Strickly Panthers: Edwards shows his range

PITTSBURGH – It's commonly known as the "Wildcat," but the Panthers' coaching staff has given it a new name.

Still, from the perspective of rookie wide receiver Armanti Edwards, the "Mountaineer" has quite the familiar ring to it.

"It just felt like old times," said Edwards, a standout at quarterback with the Appalachian State Mountaineers. "Everything just seemed natural.

"We call it 'Mountaineer' here. I'll take whatever name they give it."

The Panthers lined Edwards up in the shotgun formation for a half-dozen plays in Thursday's 19-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He ran out of it twice, handed the ball off twice and threw a pair of passes.

The plays gained a total of 4 yards, but that's not the only way to measure the impact of Edwards' debut in the role.

"It's an area he's done before, and we wanted to take a peek at just a few plays that we put in this past week," head coach John Fox said. "That's what he was drafted to do. We had him in on kicks, punts, a little at quarterback and again at wide receiver.

"It gave us a lot of looks, a lot of opportunities to evaluate."

It also will give future opponents something else to think about.

The Panthers selected Edwards in the third round of the NFL draft to convert him to receiver, but at Appalachian State he became the only Division I player in NCAA history to throw for more than 10,000 yards and rush for more than 4,000.

"He can throw," said fellow rookie David Gettis, the recipient of a 6-yard pass from Edwards and the target on his other throw. "That's definitely something he can do."

Edwards showed off just about everything he can do against the Steelers. He caught two passes for 10 yards, including a 6-yard catch and run on a fourth-and-5 where it looked like he would be stopped short of the first-down marker.

He also got back into the return game. Edwards didn't see action in that area in the Panthers' previous game after contributing to two turnovers the game before, but Thursday he returned a punt 17 yards and a kickoff 22 yards.

"I didn't want it to end on the muffed punt I had the last time. It felt pretty good to get back there and have another chance," Edwards said. "I tried to concentrate throughout practice on punt returns, and I was waiting for another shot.

"I finally got it, and I executed."

Edwards got the job done, and yet it didn't feel like a job.

"It was real fun, getting to do different things," he said.

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