Welcome to the inaugural edition of Grill Bill.
Yes, the title is a take on "Ask (insert name)" Q&A columns, but hopefully this will eventually morph into something more conversational. And while football will obviously be the focus, we can also be a bit irreverent with questions like the opener.
Before Friday morning, I was a staunch "a hot dog is NOT a sandwich" truther. My argument was simple: You need two pieces of bread to make a sandwich, hence, a hot dog plus a bun does not equal a sandwich.
But then, I had an enlightening conversation with Panthers communications assistant Preston Edwards. Caught on audio, you'll hear poor Preston on the ropes trying to make a valid argument for his "a hot dog IS a sandwich" side." The whippersnapper came out of nowhere with a right hook, though, and my previous firm belief on this subject is now waning.
With the important hot dog query addressed, I suppose we should get into a good question about the Panthers.
When making up a 53-man roster, decisions aren't made in position group silos. Running backs, and especially fullbacks, are connected to tight ends and receivers. An extra spot could also come from whether a team carries a third quarterback. So if the Panthers keep a fullback, it'll have less to do with a guy like Artis-Payne and more about how numbers shake out between multiple position groups.
As far as fullbacks go, I know many of you have been intrigued by Alex Armah, but he's more of a practice squad product right now. Darrel Young, meanwhile, impressed on special teams in the preseason opener, and while he's had fewer opportunities on offense this summer than Mike Tolbert had the past few years, Young's reps have increased lately. As long as the Panthers keep just three tight ends, Young should have a spot.
Artis-Payne may be trickier, even though he's pleased coaches the past few months. To keep him on the roster, the Panthers may have to carry just five wideouts. Or a number could come from elsewhere. Either way, while this stuff is fun for fans to try to piece together right now, there's still plenty that needs to play out over the next couple of weeks.
This is easier to answer than the question above.
I'm gonna go with Russell Shepard.
Not just because they're still waiting on Curtis Samuel, but Shepard has been a favorite target of both Cam Newton and Derek Anderson this spring and summer, and for what it's worth, his special teams ability means he'll always have a jersey on game day.
I wasn't a math major, but I can handle this.
Peppers' sacks over the past four years:
2016 (7.5) + 2015 (10.5) + 2014 (7.0) + 2013 (7.0) = 32 / 4 = 8.0
So I'll go waaaaay out on a limb and say his new-ish setting in Carolina will = a push.
If you're offering to make me dinner yet again, Darin, I guess I'll say whichever one gives you a better chance of yet again overcooking everything.
Email from Parker: With Samuel hurt does Byrd become the go to vertical option day one?
IMO, the Panthers' biggest need on offense right now is someone who can stretch a defense like Ted Ginn Jr. It was just a preseason game, but Byrd flashed that ability last week.
And it's not just about getting vertical.
The Panthers need someone who can create separation with short and intermediate routes, which is why Byrd's second touchdown against the Texans was perhaps even more important than his first.
Also, don't sleep on Kaelin Clay. Despite his ill-advised spike Thursday, the third-year speedster has caught the coaches' attention. If six receivers stick, Clay's quickness could supersede Brenton Bersin's dependability.
Even before Dean Marlowe was lost for the season, many of you were rightfully concerned about safety depth. So, sure, the Panthers are and will continue to look at what else is out there. But for now, Dezmen Southward and L.J. McCray are making arguments to stick around.
They're both mostly playing strong safety, but Southward can also play free. McCray, though, is the better special teams player. And Damian Parms, who was added to the roster late last month, isn't out of it. Essentially, this spot is still too close to call.
Email from Charles: Nas or Jay-Z?
Because I'm not at all cool, it probably won't shock you when I say this is a bit out of my lane. But I'll give it a go.
Nas is one of the most talented lyricists of his generation, but I'm going to say Jay-Z because of his business acumen.
Nas is a tremendous talent. Jay-Z is worldwide.