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Grill Bill: Concerned about Cam Newton?

Cam-Newton-pensive

Website submission from Nate in Salisbury, NC: First, they say Cam could miss the season. Now it sounds like he may be OK. Should we be worried or not?

First, let’s be clear, no one said Newton could miss the season. Sure, a certain network spent a day speculating, but let’s chalk that up as some unfortunate, let’s say, miscommunication.

For now, I’m using the term cautiously optimistic. That’s what everyone – Newton, the Panthers and fans – should be.

To be fair, most of y’all should be commended for handling the surgery stuff appropriately. I assumed there would be a SKY IS FALLING feeling around here when the news dropped last week, but most seemed to understand there’s some comfort to take from the word arthroscopic. That’s a minimally invasive procedure, and a cleanup is a much better scenario than a repair.

As you’ve likely heard by now, Newton on Wednesday told an Atlanta radio station his shoulder is “good” and “better than I thought it would be.” My guess is he’ll be limited in the spring, but then ready to roll come training camp. That should elicit optimism, but I'd be cautious with enthusiasm. We still need to see Newton wing it like he was able to back in the day, and even if he’s able to through camp and early in the season, some will continue to wonder if that shoulder will hold up through an entire year until it does.

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Website submission from Steve in Cary, NC: How serious was the injury to Kyle Allen? Do you see him having a shot at making the team next year?

It wasn’t serious. He probably would’ve been able to play a week later if the Panthers had a game. Of course he has a shot to make it, but we don't yet know what kind of competition he’ll be facing.

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@bluespork _What do you think our absolute biggest draft need is? #KeepPounding

I know it’s #mockdraftszn, but I’m not gonna pretend I know this answer before seeing what the Panthers do in free agency.

Which leads to …

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Website submission from Dominic in Florence, AL: What position do you think would be better to go after in free agency this year for the team: Offensive line, Defensive line or the Secondary?

Yes?

Clearly, the Panthers could use some help on both lines, but for what it’s worth, this year’s free agent class looks to be much deeper on defense. The problem there is some of the better pending free agent ends could be franchise tagged, leaving slim pickings in March.

As far as the secondary goes, the Panthers likely need to fill at least one hole at safety – and it could be two if they can’t re-sign Eric Reid. Fortunately, there should be some good options available. How much they’ll want to spend for one or more of those options is another question.

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Website submission from Mark in Bodalla, NSW Australia: Hi Bill, I would like to know what your personal take is on Dontari Poe's first season as a Panther. From my observation and the stats, he didn't seem to get the penetration as an internal pass rusher (though was stout but not spectacular against the run).

Like everyone else on the D-Line, sure, Poe had a subpar season. But as we talk about all the time, stats don’t define his role.

Anyway, let’s play the stats game for a second and look at Poe’s year vs. Star Lotulelei’s in Buffalo:

  • Poe: 515 snaps, 17 tackles, 1.0 sack
  • Lotulelei: 475 snaps, 17 tackles, 0 sacks

So similar stats and Lotulelei made about $1.5 million more.

Regardless, I get folks want to see more big plays from Poe, who didn’t get much penetration as a pass rusher. But again, that’s not his main role. He took up space, and that’s what they needed him to do.

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@WILDPITCH28 Since the inception of the @Panthers in '95 they've been represented by at least 1 @FootballUGA player in every season. With the announcement that @ThomasDavisSDTM won't be back, this streak may come to an end. Can any other college boast this claim?

Great question that I took to David Monroe, the Panthers’ historical and alumni affairs manager.

By his records, Georgia was the lone dog thanks to the long runs of Davis and John Kasay. UNC and Auburn came close, but the closest was Mississippi. Ole Miss has had at least one player on the roster every year except 2017.

And now, the lightning round …

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@garttjames What’s up with Gano? Do you think we plan on bringing him back even with the knee injury + addition of Chandler?

Graham is under contract for three more seasons. Catanzaro is set to be an unrestricted free agent.

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@Eddieness What’s your favorite protein in a burrito?

I usually make that call when I get to the counter. Would guess ground beef is my most common order.

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@gscotty1964 Their's some good QB's in the CFL that are about to be free agents. Bo Levi Mitchell for one. Your thoughts on exploring the CFL for backup QB.

Armanti Edwards has had some good years up there lately ...

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@GambleLikeMe We play Rams next season, if they win, how many years in a row would that make us playing the defending champs? #GrillBill

Twenty, even though six of those were just preseason matchups.

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@Ausman8 Cart talk coming back next season?

Indeed. Probably took my foot off the pedal (get it?!? HAAHAHAAA!) a bit too much during the losing streak. Hope to do those more consistently in ’19.

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@bmerrilee _What’s the scoop on Byrd for next season?

Damiere has been intriguing when on the field. Of course, that’s the problem. Because he’s had such an issue staying healthy, I could see the Panthers declining to tender the upcoming restricted free agent.

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Website submission from Randall in Kumamoto, Japan: Who are you rooting for in the Superbowl after that NOLA-LA (official designation) finish?

I think most of us wouldn’t mind seeing someone new lifting the Lombardi.

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Website submission from Chad in Raleigh, NC: Hi, Bill. I know the London game has only just been announced, but do you know if the Panthers are planning to organize trips for fans who want to travel to London for the game? I remember in 2011 when the Carolina Hurricanes played in Helsinki, the team offered travel packages so that fans could stay at the same hotel and travel as a group while abroad. Do you think the Panthers will do something similar?

There will be some “official” packages, but they’re currently ironing out those logistics. Would imagine you’ll see more details as we get closer to the schedule release later this year.

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Website submission from Kenneth in Stuttgart, Germany: As an American Military Retiree living in Stuttgart, Germany, and a faithful Panthers fan since 1994, I definitely plan to watch the Panthers defeat the Buccaneers in London in 2019. Keep on Pounding

Thank you for your service and 🍻.

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