Panther Paw Prints: TC Week 1 Edition

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Here's Panther related links from around the web starting with the most recent.

In one of recently released Panthers RG Geoff Hangartner last interviews as a Panther he makes it known who he thinks is the best center in the NFL:

Returning to center a snap for Carolina Panthers’ Geoff Hangartner | NFL Football | The State
"Well, the hiccup is that Ryan Kalil’s not in there," Hangartner said. "We’re at our best when Kalil’s playing center; he’s the best center in the game in my opinion. It’s not a huge issue communication-wise, the only thing is that Ryan’s not playing. "I’ve played a lot of center in my career, so you just have to do more communicating at center. It’s not a huge change for me."

Speaking of Kalil he has some praise for the guy taking his snaps in camp:

Camp Confidential: Carolina Panthers - NFC South Blog - ESPN

"The thing that I really admire about Cam is, even through all the adversity and even through all of the stuff the media has tried to create that’s not true about him, he’s done a really good job of weathering those storms," Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil said. "His self-evaluation is phenomenal. He’s approached many guys and said, 'Look, I know I don’t do a great job with this or that,' and he’s the first one to tell you that he’s working on it and he’s going to do his best to make sure bad things don’t happen again. I’ve been around guys that are too prideful to ever say that or make an effort to do that. "I’ve played around guys who will tell you, 'This is who I am, take it or leave it. I really don’t care what you think of me.' Cam’s not like that. That’s something that I really respect out of him, and that’s going to help not only with his teammates, but with himself."

This has been my impression of Cam as well and is why I think he is misunderstood my most people outside of the Carolina fan base. Though most interpret his mannerism and posture as arrogance he is actually very humble.

Staying with Cam, by most accounts he didn;t have a good day on Tuesday:

On Tuesday: Carolina Panthers' Defense 1, QB Cam Newton 0 | CharlotteObserver.com

"He missed a couple of throws, he was a little bit late coming out (and) throwing to the sideline one time," Rivera said. "And the other time, he made a secondary read and tried to come back to it. He’s going to have to speed that up. And those are things that will be corrected."

You've got rein him in Ron...keep it up!

The skill positions are always the first to shine in training camp and this year it's rookie RB Kenyon Barner. Barner has amazing speed and quicks but like many smaller running backs he has to work on pass protection:

Carolina Panthers: Rookie Kenjon Barner looks to make impact
"I’m learning to be patient and letting things develop rather than trying to force the issue," the sixth round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft said. "I’m working on pass protection and changing my running style a little." His pass protection is a concern, but Barner said he is "working on technique, having the right body position so I can be in the position to strike rather than be hit; just little things like that. I’m picking up things and it’s definitely a work in progress but I’m definitely picking it up."

Here's a short Q&A with our favorite mythical creature:

Greg Hardy is Carolina Panthers' man of character | CharlotteObserver.com

A sampling of Hardy from Tuesday:

On if he has hit his ceiling yet as a player: "There is no roof. The sky keeps going. So that's where I'm going to go."

On what he planned to do on the Panthers' off day Wednesday: "Sleep, some more sleep and maybe a massage and come back and dominate some more."

On whether he cared to back off from his outrageous 50-sack prediction: "You got a TV? Watch."

You have to love the 2nd answer for sure. Come back and 'dominate some more'! I am so ready for Rivera to 'Release the Kraken!'

You might recall Jerry West paid a visit earlier this week. Here's what he ahd to say about Newton:

The Rocky Mount Telegram

"It’s up to him at his period in life to grow and make everyone around him better," West said of Newton. "I think he’s going to be the kind of player everyone anticipates he will be and get them to highest level. He has a lot of obstacles ahead of him but I think he’s the guy to do it."

I'm not sure what West is drawing that analysis from given his short amount of time with Newton. Maybe he can see the future or meditated about it. But who am I to doubt Jerry West?

There's a lot of talk about the Panthers front 7 on defense being one of the best:

Panthers defense will rely on strength of front 7 | www.wsoctv.com

"I like the continuity in the defense," McDermott said. "I am excited about this year but we have a lot of work to do, like any team. "Like I said to the players the other night, every team right now is sitting in a room thinking they have answered all of the questions in the offseason. We're no different. But what we do from this meeting going forward will separate us."

I'm reserving my judgment until they show it on the field but I like what the rookies DTs are saying so far:

Carolina Panthers’ rookie linemen Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short carry high expectations | CharlotteObserver.com

"I think it’ll be a lot better for me seeing as I’m not real good with the finesse and all that stuff," Lotulelei said. "I think when the pads come on I’ll have more time to practice and improve my game and be able to actually get some good looks for myself."

Lotulelei said the biggest things he has learned since coming to the league are watching how the veterans play on the field and carry themselves off it. Short has noticed as well. He said he and Lotulelei would watch 10-year defensive tackle Dwan Edwards during OTAs and marvel and how efficient and precise he was. "He leads by example,"

Short said. "Standing in the background watching, he does everything to the T. ... Dwan Edwards doesn’t do anything wrong. (I’m) just trying to follow those footsteps. We mess up in practice and they get on us and tell us what we need to do. Just listening to those guys, we can learn a lot from them."

The thought of Star needing to work on his 'finesse' makes me chuckle.

Greg Hardy isn't the only one setting lofty goals though I think you will find Charles Godfrey's goal a little more realistic than 50 sacks:

Carolina Panthers defense puts more emphasis on forcing turnovers | CharlotteObserver.com

"I need eight interceptions. That’s my goal," he said. "I marked that down before we even started (offseason training activities) and I’m sticking with that. Anything more is a bonus." Godfrey said he feels comfortable as the last line of defense, and "couldn’t stop thinking about" his new position during the six-week break after minicamp. With the release and subsequent retirement of Chris Gamble, Godfrey is the Panthers’ active interceptions leader with 11. "I want to be the guy back there to where if the offense needs something, then I’m able to be back there and take that away," Godfrey said. "I want to give Cam (Newton) and them that ball back. So when that ball’s in the air, I want to have the opportunity to make the play in the back end."

Notice he said 'need' and not 'want'. Needs drive us to perform more so than 'wants. At least that's the theory.

Here's another guy needing to raise his game:

SPARTANBURG: Carolina Panthers’ Byron Bell ready to take game to ‘next level’ | Carolina Panthers | Rock Hill Herald Online

"I ran the ball a lot in high school and not so much my last two years in college," Bell said. "I’m getting back to running the football and getting back to the basics and fundamentals and fitting up on guys and driving them off the ball. I’m excited, we got some great backs and I’m excited to open up some holes for those guys."

Bell has plenty to work in all aspects of his game.

One rookie I noticed at TC who seemed to be soaking up as much as he could between the ears was the rookie LB selected int he 5th round:

SPARTANBURG: Carolina Panthers bring pep to first day in pads | Carolina Panthers | Rock Hill Herald Online

"You can only learn so much on paper, so getting on the field is helping my growth," Klein said. "It’s kind of a wake-up call that I have to be ready to go at any time, and I have people counting on me so I’m ready to step up to the plate."

Rivera said the age and injury histories of Beason and Davis shaped several of the team’s personnel moves the past two years. "It played into a lot of things. Drafting Luke (Kuechly) last year, bringing Chase in this year and then drafting A.J.," Rivera said. "You always have to be concerned with that. These are guys that are veteran players that hopefully have some really good years still left in them. But at the same time you’ve got to safeguard it."

And we thought the Panthers were not addressing a need then they took the play maker from Iowa St.

This last link goes back to the draft process and how teams are digging deeper into a player's background before drafting them:

Carolina Panthers, other NFL teams delve deeper into player backgrounds | CharlotteObserver.com

Just like dreadlocks were the image discussion fodder in the league in the 2000s, tattoos have become the hot topic lately. Much was made last season of Colin Kaepernick’s heavily tattooed arms by some columnists and analysts who said such body decoration is unbecoming of a franchise quarterback.

When Panthers owner Jerry Richardson found out Cam Newton did not have any tattoos or piercings in 2011 pre-draft interviews, Richardson said he told Newton to "keep it that way." Hernandez’ tattoos have come into the discussion since his arrest due to having a red "Blood" tattoo on his right hand. It is still unclear if Hernandez has any gang ties. According to a CBSSports.com report, in the wake of the Hernandez case, teams may begin using a police expert to examine prospects’ tattoos before the draft.

So might teams start taking full body pictures of prospects at the combine and send them to cops to decipher the tats? Seems a little far fetched but given the amount of money involved it would not surprise me.

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