We’ll start with the latter – Dwayne Jarrett.
A little less than one year ago, the Carolina Panthers took Jarrett in the second round of the draft. Hopes were high that the team had finally found their number two receiver to play opposite Steve Smith.
Instead, Jarrett struggled to learn the playbook and adjust to the NFL. He remained inactive for much of the season and his production was nearly non-existent. Fans had to be asking themselves if not only they, but the team, were sorry they had taken Jarrett with that draft pick.
Then the real fun began last month when DJ was charged with driving while impared. Forget the playbook, legal troubles had to trump the problems he had with fitting in last year.
Coach John Fox was quoted by the Charlotte Observer as he summed up the DWI.
“What happened to him, we take very seriously. We take great steps to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
I take the coach’s statement seriously too. But instead of the team having to babysit Jarrett to make sure he doesn’t do that again, maybe Jarrett should be the one who is taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
First, he couldn’t learn a playbook. Then he gave a police officer a nice number to read on a breathalyzer test. I’d say he hasn’t exactly displayed the qualities of a great player, a hard worker or the kind of person you want to be relying on come Sunday.
Maybe that will change. Let’s hope so. Maybe the team could begin counting on him as a receiving threat. The job gets even harder for him this season with the offseason additions of both Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett. Now he’ll have to fight twice as hard for playing time.
“He’s flashed; he has the ability,” Fox said. “He’s just got to be able to do it consistently. Hopefully, that comes with experience and growth.
“We’re in a wait-and-see mode.”
I think we’re all in a wait-and-see mode with Jarrett. We’re all waiting to see if he’s more like one USC alum - Keyshawn Johnson - than he is another USC alum – Mike Williams. Let’s hope he’s more like the former than he is the latter.
The man throwing the passes to Jarrett has also been the subject of much scrutiny this offseason thanks to his rehab on that right elbow. But there is good news, Panthers fans!
Jake Delhomme is set to start throwing a real football today!
If I could only get into Bank of America Stadium today, I’d be able to see Jake throwing that real football under the watchful eye of trainer Ryan Vermillion. But they don’t allow internet hacks like myself to get into the building unless we have a ticket to get in. And they don’t sell tickets to events like this.
All we can do is sit back quietly and hope that the news is good. Hearing that he threw the ball well and with velocity would be music to the ears of all Panthers fans. But getting word that his throws lacked zip would be devastating.
To be sure, Jake needs to show that he’s going to be ready to make the comeback next year. He’s 33 years old which is measure sort of like dog years for quarterbacks…well, for any football player. That makes him something like 147 years old.
If he’s not ready, if any part of this rehab goes badly and he isn’t exactly 100 percent, we all know what happens. And we don’t want any part of that again.
Sure, I like Matt Moore. But I’d much rather have the guy under center who played a huge role in getting this team to two NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl. And I think the coaches, the team and especially the receivers want him back there too.
Coach Fox expects the Ragin’ Cajun to be back under center again next year. He’s told the national media that he is comfortable going into next season with Delhomme, Moore and Basanez. He doesn’t see a reason to add a veteran. The door has still been left open for the addition of a rookie from the draft.
Whatever happens, one thing is sure – coach Fox caught a lot of heat for the way the 2007 season fell apart. Maybe Jerry Richardson didn’t consider making a change. But if Jake isn’t ready and, more importantly, if it all falls apart because the team was relying on a previously injured quarterback who isn’t recovered, coach Fox could be in the unemployment line by early 2009.
Early reports of Jake’s rehab make me believe they’ll both be back in Charlotte after next season. I can’t be so sure about Jarrett.