Dayton Fliers: Hope springs eternal at minicamp

A former NFL colleague used to refer to minicamp as the "Time of Good Feelings," and there is a lot of truth to that phrase.

The three-day get-togethers usually inspire optimism throughout the league. New players, new coaches, and in Carolina's case last weekend, beautiful weather, have a way of equating to renewed promise.

During minicamp it is harder to know if a play was good offense, poor defense or vice versa, so the tendency is to choose the side of the positive.

Most of all, the days are a time for learning and installation for the players and coaches, who are quick to point out that any judgments should be reserved until there are pads and different colored jerseys on the opponent. To be sure, there have often been players who were minicamp stars but whose star faded once the hitting began.

However, minicamp can also confirm certain talents that are evident when draft picks start wearing your team's uniform. Attentiveness and football intellect can be seen in meetings, while speed, quickness and playmaking ability show up between the lines.

For the Panthers, though, it did not take a trained eye to see the impact of some of the new players. The passing game in particular showed a quickness and speed that would make Wiley E. Coyote drool.

Those who have watched Appalachian State in recent years already knew of Armanti Edwards. But if you have not seen him in person, it is hard to appreciate his natural ability on reports alone.



Edwards has skills that cannot be taught - quickness, great hands, instinct. Now, he and the coaches will try to develop the acquired skills - route running, the art of catching and returning punts, etc.

Although he doesn't have the quickness of Steve Smith or Edwards, sixth-round choice David Gettis also brings speed to the wide receiver spot. At Baylor, he not only played football but ran track after recording the fastest time in the nation as a high school senior in the 400 meters.

Brandon LaFell possesses the kind of frame that should fit in well with the power running game and provides a big target for Carolina's Call to Arms.

It appeared the call was answered in the collection of strong, young arms that were on hand. Matt Moore has shown his when the opportunity to play has presented itself over the last three seasons. Hunter Cantwell brought arm strength as a rookie a year ago and has now refined it with improved technique. Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike gave indications of why they enjoyed success in college.

On defense, there were bright spots as well. Greg Hardy and Eric Norwood have the quickness and pass rushing ability that were cited when they were drafted. Both bring impressive sack totals from college, and the reasons why were apparent in minicamp.

Yes, drawing conclusions from minicamp may be premature, but that's no reason not to feel encouraged.

After all, it is the "Time of Good Feelings."

Charlie has been director of communications for the Panthers since 1994 and has been in the NFL since 1976.

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