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Dayton Fliers: Footnotes make headlines

Posted Oct 27, 2010

The Panthers' victory over the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday was needed for all the obvious reasons (see Dayton Fliers: Winning the only cure).

But it also served as a reminder that nothing is trivial when it comes to player pursuit in the National Football League.

Just consider some of the pivotal players from last week.

Waiver claim Matt Moore (Class of '07) hit sixth-round draft pick David Gettis ('10) for the Panthers' two touchdowns. Protecting him on the right side of the line were undrafted rookie free agent Garry Williams ('09) at right tackle and seventh-round draft choice Geoff Schwartz ('08) at right guard.

Meanwhile, one of Carolina's two sacks on defense was registered by another waiver claim, Derek Landri ('09).

There is a tendency to dismiss a player who may not come to a team through the front door. That was the case with each of the above – players whose presence was documented in footnotes rather than headlines.

Moore, claimed from Dallas following the final roster cut four years ago, has now started 11 games, winning seven, which is a pretty good percentage however a quarterback arrives. Williams emerged from a pack of rookie free agents last year to be the only one to make the Panthers' 53-man roster.

Gettis and Schwartz were draft picks, but they're two more examples of how quality is not limited to the bells-and-whistles portion of ESPN's draft coverage.

Landri took a different route to Charlotte, being selected by Jacksonville in the fifth round of the '07 draft and playing almost three years for the Jaguars before being waived late last season and claimed by Carolina.  After six games, he leads the defensive line in tackles and is tied with linebacker Dan Connor for most tackles for losses with five.

While none of the players were greeted with fanfare, they also didn't just fall from the sky. Each player is a credit to the college and pro scouting departments that saw something in them to bring them to Carolina.

The scouts are more obscure than the players they uncover, but the fruits of their labor are not limited to high-profile players. Each fall, they beat the back roads from Ames, Iowa, to Hattiesburg, Miss., looking for talent. At other times, they sit in a room and watch tape of every pro team, looking for that expendable player whose talents might fit here.

Some of their best work is not even noticed at the time, only to become evident later.

Like in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's game.