NFC South: New York Jets

Live blog: Jets at Panthers

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
2:00
PM ET
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they break down the New York Jets' visit to the Carolina Panthers. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 4 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.

Double Coverage: Jets at Panthers

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
10:00
AM ET
Chris IvoryGetty ImagesChris Ivory and the Jets know it will be tough to move the ball against Luke Kuechly's Panthers.
The Carolina Panthers and New York Jets meet Sunday in a game with playoff implications, something few probably would have predicted before the season.

The Panthers (9-4) are currently the fifth seed in the NFC and had won eight straight games before their 31-13 loss at New Orleans. They still have an outside chance at winning the NFC South if they win out and the Saints lose two of three, including a rematch in Charlotte on Dec. 22.

The Jets (6-7) are in a more tenuous situation. They are a game behind Baltimore (7-6) for the sixth seed in the AFC and probably need to win out to have a legitimate playoff shot, with Miami at 7-6 and the Chargers 6-7.

A lot is at stake. ESPN.com Panthers reporter David Newton and Jets reporter Rich Cimini are here to break this one down.

Newton: Rich, the Jets have impressive wins over New England and New Orleans. They also have some bad losses to teams they probably expected to beat. Why have they been so Jekyll-and-Hyde?

Cimini: Good question, Dave. I think Rex Ryan wishes he knew the answer to that. The Jets are your basic mediocre football team -- 2-4 against teams with winning records, 4-3 against the others. To their credit, they played exceptionally well in upsetting the Patriots and Saints. I know this sounds crazy, but in retrospect those wins have turned out to be somewhat of a curse. It raised the expectation level, inside and outside the organization, putting pressure on the team. Clearly, they haven't handled it well.

This is a young team (five starting rookies) prone to wild swings. They're feeling better about themselves after beating the Raiders, snapping a three-game losing streak. Their offense played its best game in two months, which is to say it actually found the end zone. But I have a feeling the Jets about to get hit with a sobering dose of reality -- which happened to the Panthers in New Orleans. What's the mood around the team and how do you think it will respond?

Newton: The mood is surprisingly upbeat for a team that was just embarrassed on prime-time television. Check out my post on defensive end Greg Hardy talking Monday about his Sunday night introduction as "Kraken, Hogwarts" and you'll see he has already moved on. That's what I saw from the entire locker room. One of the strengths of this team has been its ability to put the last game in the rearview mirror quickly, regardless of whether it's a win or a loss.

I'm not suggesting a blowout in this one, but my guess is the Jets will respond similar to the way the Saints did to their 34-7 loss to Seattle. The Panthers understand what's at stake and are completely focused on the Jets. Several have mentioned how well New York has played defensively, but from what I've seen, it has given up a lot of yards the past few games. What's going on there?

Cimini: I read the "Kraken, Hogwarts" item; Hardy sounds like a trip. Anyway, on the Jets' defense, you're right: They've given up a lot of yards the past two weeks -- 836. That's the highest back-to-back total in the Rex Ryan era. Why? A few reasons, including fatigue. Because of the offensive struggles, the defense has spent a lot of time on the field and it could be taking a toll. Also, the secondary has been a major disappointment. It has allowed 44 pass plays of 20 or more yards. To compensate, Ryan is playing more two-high-safety looks than usual, leaving seven in the box. That has left the Jets vulnerable against the run.

They brought in Ed Reed to help prevent the long ball, but he hasn't made a huge impact. The cornerback play, once a strength, has dropped off considerably. Antonio Cromartie, coming off a Pro Bowl season, is playing with a bum hip and getting torched regularly. Rookie Dee Milliner has experienced his share of growing pains. The Jets had trouble with Matt McGloin and Ryan Tannehill, so I have to think Cam Newton will have a big day. Will he?

Newton: I'm not a soothsayer, but if he does, the Jets are in trouble. When Newton has a big day, the Panthers usually do, too. But what has been key this season is Newton hasn't always had to have a big day for Carolina to succeed. Newton has learned to rely on others around him to make plays, not feeling like he has to carry the load. It's a big reason the Panthers are 9-4. The Saints did a good job of keeping him in check, but they were playing with a big lead after the second quarter. The defensive linemen didn't have to respect the run as much and were able to focus on Newton. When the offense has been somewhat balanced, Newton has been dangerous.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Geno Smith seems to be all over the place, but the coaches have stuck with him. Why?

Cimini: "All over the place" is being kind, Dave. He went through a two-month stretch of historically bad quarterback play. So why is he still the guy? New general manager John Idzik drafted Smith in the second round and he wants to get a complete evaluation, determining if he can be their quarterback of the future. Basically, it's a sink-or-swim situation -- and Idzik is willing to suffer in the short term if it helps him make a long-term decision.

Smith wasn't ready to start the season, but he got the job by default when Mark Sanchez wrecked his shoulder in the preseason. With no big-time playmakers around him, Smith is in a difficult situation, but he has handled it as well as could be expected. The backups are Matt Simms (no NFL starts) and veteran David Garrard, who has been in mothballs for three years. So there you have it -- the worst quarterback situation in the NFL. And it won't get better Sunday because the Panthers are outstanding on defense. What makes them so good?

Newton: Your bluntness on the "worst quarterback situation in the NFL" makes me chuckle. Good one. And the Panthers are good at making quarterbacks look bad -- Drew Brees aside. Outside of the Saints, they have been consistent at applying pressure with the front four and then mixing up the coverages with seven players. Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis have played at a Pro Bowl level, and the front four are stingy at stopping the run, as Carolina's No. 1 ranking against the rush will attest. The addition of rookie tackle Star Lotulelei, a disruptive force in the middle, has been huge.

The Saints were so effective in part because Brees has a quick release and in part because, for the first time in a long time, the Panthers weren't sound fundamentally. I suspect the Saints had a lot to do with creating that. But as badly as they seemed to play against New Orleans, they gave up only 69 yards rushing and 373 yards of total offense. I suspect the New York defense would take that now if they were told that's all Carolina would have on Sunday. Since, from the tone of some of your answers, you anticipate this to be a mismatch, what do you consider the X factor for the Jets to win?

Cimini: Hmm, can I get back to you on that? Just kidding. I actually think this will be an interesting game because the teams are similar -- defensive-minded teams that rely on the running game. The difference is the Panthers do it better than the Jets. As for the X factor, it's running back Chris Ivory. If the Jets can somehow establish a ground game, it would take a lot of pressure off Smith, who could be overwhelmed if he's in too many third-and-long situations. Ivory has been one of the few sparks on offense, and he knows the Panthers from his NFC South days with the Saints. So he's my X factor, but the Jets might need "Y" and "Z" factors to help them Sunday.

Newton: If the Jets can establish the ground game with Ivory, something no Panthers opponent really has done with any back since Buffalo in Week 2, it could be interesting. Regardless, it's a big game for both teams to keep their playoff hopes going.

Geno Smith and Matt RyanUSA TODAY SportsGeno Smith's Jets and Matt Ryan's Falcons will try to bounce back from a disappointing Week 4.
If the Atlanta Falcons were in desperation mode last week against the Patriots, now they're in an all-out panic as they prepare to face the New York Jets on ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

The Falcons limp into the matchup at 1-3 despite being touted as a Super Bowl favorite. Quarterback Matt Ryan admitted not being as sharp as he wanted to be the last time out. Now, Ryan has to keep the locker room together as the Falcons try to stay afloat against the always-entertaining Rex Ryan and his Jets (2-2).

ESPN.com Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure and his Jets counterpart, Rich Cimini, discuss the matchup.

McClure: I was talking to Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux the other day about the mindset when facing a rookie quarterback. He admitted Geno Smith was somewhat similar to Carolina's Cam Newton, a player the Falcons have had trouble containing. Can Smith cause problems for the Falcons or is his confidence shaken?

Cimini: Smith and Newton are different because Smith isn't nearly as dangerous as Newton in terms of making plays outside the pocket. He'll scramble on occasion, and they might call a read-option play here and there, but he's a pure pocket passer. I'd say, yes, his confidence has to be shaken. He's coming off a bad day against the Titans -- four turnovers, bringing his total to 11. He's making bad decisions and being careless with the football. Ryan said he's not considering a change at quarterback -- with Mark Sanchez out, there's no viable option -- but there will come a point where he'll have to do something if the turnovers continue. What's up with Matt Ryan? This hasn't been a vintage Ryan season so far.

McClure: No, not by any means. And fans around here are starting to turn on him, for some reason. I understand their passion, but I wouldn't give up on Ryan. I actually give him credit for owning up to his mistakes against the Patriots. He threw a few bad passes on the Falcons' last desperation drive and missed Roddy White wide open for at least a first down on a fourth-and-2 from the Patriots' 7-yard line. Ryan ranks 23rd in the NFL in fourth-quarter passing with a 75.3 QB rating. Maybe he's rushing his throws as a result of protection issues. It doesn't help when your receivers drop a handful of passes, either. At least Ryan seems to have established a rhythm with tight end Tony Gonzalez. So, how will the Jets approach defending Gonzalez based on his 149-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Patriots?

Cimini: I think Rex Ryan is asking himself that same question, Vaughn. He joked about Gonzalez this week, saying, "Quite honestly, I wish he would've retired." The Jets have done a good job defending tight ends, but they haven't faced anyone close to his caliber. I think a lot of the responsibility will fall to second-year safety Antonio Allen, but that would be trouble waiting to happen. Allen is a "box" safety, not known for his coverage skills. In years past, Ryan put cornerback Antonio Cromartie on athletic tight ends for a few plays here and there, but he needs Cromartie on Julio Jones or Roddy White. In other words, I could see Gonzalez having another monster game. A lot will depend on how they defend the running game. What's the latest on Steven Jackson?

McClure: Although Jackson was on the field Tuesday talking with the trainers, he still hasn't practiced since suffering a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the Rams game (Week 2). It was initially called a three-week injury and with the bye following the Jets game, I see no reason why the Falcons would rush Jackson back out there Monday night. In fact, Jackson recently went on his personal blog to update fans on his status and said he wanted to be 100 percent before returning. Not being on the field with his teammates might be hurting him more than the pain from the injury. I see the Jets are banged up at receiver. How will they compensate?

Cimini: You're right, they're banged up. Santonio Holmes (hamstring) won't play, and I'd be stunned if Stephen Hill (concussion) plays. So we're talking about Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates as the starting wideouts, with seldom-used rookie Ryan Spadola as the No. 3 and David Nelson (signed Tuesday) as the No. 4. This is the definition of "patchwork." They can compensate by leaning more on the running game, which has been reasonably effective. Bilal Powell is tied for the AFC lead with 292 rushing yards. I think you'll also see more two-tight end sets with Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland. Ryan said he might install the wishbone. He was joking -- I think. What's wrong with the Falcons' defense? I see they've been giving up some big pass plays.

McClure: Yes, they've given up seven plays of 40-plus yards, including four Sunday. Against the Patriots, the Falcons actually allowed Tom Brady to convert a third-and-19 from his 12 because they failed to get the proper depth on their drops. Such mental errors seem inexcusable, but defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is doing some "patchwork" of his own without Kroy Biermann (Achilles) or Sean Weatherspoon (foot) available and with Asante Samuel (thigh) still ailing. Three rookies -- cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Robert Alford as well as linebacker Joplo Bartu -- are being asked to come of age rather quickly. And the pass rush has been pretty much non-existent even with the addition of Osi Umenyiora, who leads the way with two sacks. Speaking of the rush, what type of pressure will the Jets bring at Matt Ryan?

Cimini: The Jets aren't the defense we thought they'd be. By that, I mean they're blitzing less than expected, and the reason is because they've been getting good pressure from their front three/four. In fact, they've sent five or more rushers on only 33.1 percent of the opponents' dropbacks, which ranks 17th in the league. With Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and rookie Sheldon Richardson up front, I think they'll be able to pressure Ryan without having to dial up exotic blitzes. Rex Ryan's defense has evolved. When he had Darrelle Revis, the secondary was the strength of the unit, but now the strength is up front with the big boys. The Falcons can counter by running an up-tempo offense with quick throws -- that style causes problems for the Jets. Frankly, it blows my mind the Falcons, with all that skill-position talent, are struggling in the red zone. Most Jets would be happy with one of those weapons, let alone three. What's the deal?

McClure: Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and Matt Ryan are trying to figure that out as we speak. The Falcons managed only one touchdown in six red-zone trips against the Patriots. For the season, they rank 29th in the league in terms of red-zone efficiency. Koetter took the blame for some bad play calls and vowed to cut one or two plays out of game plan. The fact that White has recovered slowly from a high ankle sprain hasn't helped. And the blocking has been abysmal, at times, in goal-line situations. Once everyone gets healthy, I expect more production and high-scoring games for the Falcons. If Monday night becomes a shootout, can the Jets compete?

Cimini: They're a pass-oriented offense under Marty Mornhinweg, but it would be hard for them to win a shootout, especially on the road. I know the Falcons have their own issues on defense, so I think the Jets can score points on them. But Smith is too mistake-prone, and the receiving corps is too banged-up for me to think they can walk into Atlanta and outscore the Falcons. Their best chance is to shorten the game, playing ball control with Powell and the running game. I'd be surprised if the Jets win a game in the 30s.

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Revis trade could impact Saints

April, 21, 2013
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Tampa Bay fans aren’t the only ones that should be paying attention to the likely deal of cornerback Darrelle Revis from the New York Jets to the Buccaneers.

If Revis passes his physical and the deal goes through, it could impact the New Orleans Saints.

The Jets reportedly are interested in trading for New Orleans running back Chris Ivory. A trade for Revis would give the Jets more flexibility in what they can offer for Ivory.

At the moment, the Jets hold one pick in each of the seven rounds in this year’s draft.
It looks as if there is continuing progress on the potential trade of cornerback Darrelle Revis from the New York Jets to Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rich Cimini reports that the two teams already have agreed to what the compensation package for the Jets will be and it includes Tampa Bay’s first-round pick (No. 13 overall) this year.

That’s no surprise. The Jets wouldn’t have given Revis permission to fly to Tampa for a physical exam if they weren’t already satisfied with what the Bucs were offering.

It now is just a matter of Tampa Bay’s medical staff taking a look at the knee Revis injured six months ago. If Revis passes the physical, a deal should be completed later Sunday or Monday.
With Sunday morning’s news that the New York Jets have given Tampa Bay permission to bring in cornerback Darrelle Revis for a physical examination, it appears as if the Buccaneers are on the verge of making a blockbuster trade.

Any deal likely would be followed by the Bucs signing Revis to a long-term contract extension that pays him somewhere around $15 million a season.

But the amazing thing is, a Revis deal probably wouldn’t qualify as the biggest trade in franchise history. In fact, it might come in third (and I’m not counting the Steve Young trade because the player was exiting).

Although the Bucs haven’t been wheelers and dealers in recent years, it wasn’t always that way. Back in the early part of the last decade, the Bucs made two huge trades.

We don’t know the exact compensation the Bucs would give up if they make the Revis trade, but speculative reports have it in the ballpark of something like a first-, third- and fifth-round pick (although at least one of those picks could be delayed until 2014).

That’s small potatoes compared to what the Bucs were giving up as they set the stage for their only Super Bowl title.

Back in 2000, the Bucs were trying to bring coach Tony Dungy’s conservative offense into the new century. They made a huge trade with (ironically) the Jets to get receiver Keyshawn Johnson. The Bucs gave up two first-round picks in the 2000 draft.

Dungy’s offense still didn’t become explosive and that led to his firing after the 2001 season. It also set the stage for the biggest trade in franchise history.

After firing Dungy, the Bucs made the biggest trade in franchise history. They shipped 2002 and 2003 first-round picks and 2002 and 2004 second-round picks (plus $8 million in cash) to the Oakland Raiders for Jon Gruden.

In Gruden’s first season, the Bucs won the Super Bowl.

It looks as if the most anticipated trade of the offseason could be going down.

Rich Cimini reports the New York Jets have given the Tampa Bay Buccaneers permission to bring in cornerback Darrelle Revis for a physical examination. Revis is coming off a major knee injury, but all indications are he’s progressing well.

Tampa Bay’s team doctors now will get a close look at Revis’ knee.

But I think the mere fact that the Jets are allowing the Bucs to look at Revis means there’s a good chance the two sides must be close on what the compensation will be. There have been reports that the Bucs likely would have to surrender first-, third- and fifth-round picks, although it’s unclear if they would all be in this year’s draft or if some would be in 2014.

As I pointed out the other day, the Bucs have spent the offseason setting themselves up for a Revis deal. They have more than $33 million in cap space. If a deal is completed, the Bucs likely would sign Revis to a long-term extension worth around $15 million per year.

A healthy Revis would go a long way toward fixing a pass defense that ranked last in the league last year. Revis and Eric Wright likely would be the starting cornerbacks and the Bucs already spent big money on safety Dashon Goldson, who will start next to Eric Wright.

The deal isn’t done yet, but this is a major step toward Revis joining the Buccaneers.
The day wouldn’t be complete without some sort of rumbling on the possible trade by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get cornerback Darrelle Revis from the New York Jets.

The latest comes from Rick Stroud, who reports the Jets’ asking price might be more than the Bucs are willing to give up. Reportedly, the Jets want Tampa Bay’s first-round pick (No. 13 overall) this year as well as picks in the third and fifth rounds (although it’s not clear if the later picks would be in the 2013 or 2014 draft).

I wouldn’t take this as a sign that the Bucs won’t be making a deal for Revis. I think the Bucs are just being wise and trying to get the best deal they possibly can. That’s called good negotiating.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this situation drags into draft day.

Plan B for the Buccaneers at CB?

April, 8, 2013
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If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are losing patience with the New York Jets about a potential trade for Darrelle Revis, which has been reported, I’d like to throw out a possible alternative. This is just my hypothetical scenario, but I think it makes a lot of sense.

Maybe the Bucs should hang loose until draft day and see how things start to unfold. If Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner is still on the board at No. 5 or 6, maybe the Bucs should forget Revis and trade up to draft Milliner.

They’d be getting a top-notch cornerback (although there’s no guarantee he’ll be anywhere near as good as a healthy Revis). Coach Greg Schiano seems to like defensive backs from Alabama (he drafted safety Mark Barron last year). And the cost of a trade up to take Milliner wouldn’t be as costly as the likely price of a Revis deal. More importantly, thanks to the slotted structure of rookie contracts, the Bucs wouldn’t have to pay Milliner nearly as much as they would have to pay Revis.

I’ve got a hunch the Revis situation is still in play. Negotiations always can change with one phone call.

But trading up for Milliner might not be a bad Plan B for the Bucs. If they stay put at No. 13, Milliner will be gone and I don’t know if Desmond Trufant or Xavier Rhodes would provide good value at that point. If the Bucs trade up for Milliner, they’d be getting the best cornerback in the draft and a much needed instant starter.
It had appeared as if the unofficial deadline for the New York Jets would be the NFL draft. But Rich Cimini has uncovered a new twist in the Darrelle Revis saga.

Revis
Cimini reports that Revis has $3 million in bonus money tied to his showing up for offseason workouts, which begin April 15.

That could create some urgency for the Jets to trade the cornerback. Aside from the financial implications, even having Revis show up for workouts when it’s universally known he’s on the trading block could cause major distractions for a team that already has plenty of distractions.

All of that could work to the advantage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They’re the only team that’s emerged as a serious contender to make a trade for Revis. Numerous reports have indicated the Jets want Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in either 2013 or 2014 as compensation.

It appears the Bucs have been dragging their feet, but that might be their best move. By putting the Jets up against an April 15 deadline, there’s a chance New York could get desperate and lower the compensation demands.
The latest on a potential trade by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis comes from Peter King.

He reports that the Jets now might be willing to take draft picks for 2014, instead of this year, as compensation. In the scenario King describes, the Bucs would ship their first- and second-round picks in 2014 to New York. Earlier reports had indicated the compensation the Jets wanted included Tampa Bay’s first-round pick (No. 13 overall) this year and perhaps a third-round pick next year.

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis
AP PhotoTom DiPaceIs Darrelle Revis worth a first- and second-round pick?
But the Bucs are hesitant to give up this year’s first-round draft pick and I don’t blame them. Tampa Bay has the upper hand in this process because it doesn’t seem like any other team is willing to trade for Revis and give him a long-term contract.

The Bucs have the cap room to work a deal with Revis. They also have a need at cornerback and, even though he’s coming off a knee injury, Revis might be the best in the game.

But would it be prudent for the Bucs, who like to talk about how they build through the draft, to give up their top two picks in 2014?

In days of old, like five years ago, that kind of move would have been viewed as mortgaging the future. But the NFL changes quickly and this might not be a bad deal for the Bucs.

In the modern climate of the NFL, it’s fair to say that general manager Mark Dominik needs to win this year. Heck, it might even be fair to say that coach Greg Schiano needs to win in his second year because this team hasn’t won a postseason game in over a decade.

If everything clicks for Tampa Bay, the Jets might be inheriting a 2014 first-round pick that’s in the 20s, maybe even the 30s. If everything doesn’t click, some new general manager (and maybe even a new head coach) would have to deal with the problem of not having first- or second-round picks in 2014.
As I reflect on Wednesday’s news conference to announce the signing of safety Dashon Goldson, two words from Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik keep coming back to me.

Revis
Dominik used the words “rare" and "unique" to describe Goldson. He said very similar things last year when the Bucs signed free agents Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright. For now, let’s overlook the fact Wright hasn’t worked out the way the Bucs hoped.

Dominik’s point is that it’s rare for Pro Bowl level players in their prime to come available and his philosophy is to grab them when they do.

There’s another rare and unique player out there and the Bucs are, at very least, pondering a huge move. The New York Jets are shopping cornerback Darrelle Revis for a trade and the Bucs have been talking to them.

As I wrote last week, Revis is a logical fit for the Bucs. He might be the best cornerback in the league and Tampa Bay was horrible at defending the pass last season. Just as importantly, Revis would bring star power to a franchise that lacks it. Plus, there’s the fact the Bucs are one of the few teams that have enough salary cap room for Revis.

This is a chance for the Bucs to add a player that might be even more rare and unique than Goldson, Nicks and Jackson.

But there’s one big question hanging over this whole scenario: What’s the price tag for Revis?

There are reports that say the Jets want a package that includes Tampa Bay’s first-round pick (No. 13 overall). Those reports say the Bucs have been unwilling to part with that pick, although they might be willing to give up their first-round pick in 2014.

The Bucs need to play this one out. There are questions about Revis’ health as he recovers from a knee injury. There also is the possibility the Jets might not have another realistic trade partner (in case you haven’t noticed, the free-agent market for cornerbacks hasn’t been very good this year).

The Bucs might be able to get a rare and unique player and they might be able to get him at a rare and unique price, too.
Stewart
The Carolina Panthers endured a scary moment near the end of the first half of Sunday night’s game with the New York Jets. Running back Jonathan Stewart was carted off to the locker room with what appeared to be a lower-leg injury.

The injury came on a Stewart run on the final play before the two-minute warning.

The Panthers signed Stewart to a five-year contract extension earlier this preseason.

There is no official word yet on the extent of Stewart’s injury. I’ll let you know as soon as the team says anything.

Counting down to Panthers' game

August, 26, 2012
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We should see plenty of the Carolina Panthers’ starters in Sunday night’s game against the New York Jets.

Coach Ron Rivera has said he expects to play the starters into the third quarter. Rivera also said linebacker Thomas Davis is expected to play.

Davis has been attempting to return from a third torn ACL, but that’s been hindered by a calf injury. Davis returned to practice in recent days. I’d expect Rivera to be cautious not to use Davis too much, but the Panthers to need to get a look at the veteran linebacker to find out how healthy he is as they get ready to trim their roster.

I’m also looking forward to watching what the Panthers do at cornerback. They’d like to move Captain Munnerlyn to nickel back, but they’ll only do that if they feel really good about one of their young cornerbacks.

One starter we won’t see is receiver Steve Smith. He’s recovering from a foot infection. Louis Murphy probably will start in Smith’s place, but I think you’ll see the Panthers taking long looks at young receivers like Kealoha Pilares, Joe Adams, Armanti Edwards and Jared Green because they’re going to have to make some big decisions at that position when they reduce the roster.

I’ll be back soon after the game ends with observations on the Panthers and will break in if there are any significant developments during the game.

Meantime, feel free to use the comments section below to discuss what you see out of the Panthers.

Jeff Demps' decision 'imminent'

August, 16, 2012
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Jeff Demps might be an undrafted rookie free agent, but his decision on which NFL team to play for is being treated like he was a five-time Pro Bowler hitting free agency in March.

That’s understandable for several reasons. First, Demps has appeal because he just returned from London where he was part of the Olympic track team. Second, the New York Jets are involved in this. The Jets have Tim Tebow, Demps’ former college teammate. Anything Tebow and the Jets do these days is magnified by about 1,000 times.

But the NFC South is involved in this one as well. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have interest in Demps, who they stayed in contact with throughout the spring and summer.

Now, here’s the latest. The agency that represents Demps tweeted this morning that a decision on what team his client will play for is imminent. The agency’s tweet also said to follow the Twitter account of its marketing agent for an announcement.

That’s what I’m doing now. I’ll be back with any developments as soon as they happen.

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