There is no other Panther player that divides Panther fans more than WR Armanti Edwards. Being a local kid he has the support of the numerous App St fans. The fact the Panthers traded away what ended up being the #33 draft pick to attain him last year no other rookie is more under the microscope. Riding the pine most of the 2010 season only kindled the fire of the haters while galvanizing the 'give him time' chorus from the homers. If you've been wondering if new Panther HC Ron Rivera is aware of the situation with Edwards, we have an answer:
"I thought we were going to have a conversation but apparently we had a speech because I did all the talking," says Rivera. "But what a nice young man. He (his ability) is dynamic, and we've got to find a way to get him involved."
Adds Rivera: "That's true for every player on the roster. We have to find roles for everybody. Nobody is a backup. They're part of what we do."
"Rod Chudzinski (Carolina's new offensive coordinator) was in Cleveland when they had (Joshua) Cribbs," says Rivera. "I'd like to see similar things with Armanti."
I think we all agree seeing a Cribbs-like performance from Edwards is just what the Panther ordered. Securing the punt return job would be a nice start. I have no problem with CB Captain Munnerlyn handling punts but the fact is Edwards has the talent to be even better. He's better in the open field with similar or more speed. I just think Edwards has learn the NFL between the ears and work on his toughness. He's not a big guy and he didn't face a lot of NFL-size talent. But now with a year under his belt that's not a factor. He just needs to handle the fact he's always got 200-250 lbs dudes taking shots at him on every play.
So how do you turn around a 2-14 team Rivera style?
"Not just these two guys," he says. "But to reenergize and refocus the team. I know they're frustrated. I've been through it as a player and coach and I understand. It doesn't mean I'm a better coach than anybody. But it gives me a different perspective."
How do you reenergize and refocus?
"Win or lose, bad or good, you create something to strive for," Rivera says.
Defensive line: "I look at Charles Johnson and see a guy that's starting to come into his own. I'm excited about Greg Hardy. The guy that really intrigues me is Ed Johnson. â€¦ We have to find a (defensive tackle) that can command a double-team."
Defensive backs: "Talented and young but took a little step back from past seasons. I watched Gamble work out at Ohio State. I've got to get him reenergized. I went to Fresno State and worked (Richard) Marshall out. I like the young safeties, (Charles) Godfrey and (Sherrod) Martin. I like the way Captain Munnerlyn and (Robert) McClain played."
Quarterback: "We need to find if we have that franchise quarterback." If they don't, River says they have to draft him or hire him.
Offensive line: "Not far from being a solid unit again. Key players will return from injury. I think (Jeff) Otah and (Travelle) Wharton are terrific."
Tight end: "We don't have a great player but we have a group of solid and fundamentally sound players."
Wide receiver: "This group looks to be young but has playmaking potential and a very experienced playmaker in No. 89 (Smith)."
Running back: "The backfield has three quality running backs that are similar in ability but have their own styles."