Carolina Panthers Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A Tale of Youth

Aug 26, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Jets 17-12. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

At this point there's no way of knowing whether the Panthers' reliance on their youth tomorrow is a factor of an excellent 2012 draft class, or an indication their depth is sub par. Tomorrow we'll see at least four rookies start, with a chance of at least two more seeing significant time. For now we're looking at each of them, and what impact they'll have on the game.

Luke Kuechly

It all starts with the first round pick. When Kuechly was selected there was a distinct lack of excitement surrounding the selection. Few doubted the Panthers took the best player available, but there was a strong sense it was a selection that didn't make the Panthers better immediately, and for a team who needed so much help on the defensive line, and secondary this was a little deflating.

Thus far, Keek has done everything needed to dissuade those doubters, whether he needed to or not. He's a linebacker who's hard to get a sense for until you see him play because of his unnatural pre-snap recognition, and seemingly always perfect first step. Against Tampa Bay he's poised to be in the perfect situation to make a big impact, and if Josh Freeman gets a little too comfortable testing Kuechly, then he could learn very quickly that he's a ball hawk at linebacker.

More after the jump

Amini Silatolu

Perhaps the rookie in for the most difficult day, Amini is slated to be matched up against former #3 overall pick Gerald McCoy. While he hasn't had the kind of huge impact that Ndamukong Suh has, McCoy is able to get a serious push out of his stance, and uses violent hands to shed blockers. Thus far Silatolu has looked great against the run, but gets caught against good pass rushers, and this could pose a problem. Over time he'll develop these skills, but right now Silatolu will need to lean heavily on Ryan Kalil to help him tomorrow.

Joe Adams

Watching Joe Adams field a punt is like playing electric football after going on an 18 hr bender. He jitters around the field looking for a hole at a breakneck pace, and when he sees the slightest opening he gets a huge gain. However, just like that bender can be a little scary, so too can his propensity for putting the ball on the ground.

Tampa spent a good chunk of free agent money ensuring their punter position was solid last season as the brought in Michael Koenen from Atlanta, almost as if they had foresight that Josh Freeman would struggle. Koenen is one of the best in the NFL, averaging 45.1 yards last year, and getting excellent hang time. Adams' job wont be easy, as he wont get as much space to work in as he's used to.

Brad Nortman

Oh boy, two punter talks in one article?! BW Smith must be positively salivating!

Truthfully nobody knows how Nortman will react to punting in real NFL competition for the first time. There were times during preseason where he looked great, and others where he looked no quite ready for the test. Whichever way you cut it, Nortman performed well enough to beat out Nick Harris, and now the job is firmly his. What happens from here out only determines how much BW is willing to spend on an official Nortman jersey.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Cat Scratch Reader

You must be a member of Cat Scratch Reader to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Cat Scratch Reader. You should read them.

Join Cat Scratch Reader

You must be a member of Cat Scratch Reader to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Cat Scratch Reader. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker