@OgiDav With Curtis Samuel out for the time being - who do you see stepping up behind Greg and Funch as one of Cam's long ball targets?
Even before Samuel splashed back onto the scene the past few weeks, Torrey Smith was the deep threat they had in mind. Obviously, those two produced different results in the preseason, but IT WAS THE PRESEASON.
As Max Henson pointed out last week, Smith hasn't been a big exhibition guy for a while. His one catch this preseason was actually right on his average of the past three.
I know there are many out there who have already seen enough of Smith and would rather have his cap space. Well, maybe I'm old fashioned, but I'm at least willing to get into the regular season to see if Lance Taylor was onto something when the wideout coach said:
"Torrey had a phenomenal camp – may have had the best camp of any receiver in our group from Day One until now."
My bigger concern is Cam Newton's deep ball accuracy. I can remember him completing only one go route all spring and summer – a one-handed catch by Smith during a 7-on-7 drill in Spartanburg.
Because of Newton's shoulder surgery, his downfield attempts last year were a) limited and b) not all that close to intended targets. So we haven't seen much of a vertical game out of him since he was hooking up with Ted Ginn Jr. in 2016.
I'm not saying Newton can't make those throws now. It's just a part of his game he needs to find again, especially in Norv Turner's offense. And to me, best case scenario for the Panthers is Smith will be Newton's new Ginn-like connection. What Samuel provides beyond that is gravy.
@carteer716 even when Curtis comes back, are we likely to keep all 6 receivers active on game day?
Six can be done, but that's a lot.
My guess is if all are available, they'll dress only five with Damiere Byrd as the odd guy out.
@CoolGuyDom10 Which rookie are you most excited to see play on Sunday and which one will have a breakout game?
Clearly, DJ Moore has the biggest "breakout" potential. But like Newton's vertical game, I'm not comfortable predicting it until we see signs of it.
So I'll go with cornerback Donte Jackson since he's the only rookie who's scheduled to see 100 percent of his unit's snaps.
Website submission from Larry in Denver, NC: Hey Bill. I'm confused. I was under the impression the Panthers signed C.J. Anderson to replace Jonathan Stewart as the Panthers feature back. If the preseason is an indicator, Christian McCaffrey is the feature back and C.J. Anderson will guard the Gatorade. What's the deal? McCaffrey is an important versatile weapon and a tough kid, but using him as an every-down halfback doesn't make sense to me. If the Panthers plan on using him in the regular season like they did in the preseason, I think they are needlessly exposing him to injury and will eventually shorten his career. He is great in space and a finesse runner but not a power runner with yards after contact. I would like to see him utilized like last year only with more touches. The Cowboys front seven is no joke, and with our patchwork offensive line, I don't like the idea of McCaffrey doing a lot of running between the tackles. If he gets hurt, last one out get the lights.
This is a tricky one because I again want to scream IT WAS THE PRESEASON. That's why I think Anderson saw so few attempts. They know he can play, and I don't see any way he's not a big part of the offense. The counterargument is why'd they then give McCaffrey so many touches?
I don't have an answer for that, but I can share this from Pro Football Focus:
"In the 2017 preseason, running back Christian McCaffrey rushed the ball 17 times and managed just 29 yards after contact, at an average of just 1.71 yards after contact per attempt. This preseason, however, McCaffrey rushed the ball 21 times and racked up 131 yards after contact at an average 6.24 yards after contact per attempt. The difference of 4.53 yards is the biggest among running backs who logged at least five rushing attempts in each of the last two preseasons."
Yes, we're talking PRESEASON, but perhaps there is something to McCaffrey's muscle gain that will make him better after contact than you're assuming. Deep breaths, Larry.
Email from Tyler: Hey Bill, I was wondering who are some players on the team that are considered "players to watch" this year? In other words, backups who you think could make an impact on game days when they receive playing time.
Since I just touched on Anderson, I'll start with him. He could go neck-and-neck with Dontari Poe as the best offseason signing, especially considering they locked down Anderson in May.
Two others: Defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. could turn into a building block for the post-Julius Peppers years, and undrafted rookie Brendan Mahon could shine on the offensive line if he's pushed into action.
@ShaneInPR The uniform combinations and logo challenge have been big hits for Tepper to fire up the fan base. Do you see any other ways he could/will continue to positively change the culture in the short term?
There are so many things coming, but most are long-term projects. Here's one for now, as Tepper tries to up the pregame atmosphere around the stadium.
Website submission from Francisco in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico: Desde hace 3 ó 4 años he seguido a las panteras por radio en español. En mi ciudad Xalapa, Veracruz se jugó el primer partido de futbol americano en México creo en 1896. Aquí en mi ciudad y en Puebla se juega mucho el futbol americano. Ojalá algún día las panteras vengan a jugar a México. KEEP POUNDING.
Esta es mi primera pregunta Grill Bill de México. Es bueno saber de usted, Francisco. Creo que el nuevo régimen querrá hacer crecer la base de admiradores internacionales de los Panthers, así que tal vez un día lleguen a su patio trasero.
And now … the lightning round:
@PPoundcast Do you like our billboard on 77?
Sure. And I agree with the sentiment.
@ceffious When will the logo be painted on at midfield?
Website submission from Dave in Charleston, SC: I'm really enjoying getting to know who Torrey Smith is and what he stands for. The more I read & watch, the more I like him (both on the field and in the community!). Any chance his #schoolsnotprisons shirts are available?? I'd love to have one to wear to teach/coach in!
Yup, all the shirts the players have been wearing are now available here on the Players Coalition website.
@MRCKLWhat character from the office are you_
Tim from the BBC series, aka the OG that's 10 times better than the U.S. version.
@OnlyRayWallace I can't argue about any of the picks for Team Captains this year. Why wasn't Captain Munnerlyn named? He has shown real leadership on the back end of the defense, showing the rookies what it takes to get better every day. Maybe it's 'cause he's been a Captain all his life.
@NinoComparison Sir Purr Cart Talk? How can we make that happen?
The idea has been kicked around, and I imagine we'll reach out to his people sometime this season.
@Eddieness Random question, forgive me if it makes no sense. Are McDermott and Wilks really poaching Carolina cast offs at a hilariously high rate, or is it fairly normal and it just seems that way because we happen to be paying attention?
Website submission from David in Clayton, NC: Eastern or Western Carolina BBQ?
And finally, here's a follow-up from a previous request from one of our servicemen overseas:
Hi Bill, thank you for the packet it is awesome!! Here is the picture of myself and MSG Joyer Williams of the 1TSC SPO Mobility here in Kuwait. We are standing in front of our logo holding the Panthers Flag Proudly. Thank you again Bill and we look forward to another great year. Keep Pounding and Go Panthers!!! Dereck D. Fulton