Panther Paw Prints: Week 3 of TC, Part Deux

Panthers Paw Prints

Greetings Panthers fans! Here's another set of Paw Prints for your reading pleasure.

The first paw print of the day covers a subject that we've already talked about, but I felt it worth mentioning anyway. As we all know, the Panthers reached a contract extension with RB Jonathan Stewart on Saturday, but the one thing I'm taking away from Pat Y's article is the quote by Marty Hurney below:

Jonathan Stewart staying with Panthers - NFC South Blog - ESPN

"We are thrilled to be able to extend Jonathan for five additional years," general manager Marty Hurney said. "He is a perfect fit for our organization. He is a playmaker who can make the difference in games, and we have seen the impact he and DeAngelo Williams have had on our team."

Seeing the two words "perfect fit" makes me happy. I don't know about you guys, but the J-Stew extension made my weekend. I know the Panthers will take a lot of flack for committing so much money to the RB position, but obviously they have a plan in place, and it's up to us to be patient and wait for that plan to fall into place.

Follow me after the jump for more Paw Prints...

While we're on the subject of the RB's, it must be noted that DeAngelo Williams - the other star RB in Carolina - is perfectly fine with sharing carries with Stewart, as we learned from D-Will himself:

Panthers RB Williams fine with splitting carries - Times Union

Williams had fewer than 10 carries per game last season and his 155 carries were less than 27 other tailbacks in the league. That's largely because of the presence of fellow running back Jonathan Stewart and athletic quarterback Cam Newton. But Williams wasn't upset in the least about that role. "It's easy," Williams said of how he deals with sharing carries in Carolina's offense. "You have to approach it as a team game."

It's refreshing to see players who "get it", and Williams is one of those players. His understanding that it's a team game and not an individual competition speaks volumes about why he's considered one of the leaders of this young team, and the fact that him and Stewart are both willing to split the load can only mean good things for their careers as they are surely going to enjoy the benefits of longer tenures in the NFL than guys who want to be the primary back for a team and end up running themselves into the ground before they turn 30. I'm just glad we have two guys who are willing to be team players in Carolina, and from where I sit it looks like we've got the RB position locked up for at least the next five years. I don't know about you, but I like the sound of that.

But of course, we can't succeed if the only threats we have on offense are running backs, which is where TE Greg Olsen comes into the picture. Entering his second year in Carolina, Olsen hopes to be a bigger fixture in the offense this season now that he's the primary TE after the departure of free agent Jeremy Shockey.

Ron Rivera certainly has high hopes for Olsen this year, even going out on a limb and comparing him to two of the league's young elite TE's: New England's Rob Gronkowski and New Orleans'Jimmy Graham:

Panthers tight end Olsen has his eyes on the ball | GoUpstate.com

The Panthers still hope that Brandon LaFell or Louis Murphy can admirably fill the second receiver slot, but head coach Ron Rivera thinks Olsen has all the tools to become a playmaker along the lines of top receiving tight ends like New England’s Rob Gronkowski or New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham.

I hope he's right, but I don't know if I would put Olsen in that company just yet. I think he's at the top of the 2nd tier of TE's in the league, but he's not quite ready to be among the elite. Hopefully after this season he can legitimately enter the discussion, but as it stands right now he's not at that level.

While Rivera loves our TE and thinks he's among the best in the league, one thing he doesn't particularly care for is the HBO series "Hard Knocks". For those of you wondering if the Panthers are ever going to appear on the training camp reality series now that we have Cam Newton under center, I think this article from Joe Person should give you the answer you're looking for, which is a resounding no.

Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera no fan of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

Asked if he would consider letting the "Hard Knocks" cameras in, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said: "Nope. I don’t think it suits us right now, and we won’t worry about that."

[James] Anderson said the Panthers might consider a "Hard Knocks" appearance "somewhere down the line" (read: after general manager Marty Hurney retires). "But the way we run things around here, first-class, I don’t think that will be a serious option for this franchise," Anderson said. "The show gives you an inside look at football. But it also brings some level of distraction, whether you agree or disagree. We’d just rather go about doing our business and handling football."

It looks like we're going to be waiting a long time to see the Panthers on Hard Knocks if we're waiting on Hurney to retire, because he looks like he's got another 10-15 years in him at the least. Oh well, at least we can continue to watch other teams on Hard Knocks and make fun of them when they let the distractions that come with it get the best of them.

Our final paw print of the day is about our franchise QB and his quest to silence all the doubters who have said he's going to struggle in his second year in the league. I'm pulling a quote from Rivera in the summary, but I highly suggest you read the article because there's some good stuff from Cam in the write-up.

Panthers QB Cam Newton aims to dazzle with encore – USATODAY.com

"How much better can he get?" second-year coach Ron Rivera says, sitting in a lounge during the lunch hour. "Much better. But as the case is with any franchise quarterback, we have to do our part to support him with protection, weapons, a running game. You can't expect him to rush for 80 yards and throw for 300 yards every game. We've got to make sure that it's not just about him."

I don't know about you, but the thought of Cam being "much better" than he was last season makes me a very happy fan. I can't wait to see all the doubters backtrack when Cam comes out and isn't affected by a sophomore slump, though I'm sure they'll make up more pitiful excuses for why he'll struggle in year three, just like they've been trying to do since last season ended. Oh well, 'tis the life of a superstar QB I suppose.

That's it for this edition of the Paw Prints. As always, stay tuned to CSR for any breaking news on the Carolina Panthers. If anything happens, you can rest assured that we will provide any and all details as they come available.

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