I get many of you don’t want to hear this, but yes, they’re cool with who they have back there right now.
“How?” you ask as your hand slaps your forehead and you mumble something about Eric Reid and Tre Boston.
Well, they're confident in veterans Da’Norris Searcy and Mike Adams, who’s not getting younger but who coaches think will benefit with a year of their system under his belt.
Then there’s Rashaan Gaulden, whose biggest faults so far are not being named Ronnie Harrison and not having an “S” next to his name. If Gaulden was listed as a safety, I think the fan base would be more accepting of his role here. But make no mistake, the Panthers see Gaulden as a safety who can help them right away even though he played a lot of nickel in college.
And don’t forget about Demetrious Cox. They really liked what they saw out of him early last season until he suffered a high ankle sprain while playing a key role in the Week 4 win at New England.
I know you’ve heard “the answer’s on the roster” before, and to be clear, I’m not trying to assure you it is. But they think it could be, so right now, that’s the plan at safety.
You’ll have to beat back all the other teams lined up to sign him ...
Let’s package these next two together:
Website submission from Kyle in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom: With the signing of C.J. Anderson, is that a demotion to Christian McCaffrey or are we looking at using a two RB offence a lot more with the potential for both to have 1,000 yards next season?
Did anyone really think the Panthers were going forward with just McCaffrey, Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker? They were going to add someone of significance either by draft or free agency. When the draft didn’t work out, Anderson was a perfect Plan B. Shoot, they actually began talking to his people even before the draft.
So no, this isn’t a demotion of McCaffrey, who’s probably not a 1,000-yard rusher but who should eclipse 1,000 total yards again.
As far as Artis-Payne goes, the new offensive coaching staff gives him a clean slate, but it'd be a sizable leap of faith to believe he can carry the load. He was a gameday inactive for more than half of his first three seasons, and while you could argue with those coaches’ decisions, he clearly didn’t inspire enough confidence.
Artis-Payne still has a chance to carve out a more significant role, but it would’ve been too risky for the Panthers to place their power run game on the legs of a guy who averaged just 33 carries his first three seasons.
They started cutting back on how much they involved a fullback before Norv got here, and while he has use for one, I’m guessing he won’t be in a rush to go too old school there.
What could be interesting for Alex Armah is how much he’ll possibly be pushed by Elijah Hood, who may need to show he can help at fullback if he’s going to stick around.
I just think numbers in the 80s aren't cool these days. And 89 is off limits here.
Website submission from Cody in Marietta, GA: Which position battle are you most looking forward to? (RB, CB, or safety)?
Which leads to …
Answer 1: Amini Silatolu, Taylor Moton, Tyler Larsen and Jeremiah Sirles. And I need to change my tune on Moton. Even though they've been planning to give him a look at guard, I've thought his main role would remain at swing tackle in 2018. But after the board didn't fall their way at guard during the draft, plugging Moton into the Andrew Norwell vacancy may indeed be the best solution. Even if they have Silatolu with the first team during the spring, the job could be Moton's to win.
Answer 2: There is no true challenger. Matt Kalil is your left tackle.
Answer 3: 2015 and 2004.
Once since realignment in 2002. The NFC East did it in 2006 (Eagles, Cowboys, Giants) and 2007 (Cowboys, Giants, Redskins).
Before that, the last time it happened was when the AFC Eastern sent three teams to the postseason four times during a five-year stretch in the late 90s. That's when there were three divisions rather than four in each conference.
Samuel still isn’t doing everything during Phase 2 of OTAs, but he’s cutting now and looking really good. They were hoping for a full return by training camp, but maybe there will be some temptation to move that up a bit. We’ll see.
The answer to both parts of the second part of your question is yes.
I wanted to think of something witty but asked Google instead.
Here you go, class: