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Sizing up the tight end situation


How do you see the tight end situation this year panning out behind Greg Olsen? Do you see Nelson Rosario coming on as a good second option and having a possible impact based on the fact that Ben Hartsock is mainly a blocking tight end and Gary Barnidge left in free agency? – Mark in Melbourne, Australia

Rosario, who spent his rookie season on the Panthers' practice squad, is an intriguing prospect that played wide receiver in college. As a senior at UCLA, he caught 64 passes for 1,161 yards. But it's too early to say if Rosario can thrive in the NFL, and it's too early to say if new offensive coordinator Mike Shula plans to design many pass plays for tight ends not named Olsen. Olsen caught 69 passes for 843 yards last season, but the other tight ends on the roster totaled eight catches in 2012. With the possibility that Shula will re-commit to the running game, the Panthers might not be built for a second tight end to put up significant receiving numbers. That's not to say that Rosario can't contribute, but it could speak volumes about the value of Hartsock and Richie Brockel.

What is your opinion about where Panthers players ranked on the NFL Network's top 100 list? – Avery in Rochester, N.H.

In case you missed it, wide receiver Steve Smith checked in at No. 84 on the list, one year after ranking 35th, and linebacker Luke Kuechly made his debut at No. 79 after leading the NFL in tackles as a rookie. The top 50 is still to be revealed.

Voters at have labeled both Smith and Kuechly as underrated, and I have to agree. At the same time, I'm not exactly getting worked up about it. The list comes from players' votes at the end of the season, when they are asked to rank their peers based on what they expect from them next season. The fact that the Panthers weren't in the mix for a playoff berth in the weeks leading up to the vote is undoubtedly a factor in the placement of Smith and Kuechly.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is on the list. He ranked No. 40 last year coming off his Rookie of the Year campaign.

Bryan, if you could select any Panthers player or coach to participate on any reality TV show, what player or coach would it be, what reality TV show and why? – Sarah in Charlotte

In the latest installment of Jordan Gross' highly entertaining podcast, "This is Gross," Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert reveals his aspiration to take his famed end zone moves to the set of "Dancing With the Stars." That would be must-see TV, but that's only scratching the surface.

I'd love to see center Ryan Kalil on "Big Brother" – along with younger brother Matt, of course. Former Oregon running backs Jonathan Stewart and Kenjon Barner make perfect sense as guest stars on "Duck Dynasty." Thomas Davis seems like a perfect fit for "Survivor."

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Luke Kuechly could be on "Hoarders" after piling up the most tackles in the NFL as a rookie. Opposing offensive linemen probably feel like defensive end Charles Johnson, who has 33 sacks over the last three seasons, belongs on "Fear Factor." Bookend defensive end Greg Hardy could have his own reality show.

When do tickets go on sale? I'm itching to get my hands on some. – Cornelius in Greensboro, N.C.

You can currently get your hands on a whole bunch of tickets – season tickets in fact – if you're interested in becoming a Permanent Seat License owner. If instead you're interested in getting in on the limited supply of single-game tickets, your chance is right around the corner. They go on sale via various Ticketmaster outlets this Saturday, but don't hesitate because they often sale out in short order.

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