Tag:Carolina Panthers
Posted on: July 12, 2011 8:33 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 10:09 pm

Fox: 'Running back is our No. 1 priority'

Posted by Will Brinson

If at any point during the Denver coaching transition you thought that the 2011 Broncos would resemble the 2010 Broncos, well, you must not have realized that John Elway went out and hired John Fox.

Because Fox, the former Panthers coach well-known for pounding the rock and focusing on defense, confirmed again recently that Denver's gonna focus on the run in the coming season. Oh, and that he doesn't really like Knowshon Moreno all that much.

"We were 13th on offense last year. I certainly want more balance. We've got to run the ball more and better, and (another) running back is our No. 1 priority [in free agency]," Fox said, per the Denver Post.

All right, he doesn't directly insult Moreno and/or call him a "third-down back," and you could make the case that Fox knows he needs two solid running backs.

But come on -- it's clear that he's not that high on Moreno. And it's also clear that he'll pursue his former star, DeAngelo Williams, who should be an unrestricted free agent under the new (old?) collective bargaining rules.

If he doesn't land DeAngelo -- and there's a decent chance he won't, as both Carolina and Miami will be fighting for Williams' services -- there are other options out there, including Cedric Benson, Ronnie Brown and Willis McGahee.

It's all but certain that Denver will be able to pick one up too -- Fox's tendency to let his running backs tote the rock with great frequency makes his offense attractive for running backs.

Unless you're Knowshon Moreno anyway.

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Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:25 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:30 pm

Clausen could get another chance to prove himself

Posted by Ryan Wilson

A year ago, Jimmy Clausen was supposed to be the Panthers' quarterback of the future. He ended up starting 10 games, winning once, and by the end of the season he had completed just 52 percent of his throws, including three touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Carolina's 2-14 record wasn't entirely Clausen's fault, but with the first-overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and Cam Newton coming off a dominating college season, it wasn't a shock when the Panthers ended up taking him.

NFL quarterbacks, in general, struggle as rookies, with Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco being the notable exceptions. Two big differences between those players and Newton: they played for teams with good defenses, and perhaps more importantly, they were able to participate in minicamp and OTAs in the weeks and months leading up to their rookie seasons.

Newton has neither luxury, and it's why he probably won't be under center when the 2011 season begins.

The Charlotte Observer's Tom Sorensen goes so far as to write that Clausen will "become a legitimate NFL starting quarterback" before adding "But while Newton adjusts to the NFL, Clausen will get every opportunity to prove he can play. The Carolina Panthers almost certainly will entrust Clausen with their offense when they go to the road to play Arizona on opening weekend."

Sorensen admits that he's one of the few folks in town who believes in Clausen, which apparently include the Panthers front office since they used the No. 1 pick on a franchise quarterback a year after supposedly taking one 48th overall.

Whatever the long-term thinking, for now, starting Clausen makes the most sense. Not only because he has more experience, but also because the Panthers are in the early stages of rebuilding, and there's no need to subject Newton to what Clausen had to go through last year.

It may sound ruthless and unfair, and maybe it is. But it's also an opportunity for Clausen to show he's a legit NFL quarterback. As Sorensen notes, that job description includes more than just the physical abilities: "The quality Clausen lacked most [last season] was poise. Unwilling to risk an interception, he'd hang onto the ball. … He might fail again, but it won't be because he's meek. There will be coaches to impress and teammates to convince, and I think he will."

As for Newton, he's working out in Florida at the IMG campus and saying all the right things.

"I look up to the guys like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger," he said. "They're great at what they do. I really love how Peyton Manning controls the whole game. He is the dictator out there on the field. He doesn't let the defense dictate him. Aaron Rodgers is a machine as far as his mechanics. ...Tom Brady is the ultimate leader. Drew Brees is a savvy guy in the pocket. Why not take a little something from everybody and apply it to your own?"

Nothing wrong with that. In fact, we're guessing Clausen made similar comments last summer. The true test, however, will come when Newton's thrown into the fire. It's perfectly reasonable to want to emulate Brady or Manning or Brees. It's something else entirely to be able to do that with 350-pound slabs of meat trying to drive you through the turf. For the immediate now, though, it sounds like that will remain Clausen's problem.

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 2:47 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 5:21 pm

QB Kerry Collins retires (UPDATED)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

After 16 NFL seasons, Titans quarterback Kerry Collins announced his retirement Thursday.

It's never completely surprising when a 38-year-old player decides to hang it up for good (notable exception: Brett Favre), but it was less than three weeks ago that Collins told the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt that not only did he want to return to the Titans, but that he wanted to start. And he made similar comments the week before that.

Maybe Collins had a change of heart, or perhaps he didn't like his chances of beating out Tennessee's first-round pick, rookie Jake Locker. Either way, the timing's probably right. Collins had a resurgence of sorts in 2008, when he started 15 games, threw for 2,676 yards, including 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, as the Titans won the AFC South and finished the regular season with a 13-3 record. They would lose to the Ravens in the AFC Divisional playoffs.

In the two seasons since, Collins started 17 games, and in 2010 he tossed 14 touchdowns, the most since 2005 with the Raiders.

Collins was originally drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 1995 draft (fifth overall), and he also played with the Saints and Giants before finishing his career with the Raiders and Titans. Collins led the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV where they lost to the Ravens.

If Collins truly does retire, the Titans might give serious consideration to signing Matt Hasselbeck when free agency begins. The team will need a veteran QB to mentor Locker and play should it come to that.

UPDATED 5:17 P.M. ET: Here's what Collins had to say about his retirement, via the AP:

"The past several months have brought on much introspection, and I have decided that while my desire to compete on Sundays is still and always will be there, my willingness to commit to the preparation necessary to play another season has waned to a level that I feel is no longer adequate to meet the demands of the position," Collins said in a statement.

And a statement from Titans coach Mike Munchak:

"Kerry had a great NFL career and we have been very fortunate to have had him with our organization for the last five years. I really enjoyed working with him. He was a true pro, who loved the game. His work ethic and commitment were a great example to his teammates of what it took to be successful in this league."

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 9:12 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 9:38 am

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11

Hard Knocks (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Throughout the lockout that seems neverending -- now at 114 days and counting!!! -- we’ve seen players get arrested, we’ve seen the NFL and the NFLPA come together and then bicker and then come together and then bicker, and we’ve seen players sue their girlfriends for their engagement rings.

Most disturbing, we’ve seen the signs that Brett Favre might want to return for another season.

We’ve also heard plenty about how a lost preseason would cost the NFL $800 million if the lockout continues through August and into September.

But when it comes to the preseason and how much is on the line, you know what we haven’t heard about? We haven’t heard which squad will be the subject of the annual highlight of August –- HBO’s "Hard Knocks."  

Oh, we know which teams have already declined the invitation (or supposedly, declined the invitation). Among them are the Buccaneers, the Broncos, the Lions and the Falcons (who might be open to doing it in the future), and at this point, it seems as if nobody wants to be on the show. Making matters tougher are those who say cooperating with Hard Knocks is a mistake.

Assuming we’ll see a preseason this year that would provide a platform for the Hard Knocks crew to start filming -- and CBSSports.coms’ Mike Freeman writes that it’s getting close --here are five teams we’d like to see featured on Hard Knocks. Many of them might not be interested for one reason or another, but if we have a fantasy roster, this is it.


NewtonThe big storyline: Simply put: the entertainer and the icon, Cam Newton. We want to see how he learns the offense; we want to see if his teammates rally around him; we want to get an early idea of whether Carolina made a bad decision last April. Or maybe he’s the next superstar in the game. Either way, he’s one of the biggest storylines of the preseason, and we want to be inside the locker room to see what happens.

The foil: Jimmy Clausen. How is he going to react to Newton? What happens when Newton badly fakes out some defender destined for the practice squad and gains 30 yards on a broken play? Will the director then cut to Clausen as he raises a fist to the sky in anger? And what happens if Clausen, um, actually outplays Newton?

Two other compelling reasons: 1) NFL.com’s Gil Brandt has mentioned in the past couple of days that Favre has offered to help mentor Newton. Can you imagine the video that could come from this, especially if the camera caught Favre alone in the locker room sending a text message? 2) WR Steve Smith: is he going to play for the Panthers or not?


The big storyline: The same guy who makes sure this show would never feature his team on his watch. That would be coach Bill Belichick. How fascinating would it be to see how Belichick builds a team and how he relates to his players? Would we get to see Belichick’s team meeting in which he implicitly tells his team how to answer questions from the media (in the most uninteresting way possible)? Kidding aside, we want to see a future Hall of Fame coach behind the scenes and uncensored.

The foil: Rex Ryan. Is there any way to get a split screen of the Jets coach talking trash about Belichick -- hey, he’s not here to kiss anybody’s ring! – while Belichick coldly goes about finding a way to make Ryan pay for his words?

Two other compelling reasons: 1) Danny Woodhead: he was on Hard Knocks with the Jets last season, and though he’s not in danger of being cut with New England, I still want to know why Woodhead, all of a sudden, is so freaking good. 2) G Logan Mankins (and his agent) has said some not very complimentary things about the Patriots management, all in the name of landing a large contract. Will he be kinder and gentler this preseason?


The big storyline: Obviously, the Lombardi Trophy. Hard Knocks has never followed a team the preseason after it won the Super Bowl, so it’d be cool to see the ring ceremony the public wasn’t allowed to witness a few weeks back (I’m assuming Hard Knocks wasn’t actually there, but it’d be cool nonetheless) while watching the Packers attempt a repeat.

The foil: Charles Woodson vs. Tramon Williams. Woodson is the bigger name, but he’s older than Williams and there’s a pretty good chance Williams is the better CB these days. Maybe we’d really get to see if Woodson is close to the end, and if Williams can replace Woodson’s outrageous production.

Two other compelling reasons: 1) Would Aaron Rodgers sign autographs for the fans at training camp? Because, as we all know, he doesn’t like signing for cancer patients (I kid, I kid). 2) Last year, little-used cornerback Brandon Underwood had a sexual assault charge hanging over his head all season (he pleaded no contest to a lesser charge). Now, he’s been charged with disorderly conduct after an alleged physical altercation with his soon-to-be ex-wife. Underwood isn’t a great quote, but his story might make for an interesting change of pace on the show.


The big storyline: The will-they-or-won’t-they-fire-him as it relates to coach Gary Kubiak. I’m kind of surprised he’s still coaching in Houston actually, and the last time Hard Knocks featured this kind of storyline, it was Wade Phillips with the Cowboys. Now, Phillips is Kubiak’s defensive coordinator. How hot can that boiler room get anyway?

The foil: The secondary. This is what I wrote in the Texans offseason checkup: “The secondary (Kareem Jackson, Glover Quin, Bernard Pollard and Eugene Wilson) were just tremendously bad. If the Texans can’t get this fixed, it doesn’t matter who’s coordinating the defense, because Houston simply won’t win.” I don’t disagree with that.

Two other compelling reasons: 1) Though he came off a bit bumbling in Season 4 with the Cowboys, Phillips is a sympathetic figure. And the man has proved he can coordinate a defense. I want to see how he transforms a 4-3 sieve-like defense into a 3-4 defense that potentially could save Kubiak’s job. 2) Will QB Matt Schaub ever get into the playoffs? He’s the best quarterback in the league who hasn’t gotten there.


The big storyline: Obviously, Al Davis, and the one question I want to know. How hands-on is he these days?

The foil: Nnamdi Asomugha: Just like Darrelle Revis last season with the Jets, we’re not going to see too much of the talented free agent cornerback on the TV. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see any of Antonio Cromartie either (psst, see video below).

Two other compelling reasons: 1) New coach Hue Jackson finally gets his chance at running a team. Forget that Tom Cable went 6-0 in the AFC West last year without making the playoffs -- still a pretty damn impressive feat. Davis got rid of him, just like he gets rid of everybody after a couple years. Will Jackson be an exception? 2) Al Davis: Seriously, I want as much Al Davis as possible.

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Posted on: July 2, 2011 8:05 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 9:09 pm

Newton knows 90 percent of Panthers' playbook?

Posted by Will Brinson

Cam Newton has a tough task ahead of him once the lockout's resolved -- he has to learn the entirety of Rob Chudzinski's insanely complex offense, and do so in a short amount of time.

But he's been working with some former NFL quarterbacks, including Chris Weinke, and it appears to be paying huge dividends for the rookie out of Auburn.

According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, these sessions have featured detailed learning of the Panthers' playbook, "about 90 percent of which Weinke has installed."

Essentially, Newton's mimicking the practices he'd be getting in the lost offseason by getting a play from Weinke, calling out the play like he was in the huddle, going through each play's cadence at the line of scrimmage, and then slinging passes to whatever receivers are there.


Per Person, some recent attendees include Michael Clayton, Alex Smith, Titus Young and a "couple small-college receivers."

Following the throws, Weinke and former Chudzinski protégé Ken Dorsey -- who we'd also mentioned as a Newton tutor -- make suggestions as to how Newton can improve his mechanics and individual tweaks and designs for each play that's being run.

"He wants to be great," Weinke said.

Newton probably does want to be great -- the issue will be whether or not he's capable of recreating the success he had at Auburn once he gets on the field for the Panthers.

But given how unsettled the NFL's situation is right now, it's pretty darn impressive to see Newton maximizing his offseason, especially when there's no enforced motivation to do so.

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Posted on: June 30, 2011 9:34 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 9:49 am

Dolphins have very specific FA targets?

Posted by Will Brinson

The Miami Dolphins have -- already -- had an interesting offseason. The running back combo of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown appears headed out the door (and the Fins still passed on Mark Ingram) and, as previously noted, questions about Chad Henne remain (and the Fins still passed on various quarterbacks).

Oh yes, and owner Stephen Ross publicly pursued Jim Harbaugh while Tony Sparano was still employed, failed to land the then-Stanford coach and then had to give Sparano a raise.

This friction across three key areas has created a need come free agency -- Omar Kelly of the Miami Sun-Sentinel writes that the Dolphins have a couple of very specific targets between now and whenever the season starts.

First, Kelly believes they'll add a veteran quarterback, but not a Chad Pennington-style backup-type. Kelly believes it will be someone who will be "savvy enough to push -- if not unseat -- [Henne]"; names he floats include Carson Palmer, Kevin Kolb, Matt Flynn, Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman.

That's a pretty, pretty wide spectrum of quarterbacks, but the point is salient -- the Dolphins will get another quarterback who expects to get a shot at starting.

They're also going to get a "tailback who has the ability to run stretch plays … that gets to the EDGES," Kelly writes. The biggest name associated with Miami thus far has been the Panthers' DeAngelo Williams; Carolina's repeatedly said it wants Williams back, but depending on how free agency shakes out, it seems less and less likely that re-signing him would be a prudent move.

There are other available names, though: Ahmad Bradshaw, Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush are names Kelly hears from "reliable sources."

Those guys make a lot of sense, especially if the Dolphins have interest in bringing back Ricky -- a combo of Sproles or Bush plus Williams would be a solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield.

All that's easier said than done, of course, but it's pretty clear what the Dolphins need, and there's good news for Fins fans, because it lines up nicely with what Miami wants.

And, provided free agency plays out as expected, the open market might be spot-on for those voids as well.

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Posted on: June 26, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: June 27, 2011 7:43 am

Panthers might take 3rd-rounder for Smith

Posted by Will Brinson

Steve Smith's travails with the Panthers this offseason have been well documented, despite the calm nature of the relationship.

But it does appear that the Panthers will eventually deal the veteran receiver, which means the only question is what they'll be able to get in return for the 32-year-old wideout.

Joe Pearson of the Charlotte Observer penned a piece over the weekend indicating five things the Panthers need to do when football gets rolling again, and "Deal with Steve Smith" checks in at No. 2.

Pearson correctly believes Carolina will simply trade the "disgruntled receiver" and thinks that "a third-round pick might be enough to pull the trigger."

We're inclined to agree, for a couple of reasons. One, Smith is pretty clearly not going to hang around in Carolina -- if he does, it's because a) no one wants him or b) the Panthers want to much in return.
Smith's Saga in Charlotte

"A" isn't going to happen and "B" seems unlikely, because Carolina's a team on the rebuild who's dealt with missing critical draft picks over the past few years. As such, they value the possession of extra selections on draft day, especially in a time of need.

And for a team like the Chargers -- the top-rumored landing spot for Smith thus far -- a third-rounder seems like a pretty fair price to pay for a guy who'll be under contract for two years, owed $15 million and still has plenty of big plays left in the tank.

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Posted on: June 25, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 2:17 pm

Newton: 'I don't bring race into the game'

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You remember all the criticism heaped upon Cam Newton before the Panthers made him the No. 1 pick?

He was a one-year wonder, his learning curve would be steep, all he cares about his building a brand and being a big star. That was the talk leading up to the NFL draft. Of course, it all remains to be seen whether any of that is true, but that didn’t stop his advisor, Warren Moon, from declaring that the criticism had racial overtones.

The life of Newton
Said Moon nearly three months ago: “I’m not going to say it’s totally racial. I just think they just keep piling on. I don’t understand why they keep piling on. Because this is a guy that’s a very special talent that has done some very special things and they just keep trying to cut up every part of his game. There’s no way a guy could be as successful as he’s been whatever level that he’s been on and have all these different flaws that they’re talking about right now.”

In the latest edition of GQ, Newton was asked if he felt like he had been targeted by detractors a bit more because he is black. Newton took a different tact than Moon.

"Sir, it all comes down to whether a person wins or loses," Newton said, via NFL.com. "I don't bring race into the game, 'cause then you're talking about excuses. I. Hate. Excuses. Excuses are a disease."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com