NFL Nation: Armanti Edwards

Injury report: Robertson misses practice

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
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Cleveland Browns inside linebacker Craig Robertson walked through the locker room with a brace on his right knee, but he did not practice Wednesday as the team prepared for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Robertson
Robertson hurt his knee in the loss to Cincinnati. He tried to return, but couldn't.

He has started every game at inside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton has said that Robertson's abilities in coverage and against the run allow the Browns to do different things.

Robertson ranks third on the Browns with 70 tackles. With him out, Tank Carder moves into the lineup alongside D'Qwell Jackson. Carder has one start in two seasons with the Browns.

Coach Rob Chudzinski said the defense will "generally" be able to do the same things with Carder.

The Browns also announced that Armanti Edwards was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. Edwards had signed with the Browns on Oct. 29 and had shared time with Davone Bess returning punts.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Armanti Edwards project officially has been shelved.

The Carolina Panthers waived on Tuesday the former Appalachian State quarterback, who led the Mountaineers to consecutive Division I championships in 2006 and 2007, that they tried to transform into a wide receiver.

Edwards was selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft. In 39 games he had five catches for 121 yards. His biggest contribution was as a return specialist, where he returned 36 punts for 253 yards and 15 kickoffs for 295 yards.

He was expected to compete for the third wide receiver spot this season, and was called the MVP of training camp by coach Ron Rivera at one point. His days were numbered when he lost that battle to Ted Ginn Jr., also a return specialist.

The Panthers also cut wide receiver Cordell Roberson from the practice squad and signed Toney Clemons.

What to watch: Panthers-Ravens

August, 22, 2013
8/22/13
11:02
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Three things to watch as the Carolina Panthers play the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN:

Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen. Newton will get his most extensive playing time of the preseason, and the Panthers hope he and the offense can get in a rhythm. Newton has led only one touchdown drive this preseason. Clausen is expected to play with the second team. That’s not a sign that Clausen has a chance to beat out Derek Anderson for the backup job. It’s more of a sign that the Panthers want to take a good look at Clausen before deciding if they want to carry two or three quarterbacks on the roster.

The receivers. Armanti Edwards, Domenik Hixon and Joe Adams aren’t expected to play due to injuries. That means more playing time for Ted Ginn Jr. and David Gettis, who are having strong preseasons and have a chance to be among the top backups at receiver.

Garry Williams. He’s been getting the first-team work at right guard since the team released veteran Geoff Hangartner. Williams needs a strong showing because it still is possible the team could bring in a veteran as other teams trim their rosters.

Observation deck: Panthers-Eagles

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
10:38
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The Carolina Panthers better put in a hurry-up defense quickly.

That became apparent in Thursday night’s 14-9 preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

With the defensive starters playing most of the first half, the Panthers struggled to stop Philadelphia’s fast-paced attack. The Eagles piled up 257 yards of total offense in the first half.

Carolina's defense was on its heels, reacting instead of being proactive, most of the night.

Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly’s scheme is unique, but the Panthers are going to face elements of it in the regular season. They have to play Atlanta (twice), a team that’s proficient in the no-huddle offense. They also have to face Seattle’s Russell Wilson and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, a pair of quarterbacks who can make things happen with their ability to run.

Things could have been even worse, but Carolina’s first defense was able to produce three turnovers to stop Philadelphia drives. But it’s pretty obvious the unit isn’t a finished product.

The Panthers have some work to do in getting ready for no-huddle offenses and mobile quarterbacks.

Some other quick observations on the Panthers:
  • It wasn’t all bad news for the defense. Cornerback Josh Norman had an interception on a Hail-Mary pass just before the end of the first half and cornerback Josh Thomas picked off Nick Foles early on. Veterans Drayton Florence and Captain Munnerlyn have been getting most of the first-team work in camp, but the interceptions by Norman and Thomas might put them in the mix for starting jobs.
  • I liked the fact the Panthers gave running back DeAngelo Williams 12 carries in the first half. I thought Williams was underutilized last season. He’s an explosive player and, if given enough chances in the regular season, Williams will make things happen.
  • Defensive end Greg Hardy produced a first-half sack. But give some of the credit to rookie defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who got good penetration on the play.
  • Wide receiver Steve Smith is 34, but still going strong, largely because he runs such great routes.
  • Rookie Kenjon Barner might have hurt his chances at claiming future playing time as a return man by muffing a third-quarter punt return.
  • With receivers Domenik Hixon, Joe Adams and Armanti Edwards sitting out due to injuries, David Gettis and Ted Ginn Jr. made the most of increased opportunities. Gettis had five catches for 82 yards and Ginn had two catches for 39 yards.

Observation deck: Bears-Panthers

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
11:12
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The muddled cornerback situation for the Carolina Panthers might be clearing up.

Second-year pro Josh Norman, who is competing with Drayton Florence, Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Thomas for a starting job recorded two interceptions in Friday night’s 24-17 victory against the Chicago Bears at Bank of America Stadium.

Norman intercepted Jay Cutler on Chicago’s first offensive play of the night to set up a quick touchdown. Norman also had an interception that he returned 60 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Florence and Munnerlyn had been getting most of the first-team work in camp. But Norman certainly made his case for a starting job Friday night.

Some other observations on the Panthers:

We saw the two sides of quarterback Cam Newton in some very limited playing time. He threw a great touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell on a drag route. But Newton also forced a ball into coverage and had it intercepted and returned 51 yards for a touchdown.

Rookie fullback Michael Zordich suffered a knee injury on a first-quarter kickoff. Zordich is fighting for a roster spot and the injury looked serious.

Joe Adams, who had the punt return job taken away from him last year, might have gotten some redemption with a 23-yard punt return in the first quarter.

Charles Johnson got credit for a sack, but he got plenty of help from rookie Kawann Short, who got a good push. Short looked good on several other plays.

Rookie running back Kenjon Barner got a lot of playing time and did some good things. But Barner lost a fumble. That’s not going to help him gain the trust of the coaching staff. Adams lost his job last year because he couldn’t hold onto the football and the fumble could haunt Barner.

David Gettis had a couple of nice catches. But I think Gettis faces an uphill battle to make the roster. He’s behind Armanti Edwards and Ted Ginn Jr. on the depth chart and both of those receivers made several plays Thursday night. Edwards and Ginn also have return ability and Gettis does not.

Tight end Brandon Williams had a nice catch to set up a touchdown. He came to camp as a long shot to make the roster, but he might end up sticking around.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Some random observations and thoughts out of the Carolina Panthers’ minicamp:
  • Coach Ron Rivera was vague on this topic, but I get the sense that there’s a good chance running back Jonathan Stewart, who is recovering from surgery on both ankles, might not be ready to go at the start of training camp.
  • I don’t think the Panthers will scrap the read-option completely, but I came away with a strong sense they’ll be leaning much more heavily to a traditional running game. I think that’s a wonderful thing. Let Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert truly be running backs, and let Cam Newton be a true quarterback. Let him use his mobility when receivers aren’t open and plays are breaking down. But don’t ask your quarterback to be your leading rusher.
  • Speaking of running backs, rookie Kenjon Barner seems to have plenty of explosiveness and speed. The Panthers might have to figure out a way to get him into the backfield rotation.
  • After starters Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, the Panthers are going to have some very intriguing competition for the other receiver spots. Free-agent pickup Ted Ginn Jr. stood out during minicamp. Ginn has great speed, and I saw him catch several deep passes from Newton. I also thought Armanti Edwards, a former college quarterback, finally looked comfortable at receiver. But Ginn and Edwards will be competing with Kealoha Pilares, Joe Adams and David Gettis in training camp for playing time and roster spots.
  • Speaking of Ginn, the Panthers have plenty of options in the return game. But I get the sense that what they ideally would like to do is have Ginn handle both punt and kickoff returns.
  • Safety Robert Lester was signed as an undrafted free agent, but it’s obvious the Panthers are very high on what he has shown so far. There have been times when Lester has gotten some work with the first team.
  • I wish I could give you a clear picture of the situation at cornerback. But I can’t, and that’s mainly because the Panthers still don’t have a clear picture. Captain Munnerlyn hasn’t participated in minicamp as he recovers from an injury. The Panthers were giving a bunch of different cornerbacks work with the first team. I didn’t see any of them really stand out, and that means the competition will continue into training camp.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I’ll be heading out shortly to watch the Carolina Panthers open their minicamp.

Let’s take a look at five things I’ll be keeping a close eye on:

Cam Newton. For whatever reason, the quarterback is a magnet for scrutiny. I saw some signs of maturity the second half of last season and I’m curious to see if Newton is continuing to progress.

Mike Shula’s playbook. Shula replaced Rob Chudzinski as offensive coordinator. I’m thinking there’s a good chance Shula learned from what Chudzinski did last season. Early on, the Panthers were leaning heavily on Newton and the read option and not really using their running backs. The Panthers started 2-8. Then, they went to a more traditional running game and finished the season strong. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are talented running backs. The Panthers need to use them and let Newton be a quarterback.

Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. The Panthers used their first two draft picks on these two defensive tackles. I thought that was a great move because the Panthers have struggled in this area for far too long. Lotulelei is a classic run-stuffer and Short has the potential to bring an interior pass rush. If these guys are anywhere near as good as advertised, Carolina’s defense has a chance to be very good.

The defensive backfield. The Panthers didn’t make any big moves here and that was somewhat surprising. But general manger Dave Gettleman and coach Ron Rivera know a lot more about football than I do. They must be confident that some of their mid-level free agents and some guys that were already on the roster can play.

The cluster at wide receiver. The Panthers have loaded up their depth behind starters Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. They brought in free agents Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn Jr. to compete with Kealoha Pilares, Armanti Edwards, David Gettis and Joe Adams. That should create some competition and competition usually prompts someone to step up their game.

I'll be back with more on the Panthers after they finish their morning practice and interview session.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a key player from each NFC South team who needs to show something in offseason sessions:

Atlanta Falcons: Drafted in the first round in 2009, Peria Jerry was supposed to be a dominant defensive tackle. That got thrown off track very quickly when Jerry tore up his knee in the second game of his rookie season. He has come back but never has been close to being the player he was before the injury. The Falcons have accepted that Jerry is only a role player. But Vance Walker left via free agency, and they would like Jerry’s role to increase this season. They want him to be the top option in the rotation behind starters Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters. This is the final year of Jerry’s contract. If the Falcons aren’t completely sold on what they see in Jerry during the rest of the offseason program and preseason, they could bring in a veteran defensive tackle.

Carolina Panthers: It is blatantly clear that it is now or never for wide receiver Armanti Edwards. The Panthers gave up a future second-round pick to draft Edwards in the third round of the 2010 draft. The hope was that the former college quarterback could be an effective receiver and return man. To date, Edwards has five career receptions and hasn’t been able to hold on to the return job. The acquisitions of return specialist Ted Ginn and a growing list of young receivers seem to put Edwards very much on the bubble as training camp approaches.

New Orleans Saints: Safety Malcolm Jenkins might be the most perplexing player in this division. A first-round pick in 2009, Jenkins seems to possess every talent (physical skills, work ethic and intellect) necessary to be a star. Yet Jenkins really hasn’t had much of an impact. Maybe new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will figure out a way to get Jenkins finally to play up to his potential. But the Saints used a first-round pick on Kenny Vaccaro, and they want to get him on the field. Maybe the arrival of Vaccaro will light a fire under Jenkins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The team is putting a lot of eggs in Da’Quan Bowers' basket. After letting Michael Bennett depart through free agency, the Bucs have made it clear they’re counting on Bowers to be their main pass-rusher. The potential is there for that move to work out well. Bowers has rare physical skills and quickness. But injuries slowed him in his first two seasons. He needs to show the Bucs he can handle the wear and tear of starting for an entire season.

NFC South offseason Stock Watch

April, 8, 2013
4/08/13
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RISING

Lamar Holmes, Falcons. Don’t rule out the possibility of the Falcons bringing in someone to play right tackle in the draft or as a free agent. But at the moment, Holmes appears to be the player most likely to start at right tackle. Holmes barely played as a rookie. But he was a third-round draft choice last year and the Falcons may believe it’s time to get him on the field.

Doug Martin, Buccaneers. Here’s an early fantasy tip: Draft this guy very early. He had a very strong rookie season and there’s no reason to expect a sophomore slump. In fact, Martin’s numbers should only get better with Pro Bowl guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks returning from injuries.

Roman Harper, Saints. New Orleans fans might not want to hear this, but all indications are the Saints are sticking with Harper at strong safety. If they weren’t it’s likely they would have released him by now or at least asked him to take a cut in pay. Only the Saints know what they have planned for Harper. But the fact that he still is around is a pretty good indication that new coordinator Rob Ryan has plans for Harper. That likely means the Saints will let Harper play to his strengths -- helping against the run and being used as a blitzer -- and not being asked to do too much in coverage.

FALLING

LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers. There have been multiple reports that the Bucs are shopping Blount. But the fact the word is out there and that the Bucs have no apparent plans to give Blount a larger role will make it difficult to trade him. Interested teams may just wait because the Bucs may end up releasing him.

Stephen Nicholas, Falcons. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Falcons bring in an outside linebacker fairly early in the draft. Nicholas’ flaws got exposed in the postseason and it might be time to look for an upgrade.

Kealoha Pilares, Joe Adams and Armanti Edwards. The signings of Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn Jr. show the Panthers can’t be very high on Pilares, Adams or Edwards as receivers or return men. If David Gettis is healthy, Pilares, Adams and Edwards might be battling for one roster spot in training camp.
There are a lot of injury issues in the NFC South this week. Let's take a look at the latest on the most significant injuries:

ATLANTA FALCONS

The Falcons have a star-studded cast of players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with Arizona. Receiver Julio Jones, who has not practiced all week due to an ankle injury, highlights the list. If Jones can’t play Sunday, the Falcons likely would start Harry Douglas and use Drew Davis or recently signed Tim Toone as their third receiver. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (ankle) did not practice all week, has missed two straight games and is listed as questionable. In the cases of both Jones and Weatherspoon, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons take a cautious approach and sit them, especially since the game is on turf and against a struggling opponent. The Falcons also are listing defensive end John Abraham (back) and running back Michael Turner (groin) as questionable. But both participated in Friday’s practice on a limited basis.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Although he practiced this week, there still is uncertainty if running back Darren Sproles will be able to play Sunday. Interim coach Joe Vitt said Sproles experienced some swelling in his hand and is listed as questionable. Running back is one position where the Saints have plenty of depth and they can continue to use a rotation of Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory if Sproles isn’t ready to go. Right tackle Zach Strief (groin) has been ruled out for Sunday. That means it’s likely Charles Brown will start in his place.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Despite missing Thursday’s practice receiver/return man Armanti Edwards (groin) is probable for Sunday. Coach Ron Rivera also said Jeff Byers will start at right guard Sunday. There had been speculation that Jeremy Bridges, who was signed earlier this week, might move immediately into the starting lineup. But Rivera said Bridges still needs to work on conditioning.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Guard Jamon Meredith (ankle) participated in Friday’s walk-through, giving the Bucs some hope he might be ready to go. Cornerback Eric Wright also practiced after missing Thursday’s session due to what coach Greg Schiano said was a personal reason.

Wrap-up: Panthers 21, Redskins 13

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
4:23
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Thoughts on the Carolina Panthers21-13 victory against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday:

What it means: This isn’t going to suddenly turnaround what has been a brutal season for Carolina. But it’s going to go a long way in stopping some of the bleeding. The Panthers snapped a five-game losing streak and improved their record to 2-6. An impressive win on the road might be a step toward coach Ron Rivera keeping his job after the season. But Rivera’s going to need some move victories to solidify his status.

An Armanti Edwards sighting: Edwards made what was easily the biggest play in his time in Carolina. Leading 14-6 early in the fourth quarter with the ball deep in their own territory, the Panthers, surprisingly, didn’t get conservative. Instead, they took a shot downfield to the seldom-used Edwards. Cam Newton hit Edwards with a deep pass that ended up going for 82 yards and that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Newton.

What I liked: Carolina’s defense. This unit has drawn tons of criticism and it generally has been deserved. But Carolina’s defense came through in a big way Sunday. It wasn’t a perfect day as the Redskins finished with 346 yards of total offense. But the Panthers held the Redskins to two field goals until the Redskins scored a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. That's a pretty solid defensive performance. Also, defensive end Greg Hardy, who looked like a bust early in his career continues to show signs he might be developing into a reliable pass rusher.

Newton’s efficient day: The quarterback has been drawing a lot of criticism in recent weeks. But it’s hard to criticize Newton’s performance against the Redskins, he didn’t have a turnover while completing 13 of 23 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing eight times for 37 yards and a touchdown.

What’s next: The Panthers are home next Sunday with Denver. This will be a homecoming for Denver coach John Fox, who coached the Panthers from 2002 through 2010 and took the franchise to its only Super Bowl.
What happened with the Carolina Panthers on Monday morning is a reminder that the NFL is a cold, hard business and the win-loss record is all that really matters.

The Panthers fired general manager Marty Hurney. It was inevitable. Carolina came into the season with very high expectations but is off to a 1-5 start. The Panthers haven’t had a winning season since 2008.

Fans are getting restless, and so is team owner Jerry Richardson, a man who spent a ton of money coming out of this past summer’s lockout.

[+] EnlargeMarty Hurney
AP Photo/Bob LeveroneMarty Hurney had been the Panthers' GM since 2002.
Someone had to take the fall, and Hurney was the choice. You can question whether Hurney was the right guy to sacrifice, and some already are doing that.

“Marty wasn't the reason we are losing!" Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson said on his Twitter account. “That's bs! Unbelievable! Marty might be the realist GM that I know #InMyMind BS BS BS BS!"

You can wonder if maybe head coach Ron Rivera, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski or defensive coordinator Sean McDermott should have been ousted. At least to me, it looks as though the Panthers have a talented roster that is not being coached very well.

And you can certainly question the timing of Hurney’s firing. Does it really make sense to fire the guy who runs the personnel department after Week 7?

No, it doesn’t. The Panthers will bring in someone from outside or elevate director of pro scouting Mark Koncz, but either way, they’re not going to right the ship in the middle of the season. Any personnel moves that can help this team will have to come in the offseason.

But this wasn’t just a football move. It went much deeper than that.

To understand what I mean by that, you have to know a bit about Hurney and Richardson. They were -- and even now probably will remain -- exceptionally close. After saying he’d never have a general manager again after Bill Polian’s ugly departure, Richardson hired Hurney to manage the salary cap in 1998.

The two hit it off, and Hurney quickly gained Richardson’s trust. When former coach George Seifert ran the franchise into the ground in 2001, Richardson reversed course and promoted Hurney to general manager. He also essentially let Hurney hire John Fox as coach.

The Panthers reached the Super Bowl in Hurney and Fox's second season together, 2003. Two seasons later, they were back in the NFC Championship Game.

But soon after that, Richardson started to see cracks. He wanted to see back-to-back winning seasons, and he was starting to worry about growing egos.

Richardson’s worries eventually turned into realities. Fox never produced consecutive winning seasons, and the level of trust between the coach and Richardson seemed to erode to a point where things became downright hostile in Fox’s final season, 2010.

But the Richardson-Hurney relationship survived all that, and Richardson let Hurney hire Rivera to replace Fox. Part of the reason is Hurney is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet in football or anywhere else. He’s the kind of guy who picked up the phone to offer condolences to a reporter whose father had died the moment he heard about it.

Hurney is the kind of guy who would call a reporter on draft night just to exchange thoughts on what happened around the league. He’s the kind of guy who would never lie to you and always try to steer a reporter in the right direction, even if it wasn’t necessarily in his best interest.

On the job, Hurney made some brilliant moves through the years -- signing Jake Delhomme and Stephen Davis as free agents, drafting the likes of Julius Peppers, Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil. His drafting of quarterback Cam Newton looked brilliant last year, but not so much this season.

He also made some very questionable moves -- signing Delhomme to a big contract extension after the quarterback had flamed out, drafting Armanti Edwards, Jimmy Clausen, Dwayne Jarrett, Terrell McClain, Eric Norwood, Everette Brown, Jeff Otah and some other busts. He also committed $80 million of Richardson’s money to running backs DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert.

But for some reason, the coaching staff isn’t making much use out of Williams, Stewart and Tolbert. Is that Hurney’s fault?

I don’t think so. And I don’t think Richardson totally believes that, either.

Still, it really doesn’t matter. Richardson needed a scapegoat, and it had to be hard for him to decide on Hurney. But keep in mind, Richardson once fired his two sons (Mark as team president and Jon as stadium president). His logic on that move was that their dysfunctional relationship was taking a toll on the other 300 people who worked in the building and on fans.

The logic on Hurney was similar. Things weren’t going well, and fans were giving up on the Panthers.

When I spoke to Hurney last week, he seemed resigned to the idea that his time was running out, but it seemed he thought the move would come more toward the end of the season.

That might have been more logical. But Richardson had to send a message now to his fans that he still cares about winning and that the current product is unsatisfactory. It would be difficult to fire the entire coaching staff or fire Rivera and elevate one of his assistants in the middle of the season.

Someone had to go now, and that was Hurney. But I think it should be clear to Rivera, every assistant coach in the building and every player that if Richardson is willing to get rid of Hurney, no one is sacred.

There’s going to be a lot more housecleaning in Carolina after the season. This was just the first step.

ATLANTA -- Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons' 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome on Sunday:

What it means: After a major scare, the Falcons are 4-0 and high atop the NFC South. They showed they can win on a day when they're not playing their best. Carolina played as well as it could have. But the Panthers fell to 1-3. They're in a hole, but they can take some positives from this game.

Never panic: The Falcons were up against the wall. Trailing 28-27, they took over at their own 1-yard line after a punt with 59 seconds left. Matt Ryan connected on a bomb to Roddy White and the Falcons got help from a pass interference penalty on Captain Munnerlyn. Ryan then worked the sidelines to move the ball to Carolina's 22-yard line with 10 seconds left. That's when the Falcons brought in the trusty Matt Bryant to kick the game-winning 40-yard field goal.

Cam Newton’s almost-spectacular homecoming: Newton, who grew up in the Atlanta area, bounced back in a big way after a disastrous performance 10 days ago in a loss to the New York Giants. Newton was pretty close to flawless, completing 15 of 24 passes for 215 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Newton also ran for a career-high 86 yards and had a touchdown on nine carries.

Michael Turner’s big day: After barely averaging 50 yards rushing in the first three games, there was a lot of talk that the Atlanta running back might be washed up. It turns out that was premature. Turner ran for 103 yards on 13 carries and also had a receiving touchdown. But I’m not completely convinced Turner is at the level he was a few years ago. I think Carolina’s defense played a pretty significant role in Turner’s success.

Stat of the day: The 60-yard scoring pass Turner caught in the third quarter was the first receiving touchdown of his career. He’s been in the league since 2004.

Stat of the day II: The pass Carolina receiver Armanti Edwards caught in the third quarter was the first reception of his NFL career. He’s been in the league since 2004.

Charles Johnson shows up: The highly paid Carolina defensive end didn’t have a sack and was mostly quiet in the first three games. But he exploded against Atlanta, producing 3.5 sacks and batting down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

What’s next: The Falcons travel to Washington to play the Redskins next Sunday. The Panthers are at home next Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Jon Beason to play against Falcons

September, 30, 2012
9/30/12
11:46
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ATLANTA -- Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason, who was listed as questionable with knee and shoulder injuries, will be active for Sunday’s game with the Atlanta Falcons.

The biggest item of note on Carolina’s list of inactives is that rookie receiver/return man Joe Adams will not play. Adams muffed a punt and fumbled on a kickoff return last week. Kealoha Pilares is expected to handle kickoff returns and Armanti Edwards is likely to handle punt returns.

Carolina’s other inactives are Jimmy Clausen, D.J. Campbell, Bruce Campbell, Mike Pollak, Antwan Applewhite and Frank Kearse.

As expected, Atlanta fullback Lousaka Polite, cornerback Chris Owens, tight end Michael Palmer and running back Antone Smith are inactive due to injuries. The other inactives for the Falcons are Dominique Davis, Lamar Holmes and Jonathan Massaquoi.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 36, Panthers 7

September, 20, 2012
9/20/12
11:32
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Thoughts on the Carolina Panthers' 36-7 loss to the New York Giants on Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium.

What it means: The Panthers aren’t the team on the rise that many, including myself, thought they were. They’re 1-2. There’s still hope and plenty of time to get things on track. But, right now, the Panthers aren’t looking like anything close to a playoff team.

The new and improved defense? Carolina’s defense was terrible last season, but it was easy to write that off to injuries. This year was supposed to be different with linebacker Jon Beason and defensive tackle Ron Edwards returning from injuries, and the addition of linebacker Luke Kuechly and cornerback Josh Norman in the draft. None of that seemed to matter against the Giants. The Panthers couldn’t stop the run or the pass. The Giants scored on their first four possessions, and the Panthers never were in the game.

What I liked: I can’t really think of anything, other than Carolina tight end Greg Olsen, who had a pretty good night.

What I didn’t like: Most of this loss can be pinned on Carolina’s defense. I doubt Carolina could have won this game even if its offense was perfect. But the Carolina offense was far from perfect in the first half. The Panthers had a few nice plays but couldn’t sustain any sort of drive. Wide receiver Steve Smith was barely a factor. The Carolina defense was better in the second half, but it was too late to really matter.

Who's on the hot seat? Perhaps Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. The injuries were a built-in excuse for the Carolina defense last year. But there's no excuse now. It's not good when your defense is so bad that it keeps Cam Newton and a talented offense from ever getting into a rhythm.

Who else is on the hot seat? Probably rookie return man Joe Adams. He failed to handle a punt in the fourth quarter, and that gave the Giants the ball. He didn't look good all night. Adams has plenty of upside, but it might be time to sit him and let someone else (Armanti Edwards or Kealoha Pilares?) handle returns. It doesn't have to be a permanent thing. But Adams looks like a kid who needs a little more time to get comfortable.

What’s next: The Panthers play the Falcons on Sept. 30 at the Georgia Dome.

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