NFC South: Jason Carter

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.

Panthers bring back WR Carter

April, 6, 2009
4/06/09
7:43
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Carolina Panthers have re-signed wide receiver Jason Carter.

He was one of the restricted free agents the Panthers did not make a tender to before the start of free agency. Carter was having a strong 2008 preseason and had a shot to make the team. But a knee injury put an end to his season.

Panthers scrambling for help at WR

August, 26, 2008
8/26/08
2:16
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

What looked like a position of strength for the Carolina Panthers at the start of training camp suddenly has turned into a huge question mark.

The Panthers suddenly are scrambling for wide receivers, signing Samie Parker on Tuesday. The amazing thing is Parker, who was cut Monday by Denver, actually has a chance to start -- or at least play a significant role -- on opening day. That's not a tribute to Parker, who did have some bright moments in his Kansas City days and can return punts.

Instead, it's an illustration of the plight the Panthers are in at wide receiver. Steve Smith, the team's best receiver, is suspended for the first two regular-season games after a training camp fight with Ken Lucas.

D.J. Hackett, who was signed as a free agent and was supposed to contend for a starting job, has missed most of the preseason with a toe injury. Ryne Robinson, who the Panthers were hoping could be their fifth receiver and primary return man, has been out with a knee injury. It's not known yet if Hackett or Robinson will be healthy in time for the start of the regular season, and Parker's arrival is a sign they may not. The Panthers also lost Jason Carter, who had shown promise as a receiver and return man, to a season-ending knee injury.

That leaves Muhsin Muhammad, Dwayne Jarrett and, now, Parker. Veteran Travis Taylor and a handful of young receivers are on the roster, but they probably won't stick.

Unless Hackett suddenly makes a miraculous recovery, it's looking like Muhammad and Jarrett will be the starters when the Panthers open their season at San Diego. Muhammad's a solid veteran, who can fill a big role in the possession game.

But the Panthers are going to need Jarrett, who had only six catches in a disappointing rookie season to take a huge step forward. Jarrett's physical talent never has been in doubt, but teammates and coaches questioned his work ethic as a rookie. All indications are Jarrett has been working much harder at mentally preparing this year.

The Panthers entered camp hoping Jarrett could be the fourth receiver. For the first two weeks of the regular season, they probably will need him to be a starter.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Saints and Panthers made some moves today in anticipation of tomorrow's deadline for cutting rosters to 75 players, but there weren't any surprises.

The Saints released fullback Kevin Dudley, receiver Todd Blythe, center Rob Hunt, safety Curome Cox and punter Waylon Prather. The Panthers placed receiver Jason Carter on the injured reserve list and released quarterback Lester Ricard, cornerback Curtis DeLoatch, defensive end Casper Brinkley and tight end Chris Conklin.

Not much exciting there, so let's go ahead and take a look at one interesting question for each NFC South team as the cut to 53 players comes this weekend.

SAINTS

Who will be the kicker? The Saints have a big choice to make between veteran Martin Gramatica and rookie Taylor Mehlhaff. Gramatica's made some big kicks in the past and has lots of experience. But he hasn't always been consistent and he doesn't have a big leg. Mehlhaff does have a big leg, but has never kicked in the NFL.

BUCS

What quarterbacks stay? After going through much of the offseason with six quarterbacks on the roster and making a run at Brett Favre, the Bucs are down to a mere five quarterbacks. Mercifully, that number finally has to dwindle. The question is if they'll carry three or four quarterbacks. Throw Chris Simms out because he'll either be cut or traded. That leaves Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, Luke McCown and rookie Josh Johnson. Garcia's safe and Griese should be, too. It's tough to carry four quarterbacks and the Bucs may have to decide between McCown and Johnson. Then again, Jon Gruden's love for quarterbacks means it's possible the Bucs could pluck one -- or two -- off the waiver wire.

PANTHERS

How many quarterbacks will they keep? Coach John Fox and General Manager Marty Hurney have shown a willingness in the past to go with only two quarterbacks and Jake Delhomme and Matt Moore are automatic. That leaves Brett Basanez on the bubble. But recent history may be on his side. The Panthers had to play musical quarterbacks last season because of injuries and ineptitude and that didn't work out well. Basanez is a guy the Panthers like and they'd be wise to hang onto him because he has some upside. Besides, if they cut Basanez and have another injury at quarterback, who are the going to call? Vinny Testaverde?

FALCONS

Will veteran receiver Brian Finneran stick? He's trying to make a comeback after suffering major knee injuries the last two years and Finneran is making the most of his opportunity. He seems to have moved ahead of Laurent Robinson for the No. 4 receiver spot. Robinson seemed ticketed for a starting job at the start of camp, but has fallen out of favor. Finneran's durability remains a question, but his ability to contribute on special teams could help his stock.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

 

Robinson

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Panthers suffered a scare midway through this afternoon's practice when receiver Ryne Robinson collided with safety Nate Salley on a deep pass.

The players appeared to bang knees as they both went for a pass. Salley got up after a few seconds, but Robinson did not. The team's medical personnel appeared to be checking his left knee before taking him off the field on a cart. Coach John Fox said after practice that he didn't have an update on Robinson's condition.

The Panthers have depth at wide receiver, but an injury to Robinson could impact the special teams. Robinson returned 26 kickoffs and 30 punts as a rookie last season. There's no clear-cut replacement if Robinson is out for any length of time.

Rookie running back Jonathan Stewart got some work as a kickoff returner. Defensive back Ricardo Colclough and receiver Jason Carter also have returning experience.

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