Hackett on the Outside

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djhackett2.jpgWhen the Carolina Panthers signed D.J. Hackett, they were filling a need position.  The team had been in search of someone to help elevate their offense.  But they may have been looking for more than that.

Dwayne Jarrett’s recent off-field problems and Muhsin Muhammad’s age could be issues, though Muhammad will almost assuredly be a major player in the offense.

With some question marks at the receiver position even before the team released Drew Carter and Keary Colbert, Jarrett’s problems simply helped to emphasize the issue.  The question had to be asked if Jarrett was going to be their guy.  He had problems learning the playbook and, as a result, his playing time was sparce in ’07.

Then came the DWI.

Team officials have assured us that Jarrett would be a primary target in the passing game and that his problems would not lessen his role in the offense.

However, the message sent to Hackett’s agent, Kevin Robinson, would indicate other wise.

There’s a good chance he will be the team’s starter opposite Steve Smith. In fact, Robinson said the Panthers assured Hackett that he would be their No. 2 receiver.

“That’s what they told him,” Robinson said.

However, Marty Hurney wasn’t ready to declare Hackett the starter, although clearly he is in the mix.

“He is a guy who has been productive in this league and is someone we feel can come in and compete for the No. 2 spot,” said Panthers general manager Marty Hurney.  (Gaston Gazette)

It ceratinly sounds like Hackett is “in the mix” if his agent gets an assurance from the team like that one.

The perception of Hackett has been that he is injury prone.  He has missed 13 games over the last two seasons.  But his agent says otherwise.

“He wasn’t hurt,” Robinson said. “But they needed the roster spot so they stashed him on IR. That’s the funny thing, now there’s a perception he’s injury prone.”

We know when he’s healthy that D.J. can make plays.  He’s proven that.  But he should get the opportunity to prove to everyone that he’s able to stay healthy and on the field next season.  And if he’s healthy, the competition could be fierce.

Sure, with a lot of hard work Jarrett could still wrestle the number two spot away.  Muhammad has an edge because of experience.  But it may be Hackett’s job.

Where would this leave everyone else?  With Hackett as the team’s starter outside, Jarrett or Moose would have to play in the slot.  And there’s always the option to move them around in a three-receiver set.

No matter what happens and no matter who starts where, this could be an interesting battle in training camp to watch.

Welcome to Carolina, D.J.!

More to come in Quick Hits…

Greg Knapp, the Raiders offensive coordinator says that JaMarcus Russell “is not close to weighing 300 pounds.”

The trade talks between the Raiders and Falcons that would send DeAngelo Hall to Oakland have stalled.  The trade called for the Raiders to reach a deal with the vocal player prior to making it official.  They’ve had trouble in their negotiations.  Hall wants a lot of coin – something like what Asante Samuel got.  Al Davis will have to go back to the drawing board if he wants to make the deal.

The Ocho Cinco drama continues to play out.  Asked early Tuesday where he’d like to play in 2008, Chad Johnson answered “where I can win a playoff game and get to the Super Bowl.”

The Jets and Laveranues Coles are reportedly close to reaching a deal that would convince Coles to report to the club’s offseason program.  Besides Laveranues Coles, DL Dewayne Robertson was the only other Jet absent from the start of the team’s voluntary offseason conditioning program.  Robertson was in Denver for a physical last week.  Maybe a deal is in the works.

Police claim Texans’ receiver Jacoby Jones was asleep at the wheel with his car in drive and his foot on the brake when they pulled him over for DWI Sunday.  Except if he was already stopped, how did they pull him over?  He wasn’t moving, right?

The Cardinals are optimistic that they can keep both Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

Former Packers first-round pick Ahmad Carroll is currently playing for the Arena League’s Orlando Predators.

The San Francisco Chronicle confirms that the Raiders are actively shopping CB Fabian Washington.

Coach Mike Shanahan personally phoned free agent FB Cecil Sapp on Monday to submit the Broncos’ latest contract proposal.

Ellis Wyms’ one-year contract with Minnesota is worth $1.5 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus.

The Browns and Lions’ interest in free agent WR Troy Brown has reportedly cooled.  Rumors exist that the Jets might be interested.

The 49ers have signed guard Qasim Mitchell who was out of football last year.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers D.J. Hackett Dwayne Jarrett Kevin Robinson Muhsin Muhammad Steve Smith

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