Greetings Panther Nation! The start of the 2012 season is nearly upon us as the Panthers square off against the Houston Texans tonight at 7:00 at Bank of America Stadium. Before we get into all the pre-game festivities, here are a few Paw Prints for you to sink your teeth into.
The first Paw Print for you today is an article from SI.com on a subject that many of us are already familiar with - the Panthers desperate need to generate a pass rush.
Applying pressure to the quarterback is an area Rivera has a keen interest in heading into his second season with Carolina.
The Panthers (No. 20 in AP Pro 32) managed just 31 sacks last season, and Rivera said getting pressure on the quarterback is "something we have to get better at,'' especially playing in a highly competitive division that includes quarterbacks Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman.
Hopefully CJ95 is able to step up his game this season, and hopefully we're able to see the emergence of The Kraken, giving us a pair of bookends at DE we haven't seen since the 2003 "Nasty Boys" defensive line when Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker gave opposing QB's nightmares every week.
(Note: I don't know if anyone else ever called the 2003 D-Line the "Nasty Boys", but I do, and if no one else did then I'm going to re-write history and say that I made that name up back in 2003.)
Follow me after the jump for a few more Paw Prints...
This next Paw Print touches on a subject that is close to my heart. As a Gamecock fan I can't help but hope against all hope that Eric Norwood manages to find his way on the 53 at the end of Pre-Season, but even I have to question what his role would be if he were to make it. Apparently, he's expecting to have a breakout season this year for the Panthers:
"I've learned a lot," he said. "I've learned how to apply things, how to use my speed the right way, how to use my power and how to rush with other guys next to me. It wasn't super comprehensive to learn. You've just got to be able to put it all together."
Again, I don't know how he's going to fit into the long-term plans as far as the 53 man roster is concerned, but if used properly (i.e. - situational pass rusher) I think he could be an effective rotational player for the Panthers.
Our next Paw Print touches on a subject that's seen plenty of intense debate here at CSR. The Charlotte Observer talks about how DeAngelo Williams has adjusted from being the primary running back at Memphis to sharing the load in Carolina, and not surprisingly - DeAngelo is perfectly fine with a backfield by committee.
It took Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams a while to warm up to Rob Chudzinski’s offense last season.
...after putting major mileage on his legs at Memphis, Williams has grown accustomed to sharing the ball with the Panthers. First it was DeShaun Foster, then Jonathan Stewart, now Mike Tolbert – not to mention quarterback Cam Newton.
"I’ve gotten used to it. It’s a team game," Williams said this week after a training camp practice. "There’s only one football on the field..."
I'm sure many of you will agree, but I hope Marty Hurney can find a way to keep Stewart and Williams together for the next 5 years, because I think we're only seeing the beginning of what these two guys can do in our new offense.
Our final Paw Print of the day is a primer for tonight's opening Pre-Season game against the Texans. While we already knew that the starters wouldn't play a lot of the game tonight, there are a few guys who won't play at all, including MLB Jon Beason:
Last year, Cam Newton didn’t get under center in the first preseason game until the second quarter.
There’s no doubt who the starter will be Saturday night against the Houston Texans, but don’t expect to see him on the field past the first quarter.
"We’ll get that first group in and try to get somewhere before 12-15 plays and move on to the young guys," Rivera said earlier in the week at training camp.
As expected, linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis will not play Saturday. Beason (hamstring) was not on the practice field Friday and Davis (strained calf) was in shoulder pads but did not participate in drills.
The two guys I'm looking most forward to seeing (other than P Brad Nortman, obviously) are CB Josh Norman and LB Luke Kuechly. Norman is expected to play after battling a nagging hamstring injury over the last week, and Kuechly is probably sitting at his locker right now like a pit bull on a chain waiting to get out on the field and hit somebody, and like many of you, I can't wait to see him lay the wood to someone tonight.
Stay tuned to CSR throughout the day as we prepare for tonight's game. We will have an Open Thread approximately one hour before kickoff, so if you're watching at home be sure to stop by and chat with the rest of CSR as we watch the Panthers take on the Texans tonight to officially start our 2012 season!