Cam Newton and Brandon LaFell are a pairing the Panthers are comfortable exploring more. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Last night Steve Reed reported on the Carolina Panthers' receiver situation, offering some much needed insight to how Ron Rivera views the position. Perhaps the most interesting element to Reed's report is the juxtaposition of Coach Rivera's confidence in Brandon LaFell, and his trepidation in David Gettis.
Ron Rivera views Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell as his starting receivers. The Panthers' coach is anxious to see who steps up to claim the No. 3 spot. Rivera hopes it will be David Gettis.
Speculation can end, and we can lock these guys in - Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell will be your starting wide receivers for the 2012 Carolina Panthers. It's a move that's hard to argue with; Smith was of course amazing all year long, and LaFell shone in limited time as a starter. Making huge strides from his rookie season, LaFell showed better hands, more reliable route running, and a renewed willingness in down-field blocking in his second season.
The role possessed by David Gettis is up in the air. Deductive reasoning has many fans believing Gettis is a future #1 receiver- after all, he looked solid in 2010 with Jimmy Clausen throwing him the ball. The truth is, he's still unproven- and even moreso now as he recovers from his ACL injury.
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‘Hoping' someone can be a #3 receiver is hardly a vote of confidence, especially from a coach like Rivera who's willing to make snap, gut decisions on personnel. After all, he named Greg Hardy starting DE last year, and had Byron Bell taking 1st team RT snaps during OTAs. To completely remove Gettis from the starting WR discussion is noteworthy, and now he will need to battle a cadre of players to win the slot role.
"Brandon is going to do the things he did last year, so we need to find that guy who can come in and be that other threat, once we establish who that other guy is it's going to help our offense. I think David is well on his way right now as long as he continues to work on it and regain that confidence"
Obviously Gettis has the inside track. He's far and away the most talented receiver on the roster after Smith and LaFell, but being the favorite is still a far cry from being ‘the guy'. One thing Rivera has stressed during his time in Carolina is a steadfast requirement to hard work; it cost Everette Brown his spot, caused Duke Robinson to be cut, and Mike Goodson to be traded. In his rookie season David Gettis (along with the other receivers) were publicly called out by Steve Smith for a lack of work, as he made a near desperate plea for someone to step up and prove they wanted the job. It's speculation to assume any player is lazy, but like Rivera said whoever is the guy will need to ‘work on it'.
We'll keep an eye of the receiver battle here on CSR, and we'll get a much better sense of how the depth chart is shaking out in Spartanburg.