Panthers Paw Prints: Defense a Bright Spot

Panthers Paw Prints

Good Monday afternoon, Carolina Panthers fans. I would have had this post up earlier in the day, but we didn't want to saturate the front page with posts. I know it's been talked about a few times, but wow our defense looked solid. I was seriously impressed by their play against the Titans (as mentioned in earlier posts today). Also, trying to look at the bright side of all the 3 and outs, Jason Baker looked really good. I know punters rarely get any love, so I included a link about him below.

The CSR fantasy draft was last evening, and the opening rosters will be included in an upcoming post. All I can say is, wow, the fantasy IQ of the participants really impressed me. My biggest take-away (besides my newfound nightmares about koalas with lasers) is that everyone seems like a legitimate contender at this point. I already feel like an underdog and the season hasn't even started. Here are your links for Monday August 30, 2010:

I really hope so:

Is this young Panthers D for real? (CarolinaGrowl.com)
"It’s not that I’m surprised because we see it in practice," cornerback Richard Marshall said of the team’s defense. "We have guys that are fast, guys that run around and guys that play with good technique. So to me it’s not a surprise. For the public it might be a surprise because a lot of people are probably thinking, wow, we didn’t know they had this." Added linebacker Jon Beason: "I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but I would say I’m happy with the way we’ve played." And why not?

More praise for the Panthers' D:

Panthers’ defense a preseason smash hit. (CharlotteObserver.com)
"I think we're having fun – any time you're dominating it's always fun," Beason said. "The good thing about it is, guys are not getting tired of being great. Every play is a new opportunity for guys to go out and keep proving why they belong. "It's a lot of competition like it's been all camp, and I'm really liking what's going on so far." The Panthers have to like it, especially because they couldn't have honestly expected it.

More after the jump.

I figured I'd lead off with this after the jump if for no other reason than it makes me smile when I watch it. Check out our boy at #1:

NFL Videos: Pre Week 3: Top 5 Catches. (NFL.com)
Catch the best leaping grabs, one-hand catches and all the fancy footwork from the third week of preseason

Here are some in-depth observations on individual players through three preseason games:

Notebook: Panthers mix things up on defense. (CharlotteObserver.com)
Observations: Everette Brown's looking more and more like a legitimate every down lineman. After his two-sack outburst last week, he added a sack-strip early against Titans quarterback Vince Young. If he can play well, that trade that parlayed this year's first- and second-round picks into him, quarterback Jimmy Clausen and running back Mike Goodson won't be chastised the way it was a year ago. Quarterback Matt Moore had his moments in the two-minute situation, and that's fine. But there are 56 other minutes a game that should still be a concern.

Pat Yasinskas: Be encouraged by Carolina’s defensive performance so far. But, remember, it’s only the preseason. The offense? Same deal, but flip it around. The offense hasn’t looked good, but it’s not like the Panthers are game planning like they will in the regular season. They’re just testing some things out. Even more significant, the Panthers have been playing without Smith, Jonathan Stewart and Jeff Otah. I think the presence of those guys in the regular season automatically make the offense a lot better than it’s been in the preseason.

Hopefully this will squash (and put into perspective) all the buzz and rumors about the Panthers picking up a veteran receiver:

Make sure upgrade actually is one. (HeraldOnline.com)
With Sunday's news that wide receivers Laveranues Coles (Jets) and Antonio Bryant (Bengals) were released yesterday, my twitter (@daringantt) practically exploded. "Will the Panthers sign Bryant?" "Why not Coles?" "With the team needing receiver help, which one will they sign?" The correct answer, you better hope, is neither.

We saw plenty of Jason Baker this weekend and I must say I was seriously impressed. (There's several other players in the article too):

Panthers Stock Watch. (CharlotteObserver.com)
P Jason Baker: He got a good roll on his 76-yarder (which would be a team record during the regular season), but the cannon-shot only underlined the fact he’s had a good summer. That the Panthers acquired him for Todd Sauerbrun makes him one of the true heists in franchise history.

Which team will show up week 1? Anyone's guess:

We just won't know about the Panthers offense until Sept. 12 arrives. (CarolinaGrowl.com)
Will the Panthers look like the well-oiled machine that put up 41 points at the Meadowlands last December or will they look like the broken-down clunker they’ve appeared to be in the preseason? The reality is we won’t know. Perhaps Smith’s return will ignite the passing game. Perhaps his mere presence will bring the best out in potential No. 2 receivers Brandon LaFell, Dwayne Jarrett, Kenny Moore and Wallace Wright. One thing is for certain – the Panthers have spent a good portion of the preseason working on their passing game, almost to the point where they’ve ignored the run.

I love to hear this guy (Scott Fowler) get dogged on WFNZ, but this is a decent article:

Panthers hiding from awful truth. (CharlotteObserver.com)
Carolina’s offense, as usual, had little to say. That offense has produced exactly zero TDs in three exhibitions. It has had 14 possessions in each of those games, which means it rests in an 0-for-42 TD slump. That’s more than bad. That’s awful. And yet the Panthers publicly critique themselves so gently it’s as if they are talking to their own grandmother, trying to find something good to say about the totally inappropriate dress she’s about to wear to a wedding.

A trio of videos from Panthers.com:

Videos: Panthers 15, Titans 7. (Panthers.com)
Highlights from Carolina's third preseason game.

Videos: John Fox Postgame. (Panthers.com)
Team improves in all three phases.

Videos: Dan Connor Postgame. (Panthers.com)
Defense has fun, answers challenge.

All you Trent Guy fans will love this:

Strickly Panthers: Guy gets chance. (Panthers.com)
Guy misjudged two of the first three punts that came his way but didn't create turnovers. Later, he took off on a nifty 14-yard punt return (negated by a penalty well away from his return), and he opened the second half with a 37-yard kickoff return. "I kind of struggled early on judging the ball, but I bounced back from that with a pretty good return where my teammates got some great blocks," Guy said. "Then kickoff-return wise, I came out in the second half and got a pretty good return on that. Guys got some good blocks on that and we got positive yardage.

More ESPN defensive positional rankings... Johnson definitely looked the part vs. Tennessee:

Ranking the NFC South defensive ends. (ESPN.com)
3. Charles Johnson, Panthers. I’m projecting here, but somebody has to step up on Carolina’s defensive line now that Julius Peppers is gone. You’ve heard some preseason hype about some young Carolina pass rushers and we’ll get to them. But Johnson is the guy the Panthers believe is ready to be their most complete defensive end.

6. Greg Hardy, Panthers. This guy’s been getting tons of preseason hype and some fans are comparing him to Peppers. That’s a stretch. But I’ve been told by the Panthers and people who’ve been watching Hardy from a distance that this guy’s for real -- as long as he can keep focused on football.

7. Tyler Brayton, Panthers. We’ll twist a common phrase from coach John Fox and say Brayton is what he is. That’s a pretty solid all-around defensive end. In a lot of ways, he’s a lot like New Orleans’ Brown.

10. Everette Brown, Panthers. Carolina drafted Brown last year thinking he might be the eventual replacement for Peppers and that still could happen. The Panthers believe Brown has lots of upside, but his development has not been rapid.

This seems like rhetoric, but there is some good info if you read through the whole post:

Massive Monday morning mailbag. (ESPN.com)
Robbie in Murphy, NC writes: Is this Carolina defense for real? They have registered 18 sacks in three preseason games. The defense was supposed to be our Achilles heel but now it's looking like our strong point. How concerned should we be with the offense?

Pat Yasinskas: Be encouraged by Carolina’s defensive performance so far. But, remember, it’s only the preseason. The offense? Same deal, but flip it around. The offense hasn’t looked good, but it’s not like the Panthers are game planning like they will in the regular season. They’re just testing some things out. Even more significant, the Panthers have been playing without Smith, Jonathan Stewart and Jeff Otah. I think the presence of those guys in the regular season automatically make the offense a lot better than it’s been in the preseason.

Tweet of the day:

It looked to me like he was about to take that one to the house before they blew it dead:

Don't see the spot for him ... (Darin Gantt via Twitter)
Don't see the spot for him. RT @JAKE_OB You think Witherspoon will make the roster? He's looked better the any CB outside of the 1st 3.

Fantasy Football Link of the Day:

I would agree that he's a sleeper depending on where you draft him:

2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers. (FFToolbox.com)
Matt Moore QB CAR Moore took over for an injured Jake Delhomme over the final five games of last season and was sensational on his way to a 4-1 record, which included a pair of three-touchdown outings against the Vikings and Giants. Moore completed 85 of 138 passes for 1,053 yards with eight touchdowns and only two interceptions last season.

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