserver.com)
I don't know if Fox will coach the Carolina Panthers in 2011. I'll be surprised if he does. But if Fox goes, it's as likely to be his idea as it is the team's. Engines wear out, knees wear out and relationships wear out, too. The relationship between Fox and the Panthers probably is in danger of expiring.
His description of the injury is actually pretty gross:
Hamstring tear could cost Francisco a spot on Panthers' roster. (NFL.com)
The Hawaii native now can only hope he'll be fit to play in Carolina's final preseason game Sept. 2 at Pittsburgh. If not, the coaching staff will face a tough decision when final cuts come two days later, even though the 27-year-old Francisco has an impressive resume with the Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts. "Yeah, I'm a little concerned. I haven't been able to show the coaches what I can do," Francisco said. "Normally I can push through injuries and play through them, but it's my first time ever having a hamstring injury. It's the one thing you can't push, or it will just set you back even further."
Here's Pat's Thursday mailbag:
NFC South mailbag. (ESPN.com)
Joshua in Charlotte, N.C., writes: Good work for your rankings of the different positions. You've included a lot more players than I expected, including backups. My biggest complaint is putting both New Orleans corners at the top of the list. I know they had injury issues last year so they're not entirely to blame, but New Orleans was ranked towards the bottom of the league in pass defense - despite playing on an aggressive defense against one-dimensional offenses that had to pass to keep up with New Orleans’ offense. While I don't think Chris Gamble deserves to be at the top of the list, I'd move him up a notch to fourth and drop Tracy Porter to fifth. You mentioned sacks being an issue, but New Orleans had more sacks last year and performed worse than Carolina. Even with Julius Peppers, Carolina was in the bottom third in sacks and still fourth in pass defense. Gamble is a stud and deserves better.
Pat Yasinskas: Your points are taken, and everyone is entitled to an opinion. One of the purposes of this blog is to generate conversation, and judging by the number of comments on the cornerbacks post, we’re accomplishing that. My opinion, based largely on talking to coaches, front-office people and players is Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter clearly are the best two cornerbacks in the NFC South at the moment. Look at what the New Orleans defense did in the games when Porter and Greer were healthy. They were healthy early on and they were a huge part of the reason Darren Sharper was allowed to play center field and produce so many early interceptions. Sharper’s numbers dropped when they went out. Also, looking at where New Orleans ranked on pass defense (based on yards allowed) isn’t a fair way to judge Porter and Greer. A lot of those yards came when they were out. Even when they were in the lineup, a lot of teams were throwing constantly to keep up with the New Orleans offense, so the yardage totals were high. Bottom line: When healthy, Greer and Porter are a dynamic duo. They were healthy enough last season for the Saints to win the Super Bowl. As far as Gamble, I have the utmost respect for him and think he’s been a very good cornerback for a long time. Putting him at No. 5 was not a knock at Gamble at all. I debated going as high as No. 3 with him, but, projecting a little bit, and thinking about supporting casts, I also put Aqib Talib and Dunta Robinson in front of him.
This is actually a little funny to watch. Hopefully they go a little easier on Armanti now:
Can We Catch Punts Better Than Armanti? (WFNZ.com)
The Mac Attack went out to Charlotte Catholic High School to try and see if they could catch some punts better than Armanti Edwards could during the Jets preseason game. Watch the video to see how they did!
Not terribly informative, but shows that Beason will be on the field every down and will spend more time in the Mike than originally expected:
Strickly Panthers: Lineup at LB. (Panthers.com)
"More or less, I'm still the ‘Mike' in four out of the five packages," Beason said. "It's not that big of a transition." When the Panthers add a fifth defensive back for their nickel package, middle linebacker Dan Connor leaves the lineup, leaving Beason and James Anderson on the field. In the dime package, with six defensive backs, Beason is the lone linebacker.
I haven't heard much about this guy lately, but I'm still eager to see what he can do for us. It sounds like we'll find out Saturday:
Foxhole: Williams ready for action. (Panthers.com)
On how linebacker Jamar Williams has looked since returning from injury: Good. He's been gone for awhile, but we're trying to get him back up to speed. Hopefully, he'll take advantage of those opportunities. He showed us that he was capable early on. It's nobody's fault, but he's been nicked and not been able to practice or play and we've got two games left. On if Williams will get a chance to play with the first-team defense against the Titans: There's a possibility. He'll definitely get some playing time Saturday night.
These guys haven't ceased to impress me the past couple weeks:
Defense playing fast. (Panthers.com)
"Everything is going better. Things are not moving as fast," said Brown, a rookie in 2009. "I'm able to read formations better. I'm able to get a better pre-snap read, which allows me to play faster. "That's the key to my game – being able to play fast and run down the ball." Plus, for all the returning players on a Panthers defense that ranked eighth in the NFL in total yards allowed in 2009, it's their second year in defensive coordinator Ron Meeks' system. "Coach Meeks had that mentality coming in to play fast and create turnovers, and we rep it every single day. It's starting to show up on the field," linebacker Dan Connor said. "We've been practicing well, running around and trying to create turnovers."
My vote was for Kalil, but Beason probably makes more sense:
NFC South: Most indispensable players. (ESPN.com)
CAROLINA PANTHERS: JON BEASON Choosing Beason over Steve Smith is sort of like choosing Lofton over Turner. It wasn’t easy, but I’m doing it. My logic is that, even with no other proven receivers, the Panthers at least still could move the ball on offense with the running of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. If something happens to Beason, the defense is done. Beason’s moving from middle linebacker to the weak side because Thomas Davis is injured. Beason will make at least as many plays in his new spot. Bottom line on this one came when someone with another team asked, "Who do you have to worry about blocking on Carolina’s defense besides Beason?’’ The question was asked rhetorically.
Here's your hometown hero. I really like his enthusiasm at the end of the video - too bad more players aren't that excited to be on the field:
Video Gallery: Stand-up Guy (Panthers.com)
Rookie WR ready for action
I don't know about you, but I'm over these offseason rankings. I particularly don't agree with this one, but I figured it might be food for conversation;
Ranking the NFC South safeties. (ESPN.com)
#5 Sherrod Martin, Panthers. Here's another instance where I’m projecting a bit. Martin had three interceptions as a rookie and was part of the reason the Panthers felt comfortable trading Chris Harris. Like the rest of the Carolina defense, it will be interesting to see how he fares without Julius Peppers up front. #6 Charles Godfrey, Panthers. He’s produced two interceptions in two seasons. But the Panthers think enough of him that he’s in the starting lineup.
Fantasy Football Link of the Day:
The Panthers don't get much love in this PPR experts draft. It's a great resource to prepare yourself for your upcoming draft(s). I think I'd have been all over Stewart in the 4th round even in a PPR league:
Experts Mock Draft Results. (FFToolbox.com)
13 FantasyFootvallXtreme.com DeAngelo Williams RB CAR Contract year = big-time season for D-Will.