Monday, August 3, 2009
Early impressions of the Panthers
By Pat Yasinskas
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Just finished interviews with some Carolina players, coaches and front-office staff. Some of that is for upcoming preview items that will be spread out over the next few weeks. But I wanted to share some quick observations from the first practice and the interviews with you now.
- The Panthers, understandably, are concerned about their depth at defensive tackle after the ankle injury to Maake Kemoeatu. We're waiting to hear on the severity of that. But it's not setting off panic just yet. The Panthers believe they can find a run-stuffing defensive tackle if they need to. Their thinking is that those guys are a lot easier to find than defensive ends. This is getting ahead of the game a bit, but they also believe ends Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson have the ability to slide to the inside on passing downs.
- Whatever defensive end Julius Peppers was doing while he was away from the team for most of the offseason was productive. Peppers appears to be in great shape and the feeling around camp is that he should have no trouble adjusting to new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks.
- There's a belief around camp that wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett is ready to step up after being quiet in his first two seasons. Jarrett got some first-team work in a few situations. He also is getting some mentoring. At one point, as backups were on the field, Jarrett was kneeling down with veterans Steve Smith on one side and Muhsin Muhammad. If Jarrett can take some wisdom from each, it could be a big help.
- Speaking of receivers, Jason Carter had a couple of nice catches. Carter appeared to have earned a roster spot last preseason before suffering an injury. With another good camp, Carter could end up as the fourth receiver.
- The best sight of the morning practice was the arrival of Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorensen a good friend and former co-worker. Tom's been battling some health issues, but he's on the way to winning.
- One rookie who's creating a buzz is fourth-round pick Mike Goodson. The rookie running back's speed flashed at several points Monday morning. Carolina's in great shape with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart as their first two running backs. But the Panthers believe Goodson brings another dimension and they're looking for ways to get him involved in the backfield and, maybe, as a slot receiver. They also think he can be a strong option as a kickoff returner.
- There's natural concern about offensive line depth after the departures of Geoff Hangartner and Frank Omiyale. But there's a belief within the organization that Mackenzy Bernadeau and Geoff Schwartz are young linemen who can develop into quality backups.
- The Panthers have another practice tonight. I'll be back with more on that later.