Tag:Carolina Panthers
Posted on: August 16, 2010 1:41 pm

Panthers' Smith off PUP, may 'chump proof' arm

Posted by Will Brinson

Steve Smith (the Carolina Panthers version) is one of the most quotable dudes in the NFL. Sometimes he makes people angry with his words -- sometimes he also cheeses them off with his actions, too! -- but for the most part, he's a hysterical dude.

An excellent example of that emerged today, when Smith told the Gaston Gazette 's Steve Reed that he "may have to wear something on [his arm] to keep it 'Chump proof.'"

That's a direct reference to Michael Johnson, the Giants' safety responsible for Smith's original arm-break last season; Smith believes that Johnson nailed him with a cheap shot, causing the break.

Of course, he could also be discussing himself, since he did break it a second time while playing flag football in the offseason ...

Either way, Smith escaped the PUP list and is apparently participating in drills with the Panthers on Monday. Preseason games aren't out of reach, but John Fox wasn't telling whether they were likely or not, so for now we'll leave them at unlikely, meaning Smith will probably make his debut in the Panthers' regular season opener.

Until further notice anyway.

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Posted on: August 16, 2010 9:31 am
Edited on: August 16, 2010 11:46 am

Hot Routes 8.16.10: Media wants Tebow's autograph

Posted by Will Brinson

Got a link we should feature in the Hot Routes? Follow us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) or email will [dot] brinson [at] cbs [dot] com .
  • Unsurprisingly, the comments on my "Tebow was impressive" article were all like "WHAT GAME DID YOU WATCH?!? HE PLAYED AGAINST SECOND- AND THIRD-STRINGERS!" That's true. But you know what? Tebow is so freaking amazing that he's inspiring media members to ask him for autographs -- according to Alex Marvez on Twitter , two members of the press walked up to Tebow after the game and asked for his signature. That's a big no-no (doi), because not only do you immediately shred any sense of objectivity about the person you're covering, but it's a clear-cut case of abusing the access that press members have. Next thing you know, they'll start serving us delicious food at games too! No, but seriously, this is embarrassing; a quick Twitter-poll reveals that most people agree what they did was quite annoying, etc.
  • Of course, all the Tebow love in the world won't change the top spot on the Broncos' depth chart -- Dave Krieger of the Denver Post writes that "it's not close" when it comes to how far ahead Kyle Orton is. That's true, but as a I mentioned last night, it would be somewhat surprising if Tebow didn't hop Brady Quinn for the No. 2 spot in Denver.
  • There were three No. 1 overall quarterbacks involved in the San Francisco - Indy tilt, with David Carr, Peyton Manning and Alex Smith all getting action during the game. That may be a fact that interests only me. (And it only interests me because I have a weird obsession with Carr, aka "Mister Mittens." )
  • Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News has a handy "10 things to watch" list for the Jets preseason opener. You'll never believe it, but a Darrelle Revis-less defense's play is near the top. On a fairly random note, my girlfriend (who does NOT care for football) watched "Hard Knocks" and freaking loved it. Downside: she asked if it was okay to cheer for the Jets in 2010. I begrudgingly said yes.
  • Kent Somers notes that Larry Fitzgerald -- he of the recently sprained MCL -- was prepping to have his best season ever as a pro and wants people to not "write him off." Geez, Larry. That's a lot to ask. From what I hear, he's going undrafted in almost every fantasy league after this injury.
  • Chicago Breaking Sports has video of Jay Cutler stating that the Bears were just "a few blocks away from some big runs." Yeah, and I'm just "a few hundred thousand dollars away from being a millionaire." (10 to be exact.)

Posted on: August 15, 2010 1:43 pm

Some good news for the Bucs?

Posted by Andy Benoit

ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinkas points out an interesting fact about the NFC South. Since the NFL’s divisional realignment in 2002, 12 times has a last-place team finished first in its division the following year. Six of those 12 times involved the NFC South. All four NFC South teams have accomplished this feat. In fact, it’s happened every year with the exception of 2008:

• 2003 Carolina Panthers. Went from 7-9 to 11-5 and reached the Super Bowl.
• 2004 Atlanta Falcons. Went from 5-11 to 11-5.
• 2005 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Followed a 5-11 season with an 11-5 year.
• 2006 New Orleans Saints. Jumped from 3-13 to 10-6.
• 2007 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Went from 4-12 to 9-7.
• 2009 New Orleans Saints. Followed an 8-8 season with a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl championship.
For what it's worth, the Bucs finished last in the NFC South last season.

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Posted on: August 15, 2010 11:46 am

Hot Routes 8.15.10: Overhyping the preseason

Got a link for Hot Routes? Tweet us or shoot an email to andy [dot] benoit [at] cbs [dot] com.

Jets offensive linemen Matt Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse are both competing for the starting left guard position. Slauson has the edge right now, but he was a sixth-round pick in ’09. Ducasse, a second-rounder in ’10, figures to be the future.

Former USC Trojan took another positive step in his football rebirth last night, impressing Seahawks coaches and fans with his 51-yard touchdown reception and run-blocking against the Titans/

Falcons followers have been paying close attention to rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. The first-rounder started ahead of Mike Peterson at weakside linebacker in Atlanta’s preseason debut.

Josh Freeman was 4/4 passing, including a touchdown strike to Sammie Stroughter, in page/MIA">Dolphins" target="_blank">Tampa Bay’s preseason opener against the Dolphins.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic, has a great headline for his column today: “Matt Leinart Blessed by a lack of competition”. Leinart did not look great in Arizona’s preseason opener.

One of the best offensive tackles in the game, Baltimore’s Jared Gaither, continues to battle the injury bug. On Saturday the Baltimore Sun reported that Gaither has been diagnosed with a tear in his back and could miss 2-3 weeks. Gaither had foot problems during the offseason and also suffered serious weight loss early in training camp.

Though he didn’t look particularly great against the Ravens Thursday night, there has been some buzz about Panthers rookie receiver Brandon LaFell. Now, his fellow rookie, Armanti Edwards, is getting some hype.

Packers rookie Morgan Burnett drew passing grades in his preseason debut filling in for injured starting strong safety Atari Bigby. The key for the athletic playmaker is to prove he can be physical.

Former and current Packer tight ends Mark Chmura and Jermichael Finley have been exchanging public barbs like a couple of junior high schoolers (actually, on further thought, given some of their passive-aggressive undertones, the barbs are probably more of an early high school level). We haven’t paid much attention to it, but if you want to read some details, you can click here.

Jack Del Rio still doesn’t seem too high on safety Reggie Nelson.

Jets and Giants open their new stadium tomorrow night. Given that it’s the New York market, does it seem like there is slightly less hype for this $1.6 billion venue than you’d guess?

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Posted on: August 14, 2010 10:20 am

Jonathan Stewart finally returns

Posted by Andy Benoit

Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald reports that Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart will practice today for the firstJ. Stewart (US Presswire) time this training camp. The third-year pro has been out with a heel injury.

Though technically a backup behind DeAngelo Williams, Stewart is one of the premiere runners in the game. He provides the interior power to Carolina’s rushing attack.

The Panthers’ next preseason game is Saturday, August 21 against the Jets. No word yet on whether Stewart will play.

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Posted on: August 13, 2010 12:22 am

Tyler Brayton's ankle just sprained, not broken

Posted by Will Brinson

There wasn't a ton of good news for the Carolina Panthers in their first preseason game -- a 17-12 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Matt Moore didn't look great, Jimmy Clausen looked promising but not ready, Armanti Edwards can't catch the ball and so forth and so on. (Note: not all of this is devastating, but it's not great).

One thing that did stand out though, was a surprising pass rush that generated six sacks against the Ravens. Considering that defensive line is at the top of weaknesses for the Panthers, that's good news.

Things almost got really worse though, when Tyler Brayton, with two sacks in the first quarter, went to the ground clutching his ankle following that second sack.

Fortunately, though, Brayton, according to Steve Reed of the Gaston Gazette , only sprained the ankle -- as opposed to a break that would have been devastating to the Panthers' pass rush.

Oddly, Brayton's injury was the only one worth noting from a really sloppy (weather-wise) preseason game.

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Posted on: August 12, 2010 4:15 pm

What to watch for in Clausen tonight

Posted by Andy Benoit
J. Clausen (US Presswire)
The most intriguing storyline in tonight’s ESPN preseason special between the Ravens and Panthers is the debut of Jimmy Clausen. The second-round rookie from Notre Dame has been splitting second team reps with Hunter Cantwell. Clausen has shown marked improvement over the past two weeks and seems to be finding a comfort zone in a Carolina offense that he was already somewhat familiar with.

Onlookers have praised Clausen’s mobility and athleticism. But such praise is sadly shortsighted. Clausen wasn’t drafted to be a scrambling quarterback. At this point, it’d be a better sign for him to take three sacks in the pocket than pick up three first downs with his feet. Because if Clausen is taking sacks in the pocket, at least he’s showing a willingness to hang in there and stare down the gun barrel.

Even though it’s the preseason, the Ravens defense will show Clausen a few things he’s never seen before. The key is not how Clausen performs, but how he responds. Will he stay in the pocket and trust his protection, or will he run and let things break down? Will he continue through his progressions when he’s about to get hit, or will he start peeking at the pass-rush?

Fortunately, the game is on ESPN, which means we’ll have Ron Jaworski to track all this for us. No analyst understands the mechanics of pocket passing better than Jaws. You can bet he will let viewers know where the young passer stands in terms of pocket toughness.

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Posted on: August 7, 2010 10:48 am

Dan Connor has quite an opportunity

Posted by Andy Benoit

D. Connor has an opportunity for plenty of playing time with Carolina (AP). A story that hasn’t received nearly enough attention is how the Panthers moved Jon Beason from middle linebacker to the weak side. Beason played weakside linebacker at the University of Miami; he’s only filling the spot because of the season-ending injury to Thomas Davis. But we’re talking about arguably the best 4-3 Mike ‘backer in football changing positions. How often does that happen?

The Charlotte Observer recently took a look at Carolina’s new middle linebacker, Dan Connor.

A lot of people forget that Connor was expected to be an instant starter coming out of Penn State in 2008 (of course, people expect every Penn State linebacker to be an instant starter in the NFL). But he fell to the third round and was drafted by a Carolina team that was already loaded at linebacker. Thus, his first two seasons in the league have been spent on special teams.

Now Connor has the opportunity of a lifetime. And, wisely, he’s leaning heavily on Beason’s guidance.

"I talk to him multiple times each day," Connor said. "Doesn't matter where, and he doesn't care. He's great. He's always there for me. That's what a great leader does. He's been priceless, just unbelievable."

Connor can play all three linebacker positions, but he’s most comfortable inside. It’s surprising the Panthers didn’t try him on the strong side though. Not only would that have kept Beason in the middle, it would have also meant the D would not have to rely on undersized James Anderson (235 pounds) to play in traffic.

It will be interesting to see if the Panthers stick with this linebacking personnel throughout the entire season.

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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