Friday, August 8, 2008

It's Friday

At the time I scribble this post, there's a little more than 24 hours left before the Panthers open the pre-season against the Indianapolis Colts. I'll be at the game, and looking for some specific things. Things like:

--Dwayne Jarrett. Offensive Coordinator Jeff Davidson didn't sound too high on Jarrett's progression so far in camp. Reading through the transcripts of his interview, it sounds to me that Davidson isn't a big fan of #80, and if he had the chance to cut him, he might. That's not a good sign for the Panthers 2nd round draft pick from last year. Especially when Jason Carter has been a vacuum in camp (as in sucking up everything in front of him). Jarrett should get plenty of action Saturday night. Let's not forget he caught a deep ball from David Carr in one of the exhibitions last season, which provided loads of hope, none of which materialized. For either player.

--The first team offensive line. Jonathan Stewart is a game time decision, meaning if he doesn't go (which I wouldn't expect him to this week), DeAngelo Williams will see a bulk of the 1st team carries in the game. So it will be up to the front 5 to make some space for Williams to sneak through. The O-line is bigger and heavier, but they seem to be more of a unit already, than last year's crew was at this time. If the front 5 can open a few holes, and also give Jake Delhomme some protection to complete 5-8 passes in his time on the field, they'll earn big marks in meetings on Monday. Keydrick Vincent has been working with the 1's at the RG spot all this week, after Toniu Fonoti had the spot in the first week of camp. We'll have to keep our eyes on that spot Saturday night.

--The defensive front for the Panthers won't have Peyton Manning to deal with, but they will face the Colts starting O-Line. That's the same O-Line that provides Manning with ample time to hit receivers downfield (when he needs it of course), and also clears the way for Joseph Addai to work his magic. A nice test out of the blocks for defense on Saturday.

I'll be watching for other items as well, and have a blog update on the game Sunday or Monday.

Elsewhere, in the midst of "As the Brett Turns," I saw something even MORE ridiculous on ESPN (or ESPN2, I forget). When is "The Ocho" gonna launch, anyway?

It was the Little League World Series, but not from Williamsport, PA. No, this game was in Waco, TX. This was the LLWS Regional Championship game (or something to that effect). A LLWS REGIONAL GAME?

For starters, let me say this--I have never been an adult fan of the LLWS being televised the way it is now, kinda like the College World Series. Double elimination, showing the brackets, keeping track of the pitchers the way they do. It's frightening.

As a kid, all I ever wanted to do was play in the LLWS. I loved baseball, we had good teams, and we even made it to the Illinois regional final, and got smoked by Libertyville. I swear their pitcher had his 3 kids at the game watching him play. Anyway, that was the dream as a kid.

Now, with TV coverage, the folks back home watching, people around the country (and world) taking in these games, I can't imagine what kind of pressure cooker it is for these kids to deal with.

When I made errors in tournament games, the only people that saw were the parents from both teams, the players and the umps. I can't imagine being the kid who makes the wild throw to first, and his error costs his team a shot at the title game against Taiwan (or whoever makes it there).

Sure, the kids have a blast, and they likely don't even notice the cameras are there. Sure, it's the LLWS, and just making it there is an accomplishment. I'm sure being on ESPN is kinda cool, too. When I was a kid, the lure and luster of playing in the LLWS was that only the championship game was televised. The American team usually got crushed by the foreign visitors, and eventually, there was a camera shot of a kid from the losing side in tears. We see that now, too.

But do we need to see it in the Regional game where the kids that lose out on the shot at a LLWS title are left behind? C'mon guys, we need to let kids be kids. We don't need a sideline reporter in Waco tell us how this 11 year old left-handed hitter enjoys geometry during the school year, because it helps him figure out the bat-angle when a pitcher throws him a curve ball. Or how a right-hander on the hill looks up to Carlos Zambrano because the Big Z has "attitude."

The games will go on, the tears will fall, and the game will still be the game. I say let the kids be kids as long as they can.

This just in, Brett Favre had breakfast this morning. No word on if he had a 2nd cup of coffee, but we're working to get that information.

Mike Solarte

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