Panther Paw Prints: Post Rookie Mini Camp Edition

May 12, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA Carolina Panthers wide receiver Joe Adams (15) and Josh Norman (24) stretch during the afternoon workout session at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

The mini camp has come and gone and as you would expect there were mostly positive results for the seven players the Panthers drafted. We've covered the major stories but here are some additional links for Panther or NFL related news & notes from around the interwebs:

Let's start with an interview with rookie DE Frank Alexander that is a good read but of course I'm highlighting the part that made me chuckle:

Alexander aims for new heights
"I was just standing by the speakers, and the next thing I know, somebody hit me in the head with a bottle," Alexander said. "That got my guard up, and before I knew it a big fight broke out and I ended up getting cut."

Now I'm not laughing because Frank got cut but because getting hit in the head with a bottle merely got his guard up. Maybe the hit dazed him but he might have considered exit stage left. I like a DE with a hard head!

This guy is wondering how the Panthers even knew he was:

Undrafted DT Nate Chandler puts his career with Carolina Panthers on the line | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper
"I didn’t have great numbers. My reps weren’t the same as other guys. And we didn’t have that great of a season, either," explained Chandler, who had 16 tackles in 14 games for the 6-8 Bruins. Chandler, 6-foot-4 and 294 pounds, isn’t certain how the Panthers discovered him, but thinks they heard good reports from the Bruins’ practices. He said he always went hard, even when his playing time was limited.

Here's a clue Nate, Rivera has deep roots in the West Coast. As soon as someone said 'He never stops till 5 sec after the whistle' Rivera got an automated text, kinda like a new version of the bat phone.

The 2nd part of this piece on Josh Norman has some nice quotes by Amini Silatolu and his acknowledgement the mental aspect has been tough so far:

Carolina Panthers rookie Josh Norman starts early, stays late | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper
"I still have some mental issues that I’ve got to fix with plays," Silatolu said. "I’m just like every other rookie – still trying to learn the system." Silatolu has gotten to know offensive line coaches John Matsko and Ray Brown well this weekend.

"They’ve been on me hard. But I need it because I need to keep working hard," he said. "It’s much different from college coming over here. It was much more laid-back in college where I was (one of) the best players, stronger. Out here everybody’s good. So I’m going to try to feed off everybody."

Yeah, just telling him to fo maul somebody doesn't cut it anymore.

After drafting Brad Nortman I really thought the Panthers would bring in one of the other rookies to compete but instead they brought in an 11 year veteran. That doesn't to appear to have shaken Nortman:

Carolina Panthers Brad Nortman punter is comfortable competing for job | Carolina Panthers | Rock Hill Herald Online
"It’s a competitive league. It’s rare that you go into a situation – any position – where they just give you a job," Nortman said. "It means more when you can earn it. And I’m excited to go out there and compete and try to earn it."

A punter that wants to earn his spot? Can he tackle like Baker? I kid I kid...

Moving on to non-rookie links, here's a few NFL related pieces, the first rather humorous. It's a list of common offseason lies or should we say 'half-truths' we get from teams, or as I would call it The John Fox Head Coaches Press Conference Handbook. This one is my favorite

Damned Lies: Your Guide To NFL Offseason Storylines - SBNation.com
"He was the player we wanted all along." Broncos president John Elway threw out that chestnut on Tuesday referring to the team's 2nd-round pick, defensive tackle Derek Wolfe. In this case, it might very well be true. Wolfe might have been there later in the draft. The Rams said the same thing about Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, their 2nd-round pick. That's probably a more tactful way of telling a million draft "experts" to stop complaining about the pick in 140-character increments. Heaven forbid that such a statement actually mean that a team panicked and pulled the trigger too soon, or that said player might even represent Plan B.

See, Fox told Elway what to say there. So Rivera doesn't seem to fit any of the examples given in that post but I couldn't help but look back and see if he had any of his own. This one seems like an example of a half-truth:

Rivera pleased with OTA results - Cat Scratch Reader
(Guard) Amini (Silatolu), he had a slow start, but today he looked like he was starting to get it and understand. So that was a huge plus.

So the truth is the guy is a little thick in the skull but he's a guard and he has plenty of time to learn. What I don't buy is he achieved enough the following day to make it now a 'huge plus'. Don't get me wrong, i love the kid and think he is going to rock it in time. Silatolu will have plenty of homework this offseason.

Let's talk fantasy! You might recall last year in like week 4 I traded RB ray Rice for our own Cam Newton in a straight up deal. Risky yes but the kid is my boy now, I had to have him. So he ends up 5th in points overall and in early drafting this season he's averaging around #19 overall, which to this guy is a little high?

The Sports Network - Fantasy Sports

Cam Newton, Carolina (ADP 19.8) - Newton finished fourth among quarterbacks in 2011 with 351 fantasy points, which would warrant such a high selection, but looking a little deeper into the numbers shows he threw for 2,393 yards in the first eight games at a 60.6 percent completion rate and 1,658 yards in the second half of the season at a 56.6 percent rate. I'm not saying he will collapse, but he's currently being selected ahead of Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick and both Peyton and Eli Manning. This might be too high for a quarterback who may have to target Brandon LaFell when Steve Smith gets double-teamed.

Seems that trifecta worked out pretty good last season fantasy-wise. Just because people are hedging on the Manning and Vick (for good reason) doesn't mean Newton is over-valued. I'll have him as my keeper without thinking twice.

Continuing the discussion of Cam, he continues to reward the Panthers for their faith to selection #1 overall by putting forth a tremendous effort in his first offseason:

Four 2011 first-round QBs face varied challenges entering Year 2 - NFL.com
"The offensive coaches evaluated all his strengths and weaknesses, the things he needs to do physically as a quarterback to get better," Rivera continued. "I can tell you, he's working it. You watch the individual periods he's doing, those techniques he's trying to improve, it's impressive. And he wants to learn more of this offense. We watch the amount we're teaching, because he's doing so much to get better. It's interesting watching. He's a bright kid, and he's constantly hungry for more, which is nice."

He's bright? But he only scored a 21 on the Wonderlic! While I agree he needs to work on his mechanics it hardly slowed him down last season. Obviously the whole 'He can't go through his progressions' knock was debunked by week 3 last season:

Young guns: Top 10 NFL players under the age of 25 - NFL.com
Do you remember when everyone was concerned about Cam Newton's play calls being too simple at Auburn? I'm pretty sure that didn't end up being much of a problem. All he did in his rookie season was throw for more than 4,000 yards and combine for 35 TDs. He proved that he was capable of staying in the pocket and making plays with his arm. He throws a beautiful deep ball and helped revitalize the career of Steve Smith. He's a very dangerous runner when he decides to leave the pocket, and he's built to take the extra pounding that results from it. He is capable of posting video game-like numbers. I wouldn't be shocked if he put together 30 passing TDs and 20 rushing TDs in the same season. How crazy would that be?

A 30-20 season by Newton would be wonderfully crazy!

No Panthers on this list and the #1 is the guy I would have picked:

NFL Roundtable: Which Draft Pick Is Most Likely To Bust? - SBNation.com
Poe played against lower competition in Conference USA, and he didn't dominate there, which is a concern heading into the NFL level. Defensive linemen often struggle early because the strength and size of NFL offensive linemen compared to college lineman is drastic. It also seems at least some of the success of defensive linemen in the NFL is based on motivation which, according to some draftniks, is an issue with Poe. Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs have a tall task to transition him into the NFL.

Bust with a capital B. Next up...Emphasis with a capital E:

Carolina Panthers’ special teams need to much more special in 2012 | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper
"What Marty did, going out and looking at certain free agents, one of the questions that he always wanted to ask was, ‘What can he do for us on special teams?’ " coach Ron Rivera said. "You look at some of the moves we made, bringing Kenny in from Minnesota. Bringing in Haruki from Baltimore. These are guys that have a (special teams) background. Then bringing in Michael Tolbert. "So you’re talking about three guys that have all played special teams that also do some things for you on regular downs. That showed that was an emphasis."

If we don't improve dramatically in 2012 I will be sorely surprised and disappointed.

Finally a quote from our leader on defense who acknowledges injuries are big part of the game and anytime a team goes a season with only a few significant injuries they should consider themselves 'lucky':

Rivera pleased with Panthers’ path | panthers, rivera, ron - News Source for Jacksonville, North Carolina - jdnews.com
"First off, you look at the team that won the Super Bowl, and a lot of times it has to do with luck. When you say luck it means in terms of guys staying healthy," Beason said. "We got hit with injuries fairly early in the season, and having to transition to a new coach and new schemes, we had a lot of stuff stacked up against us. But for the most part, I’m proud of what the guys who did step up and play for us did."

I expect more from the defense this season...Keep Pounding!

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