CHARLOTTE – The Panthers entered training camp looking to find a wide receiver to start opposite Steve Smith.
Two games into the regular season, they're still weighing their options.
"We're looking at different combinations. We've got a very young group there," head coach John Fox said. "We are trying to figure out who can play."
While Smith has eight catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns – accounting for both of Carolina's offensive touchdowns so far – the other four wide receivers on the roster have combined for six catches.
Rookie David Gettis, inactive for the season opener, had two catches for 18 yards in Sunday's home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fellow rookie Brandon LaFell was inactive with a hamstring injury versus Tampa Bay after catching two balls for 22 yards in the opener at the New York Giants.
"With the young guys, it's tough to get them enough reps," said quarterback Matt Moore, who started the first two games but will back up rookie Jimmy Clausen when the Cincinnati Bengals come to town Sunday. "They're brand new, so getting them reps, run or pass, is a big deal, and that's only going to benefit them.
"I'm sure David Gettis probably learned a lot (Sunday), and he did a lot of good things. I'm sure he'll also learn from the things he didn't do well. That's only going to benefit us as a team."
Dwayne Jarrett, the only wide receiver outside of Smith who entered the season with any experience of note, also is the only receiver besides Smith to be active for both games. Jarrett, however, didn't have a single pass thrown his way against the Buccaneers after he made two late catches for 40 yards at the Giants.
Jarrett played in a reserve role in each of the first two games, with a different rookie starting beside Smith in each.
"I had a good talk with Coach Fox; it's not a trust factor," said Jarrett, who admitted to being surprised that he didn't start. "I guess they're trying out some new things. They want to see some of the new guys, just find that right rotation. Hopefully, this week I can be in the starting lineup.
"In the NFL, it's about, 'What have you done for me lately?' You just have to keep pushing. Even if you have a good game this Sunday, next Sunday you have to have an even better game. It's always an uphill battle. You just have to keep a smile on your face and keep working hard."
The Panthers had just three wide receivers active against Tampa Bay.
Rookie Armanti Edwards, still learning the position after playing quarterback in college, wasn't active for either of the first two games, and the wideout spot -- not to mention special teams – has been hurt by a couple of injuries.
In the preseason, Wallace Wright – a special teams stalwart who had been making a push for playing time at wide receiver -- suffered a shoulder injury that put him on injured reserve. Last week, Charly Martin went on IR with a hamstring injury.
Still, regardless of injuries, inexperience or inconsistency at quarterback, the Panthers know they need a wide receiver beyond Smith to start making plays.
"There have been some definite situations where it would have been critical if we had made a catch or made a play or connected on a pass," Fox said. "Those are difference makers in a game."
|Other Wide Receivers||17||6||80||13.3||21||0|