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Grill Bill: Underrated competition?


Website submission from Richard in Fayetteville, NC: Hey Bill, when the team gets to training camp we know people will be interested in the battle for left guard, but what other position battles will you be looking forward to? I think nickel corner and linebacker could be interesting.

Left guard and nickel, sure, but linebacker won't be all that exciting unless you're really interested in seeing if one of the late-round draft picks can hang on. The spot I'm not sure we've talked about enough is No. 2 corner. 

It's silly to put too much weight into how they're lining up during OTAs, but Kevon Seymour is seeing the bulk of reps with the starters. Second-round pick Donte Jackson is also getting some looks with that group while Ross Cockrell hasn't been getting as much run as many were probably assuming. 

Again, we've just turned the calendar to June, so there's a long way to go before questions like these are decided:

Will Jackson show enough in camp and the preseason to earn a starting spot by the opener? Is Seymour actually more of a threat to Captain Munnerlyn in the slot? If Jackson's not ready and they prefer Seymour at nickel, would Cockrell move up the ladder? 

The job across from James Bradberry is about as fluid as any other opening. 

A reminder: This time of year is mostly about what guys can retain from the classroom to the field, so I'd just be blowing a whole bunch of smoke if I tried to pretend either is doing much more than going through glorified walkthroughs. 

What I can tell you is Da'Norris Searcy is taking the vast majority of reps at free safety, and as he told me the other day, that's his gig "until somebody tells me different." 

Understandably, Rashaan Gaulden is “a little rusty” after spending so much time playing nickel at Tennessee. Once he better understands the system and gets to put pads on, he could threaten for snaps at safety. But we won't be able to start judging him until Spartanburg, at the earliest. 

Email from Peter: Hi Bill, first I would like to challenge Adam from your post two weeks ago, saying he is the biggest fan in Germany. :) Besides watching every single game, preseason, draft, etc. live, no matter what time it is, I travel to Charlotte every year to see a home game and in most years an away game as well. Now on to my question: Is Matt Kalil the long-term solution at left tackle or will we draft an LT in the next one to two years? Thanks.

First, I'm not sure much of the fan base in the States realizes how many Panthers fans live elsewhere. It's pretty cool when you dig into web and social media analytics. 

Now, about Kalil: I get he's a popular punching bag, but folks inside the building are excited about where he's at right now. Namely, he's healthy. Yeah, you heard that last year when he was coming off hip surgery. But that's the point. He spent the majority of last offseason rehabbing. 

I chatted with Kalil for a while on Thursday, and he said the difference in where he's at a year later is "night and day" since he's been able to ditch the training room for the weight room. Give him a little longer before eyeing future drafts. 

Website submission from Mark in New South Wales, Australia: Hi Bill from Down Under! Would like to know what you think Cam Newton's *stats will be for this season? Personally, I think there will be just as much play action and read option as under Mike Shula so he will end up running just as much. Keen to know your thoughts. Cheers.*

Grill Bill's gone worldwide. Obviously. 

I'm not a big stats predictor, but sure, I don't think something like the read option is going to disappear. It's a nice weapon to have. It would be nice if Newton doesn't again have to make up so much of the run game, though. 

Here's what I'll say about the "new" offense: I think we need to remember what Ron Rivera says whenever he's asked about it. The system they began running in 2011 had Norv Turner's fingerprints all over it. So with Turner now in charge, it's not like they've had to change a whole bunch of concepts. What you'll probably get is more attention to the run game than in the two years Rob Chudzinski was around and more recognition of mismatches than you saw in the Mike Shula era. 

Yeah, Derek Anderson won two spot starts in 2014, but any prolonged injury to Newton would probably ruin a season regardless of his backup. More than likely, the best case scenario is what Green Bay got last year when Brett Hundley kept the Packers in the playoff hunt. Barely. 

Recency bias may make this more of a thing since Nick Foles came off the bench to win a Super Bowl for the Eagles, but there's a reason they make movies out of stories like that. So it's a notable opening, but I would put it way down the list of concerns.

Plus, the answer may be on the roster:

Website submission from Ezell in Albuquerque, NM: Do you think we will have a decent answer at the left guard position before the season starts?

I think this spot's going to come down to whether Taylor Moton can win the gig. If not, Tyler Larsen may be the guy they'd trust most there. All the options come with question marks, though, so it's unlikely the fan base will be completely convinced come Week 1. But that's not some final cutoff.  

Remember, Andrew Norwell wasn't even active the first six weeks of his rookie year. Perhaps a guy like undrafted free agent Brendan Mahon is a similar diamond in the rough that just needs some shine. 

Onto the lightning round ... 

Sometime in July when the sale officially closes. And I don't think he's giving up his other job, so I imagine he'll rack up many air miles between Charlotte and Appaloosa headquarters in Miami. 

Website submission from Jane in Cary, NC: I'm suffering through the offseason. There's golf on TV on Sundays for Pete's sake. What are they thinking?

At least Tiger is playing every once in a while?

Woah, let's slow down some. Assuming he makes the team? That's a long road ahead. 

So this is what I wrote last Thursday afternoon: "The Cavs can maybe get one game." Wasn't all that witty or bold, I know. Then Game 1 happened, and now I don't know what to expect.

Cleveland could certainly crumble after that crushing finish, but LeBron is otherwordly at the moment, so maybe this series won't be as lopsided as it appeared? 

That's some attention to detail. You must listen to the Panthers Podcast

Nice guess for mine, but that's so 2005. And the first rule of burner accounts is you don't admit you have a burner account. Duh. 

Email from John: Who's winning the Drake/Pusha T beef?

I know this will come as a shock to many, but that's a bit out of my lane. So I took it to my pop culture authority, Astasia Williams of our social media team. 


"Drake will essentially win the war because of his popularity. But Pusha T is going to win a couple battles because he's digging deep and hitting Drake where it hurts. We are in for a nice rap battle. It's definitely going to be a Surgical Summer for the 6God."


If you know you know.

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