This is my first post on CSR, so I'll start with a brief background. I was born and raised in NC, so that meant I was a Redskins fan. Sure, I could've pulled for Dallas or Pittsburgh like lots of native North Carolinians did pre-Panthers, but in the words of the (in)famous John Fox "It is what it is."
I never considered myself a fair-weather fan, but as it turned out, maybe my blood didn't run as deep as some because when Daniel Snider signed DEION SANDERS to play for the 'Skins I was forced to jump ship. Or, who knows, maybe that means my Redskins blood DID run deep. Remember the days of the old NFC East? If you were a Skins fan, it was a law... you had to hate Dallas, Philadelphia, and the NY Giants. No exceptions. I saw it as a travesty that DEION SANDERS, of all people, was wearing the red and gold. My personal all-time most hated Dallas Cowboy. So that was the end of that chapter.
That being said, naturally I became a Panthers fan from day one. I've been around since the days of Frank Reich, What-his-name Biakabatuka, Eric Davis, Kevin Greene, Rae Carruth...so I'd like to think I've earned my right to call myself a fan and speak freely about my beloved Panthers.
So... my background established... am I a hopeless pessimist, or do I have legitimate reason to be worried about our Panthers 2012 season? I'm worried about the offensive line. Travelle Wharton will be missed. I can't fault the Big Cat and MH for releasing him, it was a salary cap move, it was business, it freed up much of the cap space we've needed this offseason. That's all finewellandgood, but Bruce Campbell likely won't replace him. Wharton was a longtime Panther, he worked well with Kalil and Gross, and we didn't have to worry about a left guard. Now I'm worried about not only his spot, but the entire O-line. Gross is getting up there in age, I don't expect Jeff Otah to ever return to his 2008 form, we've had a revolving door on the right side with no one really making a lasting impact, and Kalil can't do it all on his own. But I have to admit, at least we don't have Turnstile to scream at on Sundays.
Something tells me we'll miss Wharton a great deal. Do I have reason to worry? And naturally I'm worried about the defense. Duh. We all are. Not only do we have a few guys coming back from injuries, we've got a couple guys trying to come back from "he may never play again" injuries. Beason with a torn achilles. That's a bad one. Davis with his 37th ACL tear in the last 3 years, trying to become the first player to ever return after 3 ACL surgeries on the same knee. Think about that...the first player EVER to do what he's trying to do. As much as I've always liked TD, I don't want to count on it happening. We've never even seen Ron Edwards in uniform, but I'm really not worried about him. I think he'll be ready for OTAs, I think he'll be 100% and I think he'll be a big boost to the D-line. But I'm still worried. I'm worried about kicking the ball.
I don't want to beat Mare into the dirt any more than he's already been, but we know he sucks. We want him gone, but we also want someone better. Better than our current $4 million/year kicker. Oh, and by the way, we need a punter too. And now to try and answer my own question, maybe I'm not a hopeless pessimist. I'm not worried about Cam. I'm not worried about running the ball because if I was, you'd all drive me off CSR quicker than I could say Deshaun Foster. I'm not even worried about WRs (yet) because I believe Smitty has 2 solid years left to perform at a high level, Lafell will continue to improve, Pilares will see the field on offense in 2012, Gettis will return and be solid, and we'll get a chance to see what Gary Barnidge can do for us. We'll score points. We'll score a LOT of points. We'll score more points than we did last year. But I'm still worried...am I alone?