Panther Paw Prints: Up Tempo Edition

USA TODAY Sports

Here's the latest batch of Paw Prints for your weekend enjoyment.

Steve Smith says there is legitimate competition at WR this offseason:

Panthers WR Smith: I want to play 15-16 seasons - San Antonio Express-News
"This is the most competition I've seen and it's real, legitimate competition," Smith said. "The first day I walked into the receivers' room I could feel the thickness in there. It's kind of this uneasy feeling. You could feel the competition. You could feel the seriousness. No one was loose."

We discussed earlier this week Cam's desire to be a team captain. Ryan Kalil could be another guy in line to be a captain but even he thinks it will be hard to unseat Smith and Gross for the honor:

Cam Newton: I’d like to be a Carolina Panthers’ captain | CharlotteObserver.com
“You’ve got to look at the team as a whole. I just think there’s guys who have been with the organization a lot longer that have been in that role for a long time,” veteran center Ryan Kalil said Thursday. “So it’s hard. There’s only two of them. I would say there’s a couple other guys that would be in that mix. “But it’ll be a while before it transitions to somebody else.” In response to a reporter’s question Wednesday, Newton said he would like to be a captain and understands the responsibility that comes with it. “I recognize – and everyone knows around the league – when you’re a team captain that’s not just a patch on the jersey. You’re holding yourself to a higher standard with being accountable,” Newton said. “I’m going about it each and every day and trying to make that happen.”

Though the Panthers maybe simplifying the play calling they don't plan to slow down the offense:

Ron Rivera: Carolina Panthers’ offense under Mike Shula will be simplified, huddles faster | CharlotteObserver.com
“We want to be up-tempo, we want to practice up-tempo and get things going up-tempo,” Rivera said Thursday at organized team activities. “That’s what you see, you see more of that in the last couple weeks in these OTAs.”

NFL.com says LB Luke Kuechly is one of the 10 most important defenders in the league:

Geno Atkins heads NFL's most indispensable defensive players - NFL.com
8) Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers: I think this cat is a star. I thought he was the best defensive player in the 2012 NFL Draft and voted for him as Defensive Rookie of the Year (an honor he ran away with). The former Boston College icon became the rock of the Panthers defense. Kuechly is not only a true tackler, he's an indispensable leader. He is on my short list of players I would build by defense around.

He called him a 'cat'....he made a pun. Speaking of #59, Newton sees a competition between himself and Keech so when asked to heap more praise on his instead Newton gave us another Cam-ism for the books:

Forget the blips - Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton must win | CharlotteObserver.com
While acknowledging that Kuechly made a “leap” and not just a “step” this offseason, Newton also took pains Wednesday in a news conference to avoid complimenting the much-praised middle linebacker too much. Newton put it like this: “I’m not going to just keep rubbing batter on the cake.” In practice, Newton has made competing with No. 59 personal. “It’s an unspoken challenge for me not to throw a pick to him,” Newton said. “Just personal, you know. We have our own way of communicating and challenging each other. … If I were to throw an interception, it’s not going to be in 59’s hands.”

James postulated whether we could put pancake batter on a cake and re-cooking it...sound good to you!

I don't think WR is our weakest position and instead think this guy nails it:

2013 Team Needs: Carolina Panthers | ProFootballFocus.com
Behind Kalil, the team was forced to move Geoff Hangartner to the middle from right guard, and it didn’t go well, to say the least. He ended the season as the fifth-worst graded center, mostly for his efforts in run blocking, though that’s not the only position where he struggled as in his four games at RG, he compiled a grade of -8.0. At the other guard spot, Amini Silatolu finished the season as our fifth-worst graded player at the position. However, unlike Hangartner, it was mostly due to his inability to protect Cam Newton. For Newton’s sake, let’s hope the second-round pick can improve in his second year.

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