Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Been awhile....

Back after a week away, and ready to get cranked up in the football season. Some thoughts on this Tuesday morning.

The Carolina Panthers aren't into panic mode just yet, but I understand why there is so much angst amongst the fans. Defensively, the Panthers have been better than anticipated. They are getting solid play from the unproven parts on that side of the ball. Defensive line play has been good, with Everette Brown showing he was worth Carolina trading up to take him. That's a good thing, since Julius Peppers has bolted for Chicago.

Incidentally, enjoyed reading the Chicago papers, and their evaluation of Peppers play in the exhibitions. We all know the pre-season games count for nothing, but the assessments haven't changed. They Bears writers are keeping a watchful eye on big number 90. Don't be surprised if they start getting on him early if he isn't producing. Weird sighting in Chicago while I was there: the Bears jerseys with "Peppers" on the back. Weird.

The Panthers offense is still trying to find itself, and Saturday will be their last best chance to do that before the regular season begins. Thru 8 quarters, no offensive touchdowns. Granted, OT Jeff Otah, WR Steve Smith and RB Jonathan Stewart have yet to play, and their returns should provide some spark, but still, there is no game-plan in place (most everything is kept very basic in the first 2 exhibitions). Blocking, catching, throwing. Simple execution has been lacking. This group has to make some serious strides against Tennessee Saturday night.

Charlotte Bobcats have a deal in place with center Kwame Brown. On the surface, it seems like the punchline to a bad joke. Look past the selection of Brown by then Washington Wizards President Michael Jordan. Yes, that was a mistake. The 2001 draft wasn't exactly a star-studded draft. Teams got very good professionals in that draft. Very few stars have come from that class. Interestingly, 6 of that years 1st round picks have worn (or still wear) Bobcats orange.

The fact remains the Bobcats are tight to the NBA salary cap, even though they likely will get some relief with the Eric Dampier contract at some point (via trade or releasing him and his non-guaranteed contract). Brown is just 28, even though he has 9 seasons under his belt. He has never been a big time scorer, and that won't be his role in Charlotte. He is what he is at this point, so don't set the bar too high. If he plays 15 minutes, and helps out defensively, he and Head Coach Larry Brown will get along just fine.

NASCAR gets a weekend off before going to Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. Some drivers are locked into the Chase, but a dandy battle for the 12th spot shaping up between Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer. Bowyer holds the spot by 100 points with 2 races until the Chase begins. Atlanta and Richmond remain before the final 10 races take place. Those are a pair of wild-card tracks, given Atlanta's unpredictability, and the short track nature of Richmond. Anything can happen, and with the way this season has gone, fans should be ready to see anything, and everything.

More as the week goes on!

Mike Solarte

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