Grill Bill: New 'Smash and Dash'?

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Website submission from Mark in Charlotte: Could Christian McCaffrey and C.J. Anderson be Carolina's new smash and dash duo?!

Even though former Titans running backs LenDale White and Chris Johnson were 'Smash and Dash,' this lets me address something I don’t think we’ve talked about enough the past few months.

At 5-foot-8, 224 pounds, Anderson is built for a downhill run game. But as Ron Rivera told me this week:

“C.J.’s much more than that. I think there's a huge (misperception) to who he is as a football player, which is fine with us.”

What Rivera’s referencing is something we saw early in the second half of the preseason opener when Anderson scooted through the middle of the Bills defense for a 15-yard reception. He’s got great hands, as evidenced by his 103 catches the past four years. That’s nearly double what Jonathan Stewart totaled in the same time frame. So Anderson is an added dimension compared to Newton’s former power back. That’s vital when you remember how badly the Panthers want Newton to get the ball out quicker.

Really, all of this was foreshadowed at February's combine when Rivera said:

“I wouldn’t say you need to have a guy like Jonathan. You go back and look at what (Norv Turner) did with LaDainian (Tomlinson), what he had with Frank Gore when he was in San Francisco – he’s had dynamic guys that are multi-faceted. They can run the ball inside and outside; they can catch the ball out of the backfield and pass protect.”

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@jamesburrow23 Do you anticipate Artis-Payne making the roster? I know one preseason game is a limited sampling size but CJ Anderson impressed early, are their skill sets too similar? Also, besides R.E.S.P.E.C.T what's the next greatest Aretha Franklin song?

The Panthers still want to give Artis-Payne a good look this preseason. That’s why he was out there before Anderson in Buffalo. But Anderson was the better back that night, and as I mentioned above, gives the offense an added dimension. Sure, Artis-Payne has barely played the past three years, but he has just seven receptions in 23 games.

To answer your initial question, as of today, I think he still has a place on the roster.

The answer to your second is “Chain of Fools.”

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Website submission from Morgan in Jacksonville, N.C.: Is the slot receiver Jarius Wright’s job to lose or is DJ Moore the projected favorite?

It’s not one or the other.

The Panthers are asking Moore to learn all three receiver spots, which had him swimming early in camp. He’s doing better now, but the point is they want him to line up not just in the slot but all over the field.

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@rocklobster88 _Has Samuel started to look more comfortable?

Absolutely.

As we watched the Panthers bring in Moore, Wright and Torrey Smith this offseason, it became clear they weren’t putting too many of their eggs in the Curtis Samuel basket. That would have been silly considering his inexperience and injury-filled rookie year. So it’s almost like whatever they get out of him is a bonus. And it could be a big bonus.

Samuel’s speed is still there, which is important to note since he didn’t just break his ankle last fall. He also damaged a ligament. That’s not an injury speedsters are guaranteed to come back from.

But Samuel had a great camp and provided glimpses of the separation the Panthers severely missed from their wideouts in 2017. His hands are a work in progress, though. He needs to trust them more.

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@baeuerpower What players in your opinion are most likely on the roster bubble at this time? Any hope for some of the 2017 draft class?

Samuel’s a great segue into this question. Let’s just make it about those guys from 2017.

I see defensive end Daeshon Hall and cornerback Corn Elder firmly on the bubble. But the rest of the class may be shaping up to be better than we’ve assumed (and that doesn’t include Harrison Butker, who was clearly a good pick).

McCaffrey, Taylor Moton and Alex Armah are starters. Sure, Armah’s a slight stretch since he’s a fullback, but they’re really excited about his development.

Anyway, a general rule of thumb is you want at least three starters from a draft. There’s three. Add in what they may get from Samuel and that class isn’t looking all that bad.

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Website submission from Will in Statesville, NC: With all this talk about Cam's completion rate, does anyone have any idea how many passes were dropped? I have watched a lot of football over the years and I think he has had more drops than most great quarterbacks.

This is a common refrain in markets with elite quarterbacks, so let’s dig into it. Well, as much as we can with an unofficial stat.

According to the Washington Post, the Panthers had 16 drops last year. That tied for the 8th fewest.

According to Sporting Charts, here's where the Panthers finished in drops (ranked from most to least) in Newton’s other seasons:

2011 – t20th (26)

2012 – 29th (20)

2013 – 23rd (21)

2014 – t15th (24)

2015 – t14th (23)

2016 – t15th (21)

Granted, the Panthers don’t throw as much as some other teams, so drop percentage is perhaps a fairer number. But the only time they’ve finished with a top-10 worst drop percentage during the Newton era was when they landed at No. 8 in 2015 – Newton’s MVP season.

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Website submission from Dave in Charleston, S.C.: As a high school track & field coach, I am constantly trying to convince our football players that track & field will help improve explosiveness, speed, endurance, and technique. I would love to use examples from my favorite NFL team! Any idea which Panthers were track athletes in HS and/or college?

This is very much an incomplete list, but Damiere Byrd, Donte Jackson and Rashaan Gaulden all ran some track. According to Wikipedia, so did Greg Olsen:

“Olsen competed in the throwing events and as a sprinter. He recorded a personal-best time of 11.40 seconds in the 100 meters. He placed 2nd in the shot put event at the 2003 NJSIAA Meet of Champions, recording a career-best throw of 18.03 meters. He also had top-throws of 46.63 meters in the discus throw and 59.83 meters in the javelin throw.”

And now … the lightning round:

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@elukejiv Has anyone mentioned they should change the shield at midfield to the @panthers logo?

Haven’t heard a peep from anyone ever. But I have seen renderings of this possibility:

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@WesleyWarren5 Is it okay to dip Doritos in ketchup? What about putting ketchup on mac-n-cheese?

Gross.

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Website submission from Christian in Clemmons, N.C.: Good evening Bill. Should the Panthers try to sign another DB? Possibly try Bashaud Breeland again?

I could see them looking to improve the secondary’s depth come final cuts, but as has been the case since mid-March, Breeland isn’t an option.

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@OhN00000 If you could do a Cart Talk episode with any (non-Panther) NFL player, who would it be?

Josh Norman.

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@Jcotch82 Do you think we will be more creative with our uniform sets this year? (Wearing black on black or black on blue, etc.)

I’m not on the uniform beat, but it sure seems like they’re ready to experiment again:

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