Can Carolina coach John Fox trust a rookie wide receiver?
He’d better. Although Fox is the ultimate creature of habit and rarely has given young wide receivers big opportunities in the past, that might not be possible this year. That’s simply because Fox really doesn’t have much choice.
Young receivers like Brandon LaFell may need to be called on this season.
The Panthers invested two early draft picks in wide receivers Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards . Beyond Steve Smith, who will miss at least part of training camp with a broken arm, the Panthers have virtually nothing else at wide receiver. Dwayne Jarrett is a guy who never has played up to his potential and Kenneth Moore might be able to be a role player.
Jarrett is a good example of Fox’s tendency to go slow with young receivers. The coach doesn’t like to play them because they’re capable of making mistakes. Aside from Keary Colbert, who had a decent rookie year before disappearing, Fox never has given a rookie receiver much playing time.
But Fox, who is in the last year of his contract, needs to think more about possible big plays than possible big mistakes by LaFell and Edwards. The Panthers desperately need someone to take some of the defensive attention off Smith.
LaFell is big and strong and has all of the tools to be an every-down receiver. Edwards is speedy and dynamic and can give the Panthers a real slot receiver for the first time in years.
Fox has been given the parts he needs at wide receiver. Now he just has to use them.