Panthers WR LaFell Answers Call to Step Up

It was only two weeks into training camp when Panthers HC Ron Rivera stated he needed a WR besides Steve Smith to stand up. After that comment and then the subsequent loss of David Gettis caused concern in Panther land.

Said Rivera on Aug. 6th when the team signed Naanee: "Probably the biggest thing is we've had nobody step up other than Steve. We've got to find guys that are going to step up."

LaFell didn't just turn the other cheek:

"Yeah, of course I took it personally," LaFell said. "It was a week into camp. ... We hadn't really gotten a chance to figure out the offense. But it's a business. (Naanee) was their guy in San Diego, he knows all the routes. He's playing well. I can't get mad. Just when I get my chance, I need to make plays."

Well, I'm not going to say Naanee has played well but I will say LaFell has stepped up his game big time in response to the challenge. I'm not sure how LaFell got into the 'needs to step up' category to begin with I'm just glad he decided to respond. He has 8 receptions for 114 yards and a TD in two games with none being bigger than the 3rd and 22 conversion late in the Packers game. You have to love to hear Newton describe how the play was drawn up:
"Cam said, 'You just run down the field 15-20 yards and spot up, and I'm going to throw you a jump ball,' " LaFell said.

LaFell then demonstrated how to bring down both feet after catching a jump ball. In fact LaFell is showing quite the knack for body and feet control around the sideline. More after the jump...

LaFell explains is sudden rise to respectability:

"The game is starting to slow down for me now," LaFell said. "I'm reading defenses on the run now instead of just pre-snap reads. ... And then it's kind of easy when you've got those two tight ends out there making plays and (Steve Smith) is out there making plays."

Rivera stated that Naanee is still the starter but I think its only a matter of time before LaFell is the starter opposite Smith. Here's why:
  • He's a much better blocker than Naanee
  • He's got a knack for making those big catches
  • He knows how to get his feet down in bounds
  • HC Ron Rivera has noticed

When reminded of that quote Wednesday, Rivera said of LaFell: "Maybe we were a little impatient, to be honest. Maybe we wanted too much right away."

Wow...anyone else shocked that our HC actually said something like that? 'Maybe we wanted too much right away'? That is probably exactly right but I'm still so used to the evasiveness of the previous coach these type of comments still shock me.

Anyway, its nice to see a kid like LaFell up his game and make plays when the team needs them most. If I had my way he would already be the starter.


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