NFC South: Brian Folkerts

Panthers Camp Report: Day 10

August, 5, 2014
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Carolina Panthers training camp from Wofford College:
  • You've read this before, but I keep repeating it because it keeps happening. Rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin had another big day, catching two touchdown passes on the left side. Both were high, and both required the 6-foot-5 receiver to adjust his body in midair. I haven't seen Benjamin drop a pass in team drills, and nobody else I've spoken with has, either. He wasn't perfect on Tuesday, though. On what was supposed to be an alley-oop pass near the goal line he apparently didn't run the route correctly, forcing Cam Newton to look for another receiver. It resulted in an incompletion. Newton and wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl immediately spoke to Benjamin about it, demonstrating the kind of communication and chemistry that has been strong.
  • Speaking of Newton, long-time NFL talent evaluator Gil Brandt said Newton threw the ball Tuesday "as well as I've ever seen him." So for all those that predicted the three-plus months Newton missed while rehabilitating left ankle surgery would impact his timing in training camp, forget it. Newton has had moments where he's been off, but every quarterback does. For the most part he's been sharp.
  • Byron Bell literally got a leg up on the competition for the left tackle job because his primary competition, Nate Chandler, was out with a minor knee issue. Coach Ron Rivera said Chandler should be back on Wednesday, but it's starting to look like Bell will win the job. With Chandler out, Garry Williams stepped in at right tackle and did a nice job. Other key players among the 12 who missed practice with injuries were defensive end Charles Johnson (hamstring), running backs Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) and Kenjon Barner (back), and free safety Roman Harper (toe). Stewart hasn't practiced since camp started and will be evaluated again on Wednesday, but Rivera said he ran well on Tuesday. The team is being cautious with Harper so he doesn't develop turf toe. Defensive end Greg Hardy (shoulder) returned to practice after missing the last two.
  • Charles Godfrey opened as the starting nickel back over rookie Bene' Benwikere and was immediately beaten on a corner route by Benjamin. He later came back and made a good read on a pass over the middle, but dropped what should have been an interception. It appears if Godfrey is to help this team it will be at the nickel and not as an every down corner.
  • I asked Rivera to name a few players who have practiced well but not gotten the recognition that some of the high-profile players have. He started with undrafted wide receiver Marcus Lucas out of Missouri. He also mentioned backup center Brian Folkerts, referring to his nickname of "Caveman Center" with a story I'll share at a later date. He also likes what backup defensive end Mario Addison and backup safety Colin Jones have done.
  • The Panthers practice Wednesday at 9:25 a.m.
The New Orleans Saints obviously are happy with what they have seen so far out of rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.

That became evident Monday as the team announced it has released veteran defensive tackle Remi Ayodele. It’s pretty obvious the Saints plan to use Hicks and Tom Johnson as the backups in the rotation behind starters Sedrick Ellis and Brodrick Bunkley. The Saints initially had brought Ayodele back to New Orleans as insurance in case Hicks, who played his college football in Canada, did not develop quickly.

Ayodele joined the Saints in 2008 and started 29 games over three seasons. He left for Minnesota as a free agent last year, but was re-signed by New Orleans in free agency.

Ayodele was the biggest name on the list of transactions made by the Saints to get down to the 75-player limit. The only other veteran released Monday was quarterback Luke McCown. He had been signed during the offseason before the Saints and starter Drew Brees were able to work out a new contract. The Saints are set with Brees and Chase Daniel as their top two quarterbacks. Sean Canfield remains on the roster for now, but the Saints often have carried only two quarterbacks on the roster in recent seasons.

The Saints also waived linebacker Aaron Tevis, center Brian Folkerts, tight end Jake Byrne, safety Johnny Thomas, receiver Derek Moye, guard Paul Fenaroli, tackle Hutch Eckerson, defensive end Donovan Robinson, receiver Kevin Hardy, cornerback Kamaal McIlwain, defensive tackle Swanson Miller, cornerback Cord Parks and receiver Marques Clark.
If I had to pick one undrafted rookie to make an NFC South roster right now, it would be Tampa Bay offensive lineman Desmond Wynn.

That’s because the Bucs obviously thought very highly of Wynn when they signed him. I just got a look at the contract details for all the NFC South undrafted rookie free agents and Wynn’s $15,000 signing bonus was easily the highest. That might have something to do with the fact Wynn played for coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers.

A lot of undrafted rookies got a signing bonus of $1,000 or $2,000 and a fair amount got no signing bonus at all. But, as he’s been known to do at times in the past, Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik handed out several signing bonuses that were well above the league average. Offensive lineman Bradley Sowell got $10,000, offensive lineman Mike VanDerMeulen got $8,000, cornerback Leonard Johnson got $7,500, safety Tramain Thomas got $7,000 and fullback Cody Johnson got $5,000.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the division and see which other undrafted rookies got at least $5,000 to sign.

The Falcons gave out only one signing bonus of $5,000 and that went to defensive end Louis Nzegwu.

The Saints gave running back Travaris Cadet, offensive lineman Brian Folkerts, offensive lineman Aderious Simmons and safety Johnny Thomas each a $5,000 signing bonus.

The Panthers gave receivers Jared Green and Rico Wallace each $7,500. Defensive tackle Nate Chandler got $6,000. Offensive linemen Will Blackwell and Matt Reynolds each signed for $5,000.

Saints add 18 undrafted rookies

April, 30, 2012
The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms with 18 undrafted rookie free agents.

Here’s the list:
  • Jacob Byrne TE Wisconsin
  • Adrian Davis DB Jacksonville State
  • Chris Givens WR Miami (OH)
  • Tyrunn Walker DE/DT Tulsa