Panther Paw Prints: Mikell for your Thoughts Edition

USA TODAY Sports

As we reported earlier this week the Panthers were discussing a contract with former Rams and Eagles SS Quintin Mikell. That leads off this edition of Panther Paw Prints.

Hopefully with the July 4th Holiday over we can get this deal done:

Carolina Panthers close to Quintin Mikell deal | GiveMeSport
Mikell was released by the Rams despite enjoying a career high tackle total last season, having broken the century barrier with 101 during a poor campaign for St Louis. He also made three sacks - another career high - and forced four fumbles, and is set to form a formidable pairing with Charles Godfrey in Carolina. Mikell's career total of 19 stuffed runs and 10 combined in the last three seasons make him a potentially shrewd acquisition for the Panthers.

He sounds like the perfect guy for the job yet I had ruled him out due to estimated salary demands.

Panthers HC Ron Rivera is an obvious coach in the 'hot seat' in 2013:

Jason Garrett, Rex Ryan among six coaches on hot seat in 2013 - NFL.com
These guys know that as long as Carolina can't stop anyone when it counts -- lacking that "You'll win over our dead bodies" mindset -- all of this offensive restructuring will amount to diddly poo. Rivera has gotten two cracks at this deal. The results: 6-10 and 7-9.

On the plus side, the Panthers closed out the 2012 season in style, winning five of their last six games, with franchise quarterback Cam Newton showing signs of maturation. The downside: Rob Chudzinski parlayed his accomplishments as Carolina's offensive coordinator into a head-coaching gig with the Cleveland Browns. Mike Shula, who served as the Panthers' QB coach for the last two seasons, takes over the offensive reins.

How will this work out? Remains to be seen. Many speculated that Richardson would fire Rivera upon meeting with the coach in January. While that didn't happen, it doesn't take much reading between the lines to know the leash is short.

Rivera needs a fast start to stay alive in Carolina. If he does that he could instead cement his next contract.

Pat Yasinkas is listing his top 25 players in the NFC South. Panthers DE Charles Johnson comes in at #14:

NFC South Top 25: No. 14 - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Why he’s No. 14 in 2013: Johnson has made Carolina fans forget all about Julius Peppers. He’s become one of the game’s most consistent pass rushers and it doesn’t hurt that he has Greg Hardy, who also reached double-digit sacks last year, on the other side. They form the most dynamic pass-rushing duo in the division and they’re about to get some help. The Panthers used their first two draft picks on defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short. Their arrival means offensive lines have to pay more attention to the interior. That’s only going to make Johnson and Hardy more dangerous on the outside.

Here's a good news story for one lucky Panther fan:

The Carolina Panthers Deserve All The Reddit Karma Possible

After seeing the Cam Newtown-autographed mini helmet, another redditor somewhat sarcastically responded: "Nobody ever sends me signed Carolina Panthers helmets." And because the internet is (occasionally) awesome, the Panthers’ verified account swooped in a couple hours later, like some sort of summer Santa Claus, asking "how about a signed football? PM us your info." And they actually sent one!

The internet is actually occasionally awesome ;)

This one I was going to leave out but instead kept in as an example of a piece that just brings absolutely nothing new (sorry, couldn't resist). The author says the Panther secondary should be better but then gives no reasons other than the 2nd rate players we signed.

Carolina Panthers' Secondary Should Be Better in 2013 - Yahoo! Sports

Playing opposite of Munnerlyn will be a new face in 2013. Veteran corner Drayton Florence was signed this past offseason, and fans are excited about it. Florence has 18 career interceptions and has carried the label of "ball hawk" with him to Carolina. Despite breaking his arm in Week 2 last season, Florence still played in eight games and recorded an interception. Some question his durability but Carolina added another new face just after Florence to help out with that. DJ Moore, who came as a free agent signing this offseason, is a younger player, going into his fifth season in the NFL. Despite only making three official starts, Moore has 10 career interceptions, all coming within the last three seasons. After his rookie season, Moore played an important role in the Chicago Bears' defense, playing in at least 13 games each season for the past three years. While Moore is a solid tackler at corner, he'll be on the field in most passing situations and be looking to take passes the other way for Carolina.

I'm optimistic the secondary can be better but at least give me something.

One new player we've been hanging on is signee Mike Mitchell who has a a good shot to start if we fail to sign Mikell:

Mitchell seeks starting safety spot

"It's not about me versus D.J.; it's me versus the offense, and whoever plays better will end up getting more playing time when the season comes," Mitchell said. "He's got skills. I've got skills. It's just a matter of what the coaches want to have out there. The best man will play." Mitchell flashed some of his ability during organized team activities and the Panthers' recent minicamp, but he referred to such practices to "basketball on grass." He expects to hit his stride at training camp when players are allowed to hit each other. "I'm a student of the game, so I understand things pretty well, and you'll be able to see when we put the pads on that I'm a physical safety,"

Mitchell said. "I'm not the biggest guy in the world, but I think I pack a pretty good punch for 210 pounds. "I really can't wait to get the pads on and play against somebody else when we actually can hit."

This is a very good piece on Newton's patrh to the pros that also explains why Newton didn't pursue baseball. Make that a very surprising reason for why he didn't pursue baseball:

Carolina Panthers Cam Newton's path to the pros - ESPN The Magazine - ESPN

The middle school days I quit baseball at 14 because I was afraid of the pitches. The kids started getting better and throwing faster, and it would've hurt getting hit by that ball, so I stopped playing. That left a void, so I started playing basketball in the eighth grade. It was just something to do then, and in my first high school game, I fouled out. I was big and strong, and every time I tried to steal the ball on defense, I'd knock the kid down.

I had to understand the difference between basketball and football, but it was challenging being so big. My first position in football was linebacker, actually, which helped me more than anything. It gave me the mechanism to want to hit rather than to cringe at the thought of being hit. So when I got the opportunity to play offense, it was nothing. I wasn't shying away from contact. If anything, I was initiating it. I think that's what kind of made me stand out at an early age. My mom always wondered how I could be afraid of a little baseball when I always had these huge guys chasing me. It's a good question.


So 300 lb defenders are less scary than a baseball? Hmmm...it might sting a little more but I would think the defender can cause greater damage in general. Anyway, I'm glad it worked out the way it did.

Moving to another NFC South QB, we have stats that show why Josh Freeman might lack any future upside in my book:

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Deep Pass Troubles

That's the kind of straw-grasping that Freeman's advanced stats leave you to make. When he's been below average in DVOA, he's been below average on all downs. When he's above average in DVOA, he's above average on all downs. His red-zone DVOA follows a roller coaster pattern (which is true for most quarterbacks, to be honest). I know we have a few hardcore Bucs fans here. What theories do you have about what has happened to Freeman since 2010? Based on what I've seen and researched of him, I can see why head coach and haircut watch-setter Greg Schiano is peeing down both legs when it comes to Freeman. It's been four years, and Freeman's main trait as a quarterback is that nobody knows what to expect him to be in four years.


'Peeing down both legs'...had to link this one up just for that quote. ;)

Paw Prints Over

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