Grill Bill: Curtis Samuel on the rise? 

Curtis Samuel catches pass

Website submission from Daniel in Greenville, NC: How much of a leap do you expect for Curtis Samuel in his first healthy season for the panthers? Do you expect his touchdown numbers to rise or his total yards?

Let’s start with a reminder: There’s very little we should be reading into when it comes to how so-and-so player looked during spring workouts. With that said, I’ll cheat a little with Samuel. There was something about him that struck me very early in OTAs. Sure, his speed and athleticism flashed. But we already knew he had those traits. The difference was you could almost see an improved confidence oozing out of him.

If you’ve followed my coverage over the years, you know I rarely hype up anyone. But a few days before minicamp, I mentioned Samuel as a candidate for a breakout year and he backed me up by impressing others over those three practices.

Again, maybe I’m getting carried away about some spring practices. But there's no doubt Samuel’s hands have improved – which may be a direct correlation to the JUGS machine he invested in last summer – and as long as he can get enough touches and stay on the field for an entire season, his numbers stand to rise a good bit.

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Website submission from Addi in Chapel Hill, NC: Sup Bill, Any updates on the RB2 battle before Training Camp? Haven’t heard much about it since the draft. Thanks

Sup.

The spring rarely provides a proper opportunity to create position battle separation, but I can tell you coaches are very much looking forward to getting Jordan Scarlett and Elijah Holyfield in pads. Sure, Cameron Artis-Payne is also in the running, but it'll be interesting to see if those rookies can carve out a role that would get Christian McCaffrey off the field for at least a few snaps a game.

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@George02789416 Is Cam’s throwing motion making his throws more accurate or is he still making poor ones and is he tentative.?

He threw a handful of passes in minicamp. Against air. Most within 20 yards. With no pass rush. But I see you’re ready to jump all over him, regardless.

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Website submission from Susan in Virginia Beach, VA: In the video of Christian McCaffrey touchdown videos, I noticed that he always hits his chest 5 times and then points to the sky. Is there a significance in the 5 pumps and if so, what does it mean to him to always do that exact #?

The five represents the other members of his family: Mother Lisa, father Ed and brothers Max, Dylan and Luke.

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Website submission from Johnathon in South Boston, VA: With the addition of Gerald McCoy, how much do you think he will be used on a three man front alongside Kawann Short and Dontari Poe? And should that line up be called Cerberus like the three headed dog from Greek mythology?

I tuned out mythology when I was a kid, so had turn to Google. These are … something …

Clearly, the Panthers hope McCoy, Short and Poe will be a three-headed monster, and it was sorta fun to see them lined up next to each other during minicamp. But for what it’s worth, I think fans should recalibrate some expectations for McCoy. That’s not to say he can’t still play at a high level or put up Pro Bowl numbers; it’s just I’m not sure he’ll play traditional starter snaps.

As McCoy admitted in his introductory press conference, nine years of banging bodies on the interior have taken a toll. So to maximize what they get out of him, I could see the Panthers somewhat trying to limit his reps. Not sure yet what that range would be, but his career average is a hefty 53.5 per game. Lowering that would keep him fresher and optimize what should be one of the strongest interior rotations in the NFL.

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@PanthersLucas Which player would you be most comfortable with driving you around in a golf cart and asking you questions?

Poe cause I don’t think he’d ask many.

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Website submission from Matt in Winston-Salem, NC: Hey Bill! Can you give me any information about the team’s plans for Andre Smith? Is he in line to be Kuechly’s backup in the middle or just a depth position on the outside? And has he developed well enough to expect any step forward on the roster in either direction or is he just a big question mark? Thanks! Love your work!

I don’t think there’s any question about it – Smith has a shot to stick around. But he’s solely an inside guy who will compete with Jermaine Carter to back up Kuechly. Carter offers more position flexibility, so he has a leg up for playing time, but both second-year linebackers could be key depth/special teams pieces.

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Website submission from Darnell: Hey Bill, This is an awesome forum for Panthers Nation! My question is about our oline. This has been the best collection of talent we’ve had with the big guys in a longggggggg time! Who do you think will end up being our starting offensive line week 1? ( barring any injuries)

The most likely scenario remains:

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@forestmconner I know we have a bunch of AAF guys on the team for the time being, any of them stand out so far?

I’d keep an eye on guard Brandon Greene. He impressed some in the spring, and with some more seasoning, the former Bear by way of Alabama could help further improve the offensive line’s interior depth.

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Website submission from John in North Palm Beach, FL: As a longtime fan of the Panthers I loved listening to the game broadcast when I couldn’t watch the game. Last year the radio broadcast was not available on the app here in South Florida. It was for years before. Will it be available this year or do I have to call off from work every Sunday.

Because of league restrictions, there isn't a free mobile radio feed outside of a small radius near Charlotte. You can still listen for free from anywhere on desktop or sign up for the NFL’s Tune-In app.

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@youngandwrcklss Who is the front runner for KR/PR? Other candidates?

I’d just be throwing darts if I tried to throw out names right now. Don’t think this one’s close to being settled, so stay tuned because it may take the preseason to figure out.

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@SmallTownR1OT Can you show us an email or two that makes even Bill Voth cringe?

How about three?

fan submission 1
fan submission 2
fan submission 3

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