Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Late Monday/Early Tuesday

Knocking out some quick thoughts before bed.
  • Panthers owner Jerry Richardson visited the team during Monday morning's workout. Great sign seeing the Big Cat at camp, chatting with players and coaches. Another indication that the new heart is doing its job. The donor organ had to be something special for this special man. So far, so good. It will be great seeing him more and more, now that the season is fast approaching. Here's to continued positive recovery for a man who has done far more good for the NFL, and North Carolina than so many other owners combined. Richardson gets it, and fans should take notice and applaud him. If you did before, ramp it up a bit. He's more than deserving.
  • Steve Smith went down with an injured shoulder. Word in the Twitterverse is that it's a shoulder strain (per his agent via Charles Chandler). Would keep him out of action for a minimum of 2 weeks. While no player wants to be banged up, this could be a blessing for Smith. The offense isn't radically different, thanks to continuity from Offensive Coordinator Jeff Davidson. Smith knows the system. He is the unquestioned leader of the receiving corps. Should he miss the pre-season, the only thing he'll miss is being knocked around in games that mean zero. Smith is not a guy that NEEDS to practice. He wants to, because he's a competitor. He won't benefit much from running all those routes in practices, and getting a couple catches in the exhibitions. Could be a blessing in disguise for him, and the offense as a whole. The Panthers "run first" mentality is priority one. Smith has done a better job as a blocker in those sets, so again, he'll miss practicing his run-blocking in the pre-season. Not the worst thing in the world. The injury is a concern, but in the big picture, that concern should be mild, provided the injury isn't more severe.
  • Panthers have just one practice set for Tuesday, at 3pm. Should be another hot one out there, but the team can start looking ahead to an opponent. They will be 7 days out from their first exhibition game, and with the rash of injuries that have hit their starters, look for the depth chart to get a lot of looks. In case you've overlooked them, the injuries have been: LB Thomas Davis, LB Jon Beason, DT Maake Kemoeatu (out for year), S Nate Salley, RB Jonathan Stewart, RB DeAngelo Williams, and now Smith. Injuries happen in football, it can't be avoided. Those players that aren't listed as "ones" will have more than their fair share of work now in practices, and in pre-season games, to show their stuff.

Bottom line on the pre-season is this. Exhibition ANYTHING is meaningless. The Panthers can go oh-fer in the pre-season, and it ultimately won't mean anything. Sure, the players and coaches want to win. As Nuke LaLoosh of Bull Durham fame once said, "I love winning. It's like better than losing." That matters in the real year.

Mike Solarte

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