NFC South: Chad Johnson

Yep, I know I wrote Saturday in a mailbag that I don’t see veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey joining the Carolina Panthers. And, yes, I know it was reported late Saturday night that the Panthers are bringing Shockey in for a physical.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Shockey
Mitch Stringer/US PresswireTight end Jeremy Shockey had 41 catches and three touchdowns last season with New Orleans.
I could end up being wrong, but I’m sticking with my original statement. The Panthers will bring Shockey in for a physical, but I really don’t see it turning into a contract.

I’m basing this on what I know of Shockey, who spent the past few seasons in the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints. I’m also basing this largely on what I know about how the Panthers think.

Now, I know they’ve got a new coach in Ron Rivera and a new offensive coordinator in Rob Chudzinski. Rivera has been open about saying the Panthers need a pass-catching tight end, and Chuzdkinski was an assistant at the University of Miami when Shockey was there.

Situations like that often times are reason enough for courtesy visits, and this might be nothing more than that. It also could be an exploratory physical, just to find out where Shockey’s health stands (it has been a question much of his career), so the Panthers have an idea as they go through the process of looking at all the options for a pass-catching tight end.

Shockey reportedly passed a physical with the Dolphins, and I can see him in Miami a lot easier than I can see him in Carolina. Again, I think the new-age Panthers simply might be doing some homework on a guy who at least one of their coaches has some ties to. Besides, the Panthers would have to do something before the end of the day March 3, because a lockout is expected March 4. If there is a lockout, no players, can be signed until the labor situation is resolved.

But it’s the old-school Panthers that make it tough for me to see this developing into anything of substance. I’m talking about owner Jerry Richardson and general manager Marty Hurney. Unless they’ve undergone sudden personality changes or handed total control of the team to Rivera (and I don’t think that’s the case), signing Shockey simply doesn’t fit their style.

Hurney and Richardson started a youth movement last season, and Shockey, 30, doesn’t fit that profile. He has more wear and tear on his body than most 30-year-olds, and hasn’t been as productive as he was in recent seasons. I’d even make the argument that if you took current Carolina tight ends Jeff King and Dante Rosario and put them in a tight-end-friendly offense, they’d be more productive than Shockey.

I think the Panthers get their tight end somewhere else in free agency or the draft. There are a lot of other reasons why Shockey doesn’t fit the profile of Richardson and Hurney. First off, he’s flamboyant, and flamboyant generally doesn’t fly with Fox and Hurney. Second, although Shockey behaved (other than some hydration issues) in New Orleans, I think that was only because he knew better than to challenge quarterback Drew Brees.

In his days with the New York Giants, Shockey flat-out abused quarterback Eli Manning, who doesn’t have the locker-room control Brees does. Shockey was constantly calling for the ball and steamrolling Manning.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Panthers don’t have any quarterbacks right now who command respect. Maybe they bring in a Donovan McNabb or a Carson Palmer and that changes. Even those veterans have been pushed around in the past, McNabb by Terrell Owens and Palmer by Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson.

But, unless the Panthers trade receiver Steve Smith, they already have one very strong-willed pass catcher. Smith openly clashed with rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen last season. Smith also doesn’t have a history of being real generous when it comes to sharing the spotlight or the ball.

The season he and equally flamboyant Keyshawn Johnson were together was a disaster on and off the field. In the locker room, Smith shot dirty looks at reporters when they talked to Johnson, and it also worked in reverse. When Smith was paired with young receivers like Dwayne Jarrett and Keary Colbert, he walked all over them and was probably part of the reason they were busts.

Putting Smith and Shockey in the same locker room and on the same field has all sorts of downside potential. Even if Smith goes in a trade, I just don’t see this happening, knowing what I know about Richardson and Hurney. At best, Shockey would be nothing more than a short-term fix. At worst, he wouldn’t add much on the field, and could be a distraction off it. Besides, I think if Shockey has any real choice between the Dolphins and Panthers, the night life in Miami and Charlotte becomes a factor, and South Beach has a big edge there.

But maybe I’ll end up being wrong. Maybe Rivera and Chudzinski have more power than previous coach John Fox, and maybe they can convince the owner and the general manager to stop being conservative and take a chance. But I seriously doubt it.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

As the Terrell Owens saga takes another turn with his release by Dallas, I'm reminded of a fascinating psychological profile of wide receivers I stumbled across a few years ago.

The profile actually goes back way earlier than that, but it holds remarkably true. In 1973, Arnold J. Mandell worked as a team psychiatrist for the San Diego Chargers. Coach Harland Savard asked Mandell to come up with personality profiles for the different position groups.

Mandell took a unique approach. He collected handwriting samples from all the Chargers and the entire class of rookies around the league in 1973. He worked with a handwriting analyst and also observed players closely. Mandell came up with personality profiles for every position group and I can see some truths in every one of them.

But Mandell especially nailed it in his personality profile on wide receivers.

"The wide receiver is a very special human being," Mandell wrote. "He shares many features with actors and movie stars. He is narcissistic and vain and basically a loner."

Yeah, you never want to stereotype. But think about that a little bit. Every great wide receiver fits to some degree.

Owens, Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, Steve Smith, Joe Horn, Keyshawn Johnson? They've all got it. Think even further back to guys like Michael Irvin, Otis Taylor, Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. They had it, too. You can argue about guys like Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice. But talk to people who've been around them and they'll tell you they've got a touch of the wide receiver traits, but they're just better at hiding them. It's also part of what makes them great.

(Read full post)

Bengals-Saints update

August, 23, 2008
8/23/08
9:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals and New Orleans Saints are at halftime with the Saints leading 10-0.

Since it's the third preseason game for both teams, the starters played the first half. Here are some highlights:

  • Cincinnati's first-team offense struggled for the second straight week. The unit came in with a four-possession scoreless streak that reached nine in the first half tonight. The Bengals were without tailback Rudi Johnson (hamstring) and starting receivers Chad Johnson (shoulder) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hamstring), and it hurt. None of the replacements stepped up for Cincinnati.
  • New Orleans also picked apart Cincinnati's pass defense. Saints quarterback Drew Brees had a good first half, completing 14-of-22 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown in the period. The biggest play was a 54-yard bomb to receiver Robert Meachem and a 35-yard pass to Lance Moore.
  • Part of the reason Brees was so successful in the first half was because the Bengals lacked a pass rush. The Bengals have zero sacks in the first half and on several passing downs Brees was able to sit in the pocket and wait for someone to get open.
  • Former Bengals safety Kevin Kaesviharn has played well so far. He had two sacks of Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. His second sack bloodied Palmer's nose just before halftime.

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