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Saturday, August 13, 2011
Observations on the Panthers

By Pat Yasinskas

Now we know for sure that John Fox no longer is coaching the Carolina Panthers.

If you saw their preseason opener (a 20-10 victory against the New York Giants) on Saturday night, there was plenty of evidence.

There was offensive creativity. There were passes to the tight end. Young quarterbacks were allowed to take shots down the field and not forced to play like each mistake would be their last. Oh, and we also saw quite a bit of Armanti Edwards.

All of the above were either illegal or heavily frowned up on in the Fox regime. Under Ron Rivera, they all are encouraged.

We still don’t know for sure if Cam Newton or Jimmy Clausen will open the season as the starting quarterback, but we do know whoever wins that competition might actually have a chance. Clausen and Carolina’s offense had no chance last season as Fox took conservative offense to a whole new level.

In new coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s system, it’s pretty obvious the Panthers are going to use their tight ends a lot and, once Steve Smith gets back from an injury, they could have a deep passing game.

Heck, Edwards could even be a part of the deep passing game. The wide receiver, who Fox refused to play as a rookie, caught a 36-yard pass from Newton to help set up a field goal late in the first half. More importantly, Edwards had two very impressive punt returns.

Some other observations on the Panthers.