Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Observations of a 21-7 loss

Things I noticed during the Panthers loss to Dallas on Monday night.
  • Jake Delhomme is Carolina's best option at QB. Despite what you may read elsewhere, Delhomme gives the Panthers a chance to win. Yes, I saw that he committed 3 turnovers. I also saw that, on the first interception, Muhsin Muhammad either didn't think the ball was coming to him, or wondered why the ball was coming to him, rather than going up and trying to get the ball that was coming to him. The interception for TD was also not on Jake, as WR Steve Smith admitted he busted the route. His reason--trying to make a play. He was trying to make a play, but he didn't tell Jake that was his intention before the ball came out. The fumble at the end....on Jake or not, Carolina was down 14, and Dallas was bringing the pressure.
  • The Dallas Cowboys are in deeper trouble than even I envisioned. If they run the ball like they have the past 2 weeks, they will be tough to beat. However, saying you ran the ball well against Carolina is like saying you make great cereal. It's not hard to do.
  • Speaking of the Panthers defense, anyone seen Julius Peppers? I'll tell you what, $1 million dollars per game doesn't get you what it used to. Against Atlanta, 2 tackles. Against Dallas, 1 solo, 1 assist. At this point, Panthers fans aren't looking for Peppers to record sacks, they are looking for him to record a stat. A hurry. A pass break up. Heck, if they lined him up at fullback, they could credit him with a block. ANYTHING. I understand that Ron Meeks asks him to do several things in this defense, so I'll get off Peppers for a second, and slip this nugget to Meeks. Peppers is a pass rushing athlete. Turn him loose, and you might...just might...see him do something other than pocket a 7-figure check each week. Then again, Peppers has to want to turn it loose.
  • Coaching staff isn't immune to this diatribe. The Panthers offensive strength is running the ball. If the mix of pass play to run plays is balanced in favor of the pass, you are not who you think you are. Last night: 33 pass plays. 16 run plays. This was not 38-10 against Philadelphia. This was still a winnable game. At 13-7, running the ball was prudent. Had it worked? At times, yes. Abandoning it and leaving 2 of their weapons (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) holstered made them one-dimensional, and ultimately, predictable.
  • Is this season lost? Considering only 5 teams have started a season 0-3 and made the playoffs, it likely is. The Panthers have a bye week, then they face the Washington Redskins. Forget about soul searching. Forget about looking for answers that aren't there. Forget about changing the quarterback. What the Panthers need is to get away from football, and each other for a few days. This team needs to flush calendar 2009 (to date) out of their heads, and focus on the remaining weeks of the year. That's all they have left at this point.

Mike Solarte

Follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/MikeSolarte

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When will it stop?

Spraying to all fields....

The Panthers injury woes continued with the loss of DT Louis Leonard to a fractured ankle. He was hurt Sunday, and the team placed him on IR on Tuesday. That ends his season, and that's a shame. He was a nice acquisition, looked like he was fitting in well with the scheme in such a short amount of time. Panthers signed DT Antwon Butler on Tuesday. He's a little heavier than Leonard, but he's green in this defense.

Tough assignment for Butler this week (if he plays, which I think he will). Dallas holds the NFL total rushing lead in the NFL, but if Marion barber plays, or is even limited, that should help a bit. Not totally overlooking Tashard Choice or Felix Jones, but those 2 are not Barber. Barber runs with bad intentions, making him a beast to stop.

I was pleased with the Panthers offense against Atlanta. Only 1 INT from Jake Delhomme, and that was a nice bit of coverage from the Falcons on that play. RB's need to do a better job of securing the ball, which is a rarity when you look at DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Both have been reliable in that aspect in the past.

My friend and colleague Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald wrote a piece about what is missing from the 2008 team, and I'll go him one better. Go back to the Super Bowl team of 2003. That team, defensively, was filthy. To borrow a line from "Back to School," a movie starring Rodney Dangerfield..."those guys aren't that tough. The football team from my high school, they were tough. After they sacked the quarterback, they went after his family." There in lies the rub. This defense has good players at many spots. DE Julius Peppers, DT Damione Lewis, LB's Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, CB Richard Marshall, Chris Gamble, S Chris Harris, among others. What they lack is a snarl. Half of the battle in football is intimidation. The Panthers of 2003 were somewhat intimidating to opposing offenses. Nothing like the 1985 Chicago Bears, who I think actually did go after the families of opposing QB's. There is an attitude missing, and it's likely due to the new system being implemented by Defensive Coordinator Ron Meeks. It's not a blame, it's a reality. The players are still reading, then reacting as opposed to just reacting. That will come in time, but after an 0-2 start, time is becoming more of a liability than an asset.

Heading into Dallas this week, the Panthers are up against the wall. They need a win for a number of reasons. First of all, their record, but second, they have a bye in week 4. This is a room that can not afford to sit out week 4, steaming over what would be their 8th straight defeat in calendar 2009.

Elsewhere, Bobcats guard Raymond Felton has inked a 1 year, $5.5 million dollar qualifying offer from the Bobcats. That's the good news. The bad news is that Felton becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season. To Felton's credit, he signed the deal to remove the distraction of "what's next for Felton," before camp starts next week. The Bobcats apparently don't feel that Felton will blossom into an elite point guard. My question is this: how far off were they in the offer?

What has Felton done to not deserve a long term deal? He shows up every day, practices hard, plays hard, and I think he improved under Larry Brown last season. Now, Felton is a year into Brown's system, and style. Do people really think Felton has plateaued? I hope they don't think that, because I don't believe he has. Hopefully, the two sides will continue to talk about a long term deal for beyond 2009-2010 (if NBA rules even permit those discussions-I honestly don't know).

NASCAR has not lifted the testing ban for 2010--no teams can test at sanctioned tracks that host national touring series next season, just like 2009, but they have allowed teams to run tests at sanctioned tracks that host regional series. That means that teams, if they can afford it, will be allowed to gather data at smaller tracks. It's good and bad. No testing somewhat leveled the playing field, so the smaller operations were at less of a disadvantage. Now the big boys with the big sponsor dollars gain that edge back. In the grand scheme of things, it's a win for the teams, and fans, as the data gathered will hopefully help teams improve the racing on the track.

Tim Baier has the anchor chair this evening, as I try and recuperate from a long day Sunday in Atlanta. We'll visit with Jim Courier as the Breezeplay Championships at the Palisades get underway this week, and also, for you darts aficionados, the 2009 World Cup of Darts is taking place at the Blake Hotel in Charlotte. I wonder if the British announcer that calls the action from the TV broadcasts will be there, barking out the scoring totals. That dude sounds like he's on a 2 pack a day habit, and chasing the smoke down with pints of Guinness. It's actually really cool.

Mike Solarte

Follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/MikeSolarte

Friday, September 18, 2009

Is the ACC back?

The answer is probably a conditional yes. While the first week of the college football season saw the ACC turn in a 6-6 record which included losses to Baylor, William & Mary and Richmond, the second week showed more promise. The league ended up 9-2 in week 2, a much better showing. Of course that included nail-biters over UConn and James Madison.

The biggest reason the ACC seems to be gaining ground might be the return of the old guard. A great game between Florida State and Miami gave fans a glimpse into what the ACC used to be. And then Miami followed that up with a stellar performance against a strong Paul Johnson coached Georgia Tech squad. SEC fans have complained for years that their conference beats up on each other eliminating a number of teams from National Championship contention. I'm not saying the ACC is in that conversation yet, but the beating up on each other has begun.

East Carolina vs. UNC

North Carolina is one of the 4 ACC teams ranked in the AP Top 25, but they still have some growing room on the offensive side of the ball, especially coming off a 12 point game against UConn. The last time these two teams met was 2003 and Carolina walked away with a 28-17 win, but that was a down year for both teams. The Tar Heels traveled to Greenville for a battle of 0-5 teams, 6 years later it is a much different story. Skip Holtz' teams always seem to play up to their competition. (see Virginia Tech and West Virginia in 2008) Carolina's defense should be too much this weekend though, Heels pull away and win 17-7.

Duke vs. Kansas

This will be the first time these two programs have met on the field and Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing might have a soft spot for the Blue Devils in his heart. Duke was the only other school to offer him a scholarship, but now he's leading the 22nd ranked Jayhawks to one of their best starts in a long while. These two teams have similar numbers through the air, but on the ground Kansas averages nearly 5 times more yards. The mock quarterback contraversy that boiled up when Thad Lewis was sat last week for redshirt freshmen Sean Renfree, has seemed to taken a backseat now that Coach Cutcliffe declared Lewis his QB. His analogy relating the situation to a baseball game where Renfree can act as a reliever made sense, and isn't something coaches often talk about, but Lewis is mature enough that this could all work out. Unfortunately though Blue Devils won't have enough in Lawrence, KS and the Jayhawks win 39-24.

Gardner Webb vs. NC State

Coming off a drubbing of Murray State, the Wolfpack may make the mistake of overlooking this tough Steve Patton coached Bulldog team. Gardner Webb is 2-0 this season, their last win coming against Western Carolina 27-20. This will be the first meeting between these two programs and Gardner Webb's second chance to take on the ACC. (the last time was a hard fought battle with Georgia Tech who had to block a last second field goal to preserve a 10-7 win) The Wolfpack scored on their first 10 possesions of the game last week and they'll need a similar performance from the offense to put this Bulldog team away. While it will be tougher than last week, NC State pulls out the win 24-10 over GWU.

Elon vs. Wake Forest

This one wins the award for shortest road trip, the Phoenix will drive down I-40 to look to go 3-0 for the fist time since 1999. These two teams have met 9 times before, but none of the players or much less the coaches were alive the last time they met in 1939. The series sits at 8-0-1, the lone tie coming in a scoreless game Oct. 1, 1927. (talk about defense!) Elon is currently ranked 11th in the FCS, but the Demon Deacons are coming off an impressive come from behind win over Stanford. If Wake Forest plays all 4 quarters the Phoenix will be in trouble. Wake wins this one 35-17.

The weekend that will be

So much to do on a Friday, so let's get after it.

*** Carolina Panthers will win Sunday against Atlanta. It won't be a rout, but I think it will result in a Panthers victory. Atlanta is having issues in the secondary, and while the Panthers had issues at the QB spot last week, this shapes up well for the Panthers. I believe Jake Delhomme will live up to his promise. He's madder than a hornet about his play in his past 2 outings--he won't show it with the cameras rolling, but after spending some time around this cat, I think his blood is boiling.

To me, there is a difference in losing a playoff game, and having 8 months to wait before playing again compared to the week-to-week that is the regular season. The way Jake and company exited the post-season in January didn't sting as much last Sunday as it did the day after the loss to Arizona. The Arizona loss was ancient history before they even kicked off with Philadelphia. Fresh in their minds, though, is the loss to Philly just a week ago. If the Panthers are flat Sunday, I will be shocked.

One other note for Sunday's game, the Falcons will be wearing throwback uniforms, which should mean, red jerseys with red helmets (circa the Steve Bartkowski era). I love throwback uniforms in any sport--and yes, I even dug those ridiculous Philadelphia Eagle things that were yellow and light blue. Should be neat seeing that look in person (I will be on the field Sunday), and I know Panther fans are hoping the Falcons play like those old school Atlanta teams that, well, weren't so good in those older uniforms.

*** Drag racing fans have the weekend to enjoy the Carolina's Nationals at the ZMax Dragway in Concord. Plenty of storylines coming into this, with the start of the NHRA's version of the Chase beginning. The "Countdown to One" starts this week, and if the weather holds, the speeds should be quick. Of course, rains holding off would be helpful.

Some of teams employ, for lack of a better work, weathermen. They let the crews know the upcoming conditions, and how that can affect the racing surface. Cooler temps with humidity are prime ingredients for great speeds in drag racing. Something to keep in mind.

*** Some high school football was played in Charlotte on Thursday night, rather than the normal Friday. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools moved all CMS home games up a day, to avoid conflicts with the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana. More games to come Friday, and you can see the best of them on the Discount Tire Friday Night final at 11pm tonight. If you miss the 11pm show, check out the encore presentation, Saturday morning at 11am. "Encore presentation sounds better than re-run, right?

Have a great weekend!

Mike Solarte

Follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/MikeSolarte

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Can we move on, please?

Couple of notes from the world of sports, with a similar theme.
  • Everyone should have taken their pot-shots at Panthers QB Jake Delhomme by now. Give it a rest. The guy didn't become Jeff Lewis overnight (and yeah, I know he's played like it in his last 2 outings). Give credit where it's due. The Eagles did things on defense that surprised Head Coach John Fox. Fairly bold statement there, because he basically said they didn't prepare for everything. Jake is not without blame, but laying it all at his feet is unfair. Jake is on the hook for his share of things that went wrong, but there were others that are on the guilty list.
  • Should also point out (again), that a missed penalty might have changed the outcome. I say might, because there was so much time on the clock. Still, if the officials make the correct call on the block in the back during DeSean Jackson's punt return, it's a completely different ballgame. I am not blaming the refs for the loss--just pointing out that if they get the call right, it's still a 10-7 game, the Eagles get the ball at their own 20, and we move from there. Find me another team that doesn't panic when the opposition posts 14 points in under 3 minutes. I'll take the advice of the blog title, and move on from this....

We should also move on from these nuggets....

Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame induction speech is getting broken down, and analyzed, and ultimately ripped. Huh? When MJ was a player, fans couldn't get enough of what he had to say. He didn't stray outside the lines of basketball much, but when he spoke people listened. That was a knock on MJ in Chicago during his career. He didn't speak out against things, using his massive influence to help make changes. While I understood those wanting MJ to help make a difference, I also understood his choice not to. So, he goes to the Hall, and pokes at everyone in his life that offered him a challenge. From Buzz Peterson, to the coach at Laney H.S. in Wilmington, to Dean Smith, to Bryan Russell. MJ hit everyone. Heck he even poked at his sister for pushing him. Why are we surprised by this? Because MJ wasn't nice. That's right, he wasn't very nice in what he said.

Again. Huh?

MJ, the image, was a polished, corporate America goldmine. He could sell ice to the good people of Canada. That MJ is a nice guy.

The player was a cold-blooded killer. Not only did he want to beat you, he wanted you to know how badly he beat you. He was (and still is) a competitor. Last Friday night, MJ showed us where those fires began to burn, and now, nearly a week later, people are ripping him for it. I loved a lot of what he said, but only because we finally got to see him with his guard down a bit.

And finally, the US Open ended on Monday, but not before 2 of the games biggest names had some verbal meltdowns. Serena Williams blew up at a lines official, dropping f-bombs and allegedly threatening her. Then Roger Federer, in a discussion with the chair umpire, used some choice language in expressing his displeasure at a ruling.

Was watching some of these things play out on TV with my boss on Tuesday, and he summed it up with this beauty. "Why are people surprised when they see people who make millions of dollars as athletes, suddenly show they are competitive and don't like to lose?"

Spot on.

Mike Solarte

Monday, September 14, 2009

Well, THAT didn't work

I am not running for the hills on the Carolina Panthers, but I do know where my shoes are, just in case.

Sunday was a horrible day to be a Panther fan after about 1:45 in the afternoon. Even then, it was 3 plays that took this season opener from winnable, to completely out of reach. If the Panthers don't self destruct in a 4:59 span of the 2nd quarter, we might have a different outcome.

First play of the 2nd qtr, Jake Delhomme is sacked, and stripped of the ball, the Eagles cover it in the endzone for 6. 10-7 Philly.

After their next possession, DeSean Jackson runs back an 85 yard punt return (which, from my vantage point, should have been called back for a block in the back) for a touchdown. 17-7 Eagles.

Next Panthers possession, Delhomme is picked (a route nicely jumped by Sheldon Brown), he takes it back to the 9. Next play, 6 more, 24-7 Philly.

There is plenty of blame to go around on this one, so all the "Run Jake Outta Town" mob can zip it. Jake is to blame on the 2nd pick, and the 4th pick--those were two poor throws. The 1st INT is a deflection. If the pass is on the money, there is no guarantee Steve Smith makes the catch. That's a tough break. The 3rd pick, the Eagles forced that one. Should Jake have tucked it and taken the sack? Maybe. He was trying to make something happen. It didn't work.

People have lost sight of the fact that this was the same riverboat gambler, gun-slinging quarterback that came off the bench, and led Carolina to a come-from-behind win over Jacksonville in his first appearance as a Panther. That is the legend that was created. Jake said it himself after Sunday's loss to Philly, saying if he was worried about throwing another pick, he would be checking it down to the running back every time. That's who he is--he's gonna try and make the play.

Which way do you want it Panthers fans? Do you want a QB who plays it smart, safe, happily runs a run up the middle on 3rd and 9? Or do you want a guy that will go out, and play his guts out when all the breaks are going against him?

I'm not saying Jake is blame-less. far from it. I also don't have to [pile on, and say get rid of him. Those that are calling for him have likely never competed for anything in their lives. Knowing the sacrifices it takes to be as good as you can be prevents me from piling on.

Others to share the blame. The offensive line. Thought to be among the NFL's elite, they were below average against Philly. The looked lost. They looked unprepared. You can put the coaching staff in as ones who share the blame. The special teams were functional, except for the runback, but I still maintain there was a missed penalty there. Have to look at the game tape again to verify.

In spite of the 38 points given up, I am inclined to give the defense a pass. They allowed 24 of the points (7 from special teams, 7 from the Eagle defense), and the longest drive the Eagles had that resulted in points covered 74 yards. The Eagles total yardage covered in their 4 scoring drives? 90 yards. The defense came to play on Sunday.

All of the Panthers need to show up in Atlanta next Sunday. Without exception.

Mike Solarte

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mike, and Mike, Break Down Panthers vs. Eagles

Panthers Mike has Carolina cruising past the Eagles in Week 1 but Philly Mike isn't so sure. The dueling sports directors battle it out while breaking down the key early-season NFC matchup.

Watch the video on news14.com

Going to the weekend

Couple notes leading up to the Panthers-Eagles opener:
  • Props to the Pro Football Writers Association for naming their "Good Guy" Award in honor of the late Tom Berry. Berry was a sportswriter for the High Point Enterprise who passed away recently. always a professional in how he conducted himself, and a well-liked member of the media, Berry's work is sorely missed. Read more on this by clicking here.
  • I like the Panthers in week 1 over Philly. I don't know why. Maybe it was an extra sip of the kool-aid, I'm not sure, but there attitude with this team has changed 180 degrees since the pre-season. Other week 1 picks include:

Pittsburgh (had it last night)





New Orleans




NY Giants




San Diego

New England

  • Busy Friday in high school football, so make sure you check out the Discount Tire Friday Night Final at 11pm tonight, or 11am on Saturday for the replay. Loads of great games including Butler @ Richmond County, West Charlotte @ Independence, Shelby @ Crest and more from across the state.

Mike Solarte

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Panthers news

Quick hit after the first full day of prep work for the Panthers as they get ready for Philadephia:

  • Jonathan Stewart practiced on Wednesday, his first workout in...heck, I really don't know...forever. Head Coach John Fox said afterwards that Stewart looked great. Players we spoke with said having Stewart back on the field is a nice lift, provided he can play Sunday. C Ryan Kalil and others said they enjoyed ribbing Stewart for missing the time, but in the end, having #28 on the field is better than the alternative. We'll wait and see if he goes this weekend.
  • Defensively, LB Jon Beason and S Charles Godfrey also practiced, Beason wearing a brace, Godfrey experimenting with a cast to cover his surgically repaired hand. Beason called himself "bionic," but Godfrey reminded everyone that he has the metal plate in his hand, thus making him more bionic than his teammate. Godfrey also mentioned that he hasn't felt any pain in the time he's been recovering from the surgery, so he's virtually at 100%.
  • Having all the defensive starters on the field was a new look for Kalil, considering the starters haven't all been on the field at the same time since the opening week. Questions remain about the strength of the defensive tackles, but Damione Lewis sounded very confident about the abilities of Louis Leonard and Nick Hayden.
  • Panthers 2009 captains are: QB Jake Delhomme, LT Jordan Gross, LB Beason, DE Julius Peppers, and K John Kasay.

Mike Solarte

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Panthers-Eagles preps

Carolina Panthers fans are worried.


They are worried that their team, the one that went 12-4 last season, and return 20 of 22 starters from that team (it would have been 21 had DT Maake Kemoeatu not gone done on the first day of training camp).

Hate to say it, but there might be cause for concern.

The reasons are this: The Panthers defense didn't have the kind of bite it has had under John Fox down the stretch in 2008. They gave up lots of points, and loads of rushing yards. Those rush yard totals ballooned when Kemoeatu and DT Damione Lewis were slowed by injuries. Only half of that tandem returns to start 2009, and the guys playing alongside Lewis aren't the wide bodies that Kemo is. That is not to say anything of their ability--we've only seen those guys minimally in the pre-season, and even then, they were also under fire without LB Jon Beason on the field, and LB Thomas Davis was slowed by injury in the exhibitions as well. Getting those guys back (whether it be week 1, or beyond), will help the defense immensely. How well the DT's plug the gaps in the middle will go a long way in determining how good the defense can be. I am less concerned about the linebackers and secondary, than I am about the front 4. In this case, time will tell.

As for the offense, they, too, were shorthanded in the pre-season. WR Steve Smith only played sparingly, RB Jonathan Stewart has been on the shelf much of 2009 with the achilles injury. Having Smith back at full strength adds the Panthers kind of kick to the receiving corps. Muhsin Muhammad will continue to be a reliable pass-catcher, and an even better run blocker. Dwayne Jarrett needs to show more, but as it stands now, he's a number 3 receiver. I applauded Jarrett last season for making big catches on 3rd down--something many fans seem to forget--and he could become a touchdown catching receiver, but he has to earn the chance to be on the field. Kenny Moore has earned his spot on this roster, thanks to a very solid camp, and pre-season. How many chances he gets on game days (in the offense), remains to be seen. He capitalized on those chances in the exhibitions, though. Perhaps he'll get some tosses when the games count.

The special teams have just 1 x-factor, and that is newcomer J.J. Jansen as the long snapper. He replaces Jason Kyle, who signed as a free agent with New Orleans. If you didn't know who the Panthers long snapper was before, that's a good thing. It means Kyle did his job well, which he did for virtually his entire time with the Panthers. John Kasay will continue to be a solid placekicker, Rhys Lloyd will continue to boom kicks deep, and Jason Baker's arsenal of punts will continue to make him a threat. Kick coverage may need to improve as well, after giving up a punt return for TD against Pittsburgh. That first team coverage unit, I suspect, will be better, with all of its working parts on the field.

Summing up this quickie preview, the Panthers have players in place that they can be a contender to win their division. Other teams have improved, which makes the road tougher. Carolina's opener against a traditionally good Philly team will provide a nice test for this team.

One other factor about Sunday, which is a nice bonus for the coaching staff--they do not have to prepare for the Eagles with Michael Vick in uniform. Vick will miss the first 2 games of the season, as part of his reinstatement by Commissioner Roger Goodell. The intake of aspirin will be down for the coaches, thanks to that ruling, and it removes at least a Vick-run "wildcat" offense from Philly's game plan.

We'll talk to the Panthers on Wednesday, and have their take on the season opener for you on Sports Night at 10.

Mike Solarte

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reviewing the Roster, at 51 as I head to bed.

These were the men released by the Panthers on Saturday. 23 in all, plus DT Corvey Irvin placed on IR due to an injured knee suffered against Pittsburgh on Thursday night (copied from the Panthers release):

Justin Geisinger, OL Vanderbilt
Kevin Kaesviharn, S Augustana

Larry Beavers, WR Wesley College
DeCori Birmingham, RB Arkansas (Injured)
Casper Brinkley, DL South Carolina
Patrick Brown, OL Central Florida
Hunter Cantwell, QB Louisville
Jason Chery, WR Louisiana-Lafayette
Paul Chiara, S Syracuse
DJ Clark, DB Idaho State
Andrew Davie, TE Arkansas
Marlon Favorite, DT LSU
Joe Fields, DB Syracuse
Keith Gray, OL Connecticut
Anthony Heygood, LB Purdue
George Hypolite, DT Colorado
Mortty Ivy, LB West Virginia
Jamall Lee, RB Bishop’s University
Jeremy Leman, LB Illinois
Kevin McMahan, WR Maine
Marcus Monk, WR Arkansas
Jonathan Palmer, OL Auburn
Kelvin Smith, LB Syracuse

Corvey Irvin, DT Georgia

Based on my previous post, Hilee Taylor made the roster, while Marlon Favorite, Casper Brinkley and Jeremy Leman did not.

As it is now, the Panthers have issues at DT, as they kept just 3, while holding onto 5 DE. There are also some concerns about the return game, as Mike Goodson, Kenny Moore and Captain Munnerlyn all had moments that had the coaches a little nervous handling those duties during the regular season. Tennessee cut former Panther PR Mark Jones on Friday. It wouldn't surprise me if he ended up back in Charlotte this week. If memory serves, though, Jones had hamstring issues during the Titans camp.

I won't pretend to know who the team might have their eyes on, nor will I think for one second that all 51 of the players that currently reside on this version of the roster will be on the team once prep week for Philly commences on Tuesday. There are 2 available roster spots to fill, and with all of the league's teams trimming down to 53, there are guys out there that the Panthers could employ.

Sunday, the Panthers will set their practice squad. I would think that most, if not all, of their PS guys will come from the list seen above.

The roster as it stands:

QB (3) -Jake Delhomme, Josh McCown, Matt Moore
RB (3) -DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson
FB (2) -Brad Hoover, Tony Fiametta
WR (4) -Steve Smith, Muhsin Muhammad, Kenny Moore, Dwayne Jarrett
TE (3) - Jeff King, Gary Barnidge, Dante Rosario
OL (9) - Jordan Gross, Travelle Wharton, Ryan Kalil, Keydrick Vincent, Jeff Otah, Mackenzy Bernardeau, Geoff Schwartz, Duke Robinson, Garry Williams

DL (8) - Julius Peppers, Tyler Brayton, Damione Lewis, Louis Leonard, Nick Hayden, Hilee Taylor, Everette Brown, Charles Johnson
LB (6) - Jon Beason, Na'il Diggs, Thomas Davis, Dan Connor, James Anderson, Landon Johnson
DB (9) - Chris Gamble, Richard Marshall, Charles Godfrey, Chris Harris, Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn, Dante Wesley, C.J. Wilson, Quinton Teal

P-Jason Baker
PK - John Kasay
KO- Rhys Lloyd
LS - J.J. Jansen

Stay tuned, moves will be coming in the days ahead.

Mike Solarte

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Panthers Cut day

Carolina Panthers cuts are coming this afternoon--perhaps they have already come down, just not released yet. In any event, my 53 man roster looks like this (based on who was in camp, barring any late acquisitions):

QB (3) -Jake Delhomme, Josh McCown, Matt Moore
RB (3) -DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson
FB (2) -Brad Hoover, Tony Fiametta
WR (4) -Steve Smith, Muhsin Muhammad, Kenny Moore, Dwayne Jarrett
TE (3) - Jeff King, Gary Barnidge, Dante Rosario
OL (9) - Jordan Gross, Travelle Wharton, Ryan Kalil, Keydrick Vincent, Jeff Otah, Mackenzy Bernardeau, Geoff Schwartz, Duke Robinson, and either Gary Williams or Justin Geisinger (I'm not sure on the 9th man)

DL (9) - Julius Peppers, Tyler Brayton, Damione Lewis, Louis Leonard, Nick Hayden, Marlon Favorite, Corvey Irvin, Everette Brown, Charles Johnson
LB (7) - Jon Beason, Na'il Diggs, Thomas Davis, Dan Connor, James Anderson, Landon Johnson, Jeremy (J) Leman
DB (9) - Chris Gamble, Richard Marshall, Charles Godfrey, Chris Harris, Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn, Dante Wesley, C.J. Wilson, Quinton Teal

P-Jason Baker
PK - John Kasay
KO- Rhys Lloyd
LS - J.J. Jansen

We'll see how close we are on this once the final cuts come down, as they are expected around 6 p.m.

Mike Solarte

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Well, that didn't take long.

The Carolina Panthers have named Danny Morrison as the new Team President, just one day after Mark Richardson resigned from that post.

Morrison will leave his post as Director of Athletics at Texas Christian University, and begin his new gig in about a month. From the Panthers release:

"Morrison’s direct relationship with the Panthers organization began in the team’s inaugural 1995 season at Wofford College. As Director of Athletics he oversaw a fundraising effort that enabled the school to refurbish its facilities to host an NFL training camp. The Panthers just completed their 15th year at Wofford and the training camp is regarded among the best in the NFL. "

Among Morrison's other credentials, he is a former Commissioner of the Southern Conference.

I can't help myself, but there is more going on here than a sudden resignation by Mark Richardson on Tuesday. The news of his departure caught a lot of people by surprise, no doubt. However, to have a person in place roughly 24 hours after the news of Mark's leaving broke makes one, like me, think that this was a move that was coming for a while.

There are more levels to this story that may never be told. The only ones that can offer up the truth on it are the Richardson's. Only those three (and maybe others in the family), know the real story behind this. I have always applauded Jerry Richardson for being the "anti-Jerry Jones" owner. He stays out of the spotlight. He hires good people for his football team. He is "fans first." He doesn't need media vindication for his operation for personal satisfaction.

I can't imagine Jerry Richardson standing in front of a sea of microphones to explain why his sons are no longer an active part of the family business, especially if there is some disharmony within that family. I know I couldn't talk about it, and I don't expect him to either.

The speculation will continue, however, until one of the three addresses it.

Mike Solarte

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What the???

So much for a normal Tuesday. I'm out running some errands, and my twitter feed starts blowing up.

OK, the Panthers finally traded for some help at defensive tackle, acquiring Louis Leonard from Cleveland for an undisclosed draft pick. I get that. The move brings in a body weighing 325 lbs, and at 25, could help greatly to plug the D-Line gaps.

Then, both Richardson sons, Mark and John resign from the Panthers front office without much of an explanation. Huh? Really?

From an outsider standpoint, this looks like there is an issue within the family. Since Jerry Richardson has been recovering (and even before his heart transplant on Super Bowl Sunday), Mark (as President) and John (as Stadium President), have overseen virtually all of the day-to-day operations of the club. It makes me wonder if Jerry (the biggest cat in the den) has said something to both about stepping down from their posts.

Lots of digging to be done on this one, and once I get a shower, I'll get my gloves on and get after it.

Oh, yeah, happy Tuesday everyone!

Mike Solarte