Carolina Panthers Training Camp Preview: Receivers Part 1

DENVER - OCTOBER 05: Dexter Jackson #10 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fields a punt against the Denver Broncos during NFL action on October 5, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Buccaneers 16-13. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Yes, today it’s receivers. The word encompasses tight ends and wideouts and clumps them into one group: receivers. Kind of bland, but the product within is quite fascinating.

The wideouts have one tested and proven receiver, who earned his stripes a long time ago. The tight ends are still looking for the one player who, in the sense, has the potential to be an every down target.

Most would agree that wide receiver was the Carolina Panthers’ biggest need going into the 2010 offseason and NFL Draft. In some ways the fans got more than they bargained for, and in some ways they were left wanting more.

I classify myself as one who was left wanting more.

LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell, was a good draft pick. Some would say it was a great pick, but I say it was good. Mainly because of his injury past. Injuries scare me. They keep me on edge, making me wonder how this selection will pan out. At this point I’m hoping for the best, but preparing for what I hope doesn’t occur — the worst.

LaFell has great blocking abilities, and is a fast receiver. Combined, He is like Moose 10.0. He has great straight-line speed, and blocking capabilities. My question is, can he go across the middle and make a catch in traffic? Because it’s not always going to be straight-line or curl routes that he’s running, fending off one or two defenders.

The Panthers’ next pick in the third-round, was Appalachian State quarterback, Armanti Edwards. Edwards was an interesting pick at first. Initially, I thought he was being drafted to compete with the quarterbacks. Then I learned he was a player in transition, moving from quarterback to learn the wide receiver position.

Suffice to say, Edwards is a project at this point. Depending on his learning capacity and rate of transition, will determine when he plays and how often he sees the field. To start things off, Edwards is primed to be the teams primary kickoff returner. Depending on how quickly he learns the offense, he might be used at times as a slot receiver.

Competition at wide receiver is rather thick this year. One thing Carolina did, was address an area that was an obvious problem over the past couple of years (Steve Smith aside).

When I look at the stock of wideouts, I’m both blown away and very excited to see how this all comes together in the weeks ahead. There are five guys who attended a post-secondary school in the Carolina’s, which is neat, considering it’s “hometown” talent.

Also, have we forgotten Dexter Jackson, or has he completely fallen off the map with all the hype between Edwards and LaFell? Jackson is another guy whom the Panthers scooped up from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a couple years ago, but he and Edwards spent some time together on the same Appalachian State team for at least two years.

And then there is Dwayne Jarrett. Most fans have given up on him, a lot of fans are sick of reading his name, but he is still on the team, and having received very little attention (outside of being named a bust), is looking to turn things around on his end and have a productive 2010. He is in a contract year, after all. How will the pressure of playing for a new contract and more importantly, competing against some rookie talent that is showing more promise than he is, affect him?

Receivers Charly Martin and Kenneth Moore are looking to remain on the team as well, and could likely find a home once again in Carolina, though with such a large number of receivers in camp this year, it’s hard to say Martin and K. Moore will be a lock to make the roster.

David Gettis, Trent Guy, and Oliver Young are the other three rookies trying to carve out a niche in the NFL.

Former New York Jet Wallace Wright has a feeling that he might see some time at wide receiver too, but right now has been issued the special teams title, so we’ll see what happens there, too.

Steve Smith. 89. Need I say more?

Yeah, I guess I should. It’s been rumored that Smith could return to action a week before regular season, but do we really want to see Smith running routes in an absolutely meaningless preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers — a team the Panthers face late in regular season?

No, we don’t need to see what he can do. We are quite familiar with 89’s skill set, and risking a blue chip player to injury (if Fox even plays the starting lineup in game four of preseason) in a stupid exhibition game would be nothing short of insane.

We all know that telling Smith to take it easy after he’s been cleared to play, doesn’t work. Smith has two speeds: fast and faster. So here’s to hoping the front office, coaching staff, medical staff, whoever it needs to be; hits the brakes on this idea of allowing Smitty to play in the final preseason game.

Tight Ends edition of the training camp preview will be available this afternoon.

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Tags: Armanti Edwards Brandon LaFell Carolina Panthers Charly Martin David Gettis Dexter Jackson Dwayne Jarrett Kenneth Moore NFL Olver Young Steve Smith Training Camp Preview Trent Guy Wallace Wright

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