Carolina Panthers Training Camp Preview: Special Teams

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 17: Wallace Wright #15 of the New York Jets carries the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during their preseason game on August 17, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets won 31-16. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

This is it; the last preview before training camp kicks off today!

Today we look at special teams, which was an area of top priority (even more than receiver) going into Carolina’s offseason. The special teams unit ranked — literally — as one of the NFL’s worst in 2009. Hopefully 2010 will provide better results.

I’ve been told I was a little harsh on Captain Munnerlyn during my preview of the defensive backs. I got to thinking about it last night, and realized that yeah, I suppose I was, since I was jumping the gun and talking about his return performance well in advance of the special teams preview.

Munnerlyn’s got fire and so long as he’s not used in the return game this season, should be fine.

The Panthers’ acquiring of Wallace Wright, Aaron Francisco, and Marcus Hudson are all attempts to solidify the return game or defend agaisnt the the opponents’ return game in some way.

Wright and Francisco excelled on special teams — Wright with the New York Jets and Francisco with the Arizona Cardinals.

Carolina also has Dexter Jackson, who could see some time as a return man, and it’s been rumored that rookie receiver Armanti Edwards will see a lot of time as a returner, too.

At punter and placekicker, the Panthers have Jason Baker and old reliable, John Kasay.

A surprising move by Carolina during an offseason that saw so many older veterans kicked to the curb, was the retaining of Kasay.

Carolina’s long snapper stands alone on an island: J.J. Jansen.

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Tags: Aaron Francisco Armanti Edwards Captain Munnerlyn Dexter Jackson J.J. Jansen Jason Baker John Kasay Marcus Hudson Special Teams Training Camp Preview Wallace Wright

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  • John

    The best thing we can say about Jansen is we really didn’t hear anything about him last season. For long snappers no news is very good news.

    I really feel like the team did it’s best to shore up special teams on the players side. Wright and Francisco should make an immediate impact. It will be interesting to see what Rodgers does in his first stint as the guy making the special teams calls. A little trivia – he was Drew Brees center in high school.

    I wasn’t surprised Kasay survived the purge and really when you look at it overall his stats last year were in line with his career numbers but it’s obvious his range ain’t what it was. It is definitely time to be finding the next guy. Barring a total meltdown though I think the job is his until he doesn’t want it. A lockout next year would probably be a career ender.

    • Eric Quackenbush

      That’s my thing with Kasay. He doesn’t have the range that he used to. And when the team has to carry an extra placekicker because the punter can’t get it out as far on kickoffs either, then it’s time to…well…ya know. Because that’s also not the punter’s job.

  • John

    I can agree with all that

    • Eric Quackenbush

      Me too. :)

  • J. Gore

    Thanks for lightning up on the Captain Eric. I really think he’s gonna turn some heads this year. Sounds like Armanti Edwards is having trouble holding onto the kicks. I know it’s only day one but why not let Dexter Jackson be that guy. After all he’s the only guy in Tampa’s history to take one to the house. That’s gotta count for something. I still can’t believe those fans had to wait that long to see one brought back for six. We have been lucky to have the return game we’ve had through the years. Michael Bates, Ray Caeruth, “The Rocket”, and Smitty. Does anyone remember 89′s first time touching the ball for the Panthers? It was a return to the house. The last few seasons we haven’t had the big return threat but J.R. has always seemed committed to us having great special teams since day one. If we continue to struggle here I don’t think we’ll have to wait till next season to get it fixed. If Armanti can’t get it done then look into the # of guys that will have their shot. Jackson, Gettis, Wright, Guy, and the list goes on. Man I’m glad to see camp finally here. I’m gonna try and make my way south to see them for a weekend if the finances will permit. But if not I’ll be tuned in to the crave for updates on what you guys have to say. Can’t express how glad I am that I found your site guys. There were a couple guys posting on Darin Gantt’s blog’s of how they we’re starved for info. I tried to post on there to let them know about catcrave but since i’ don’t have a pc i couldn’t post to their column. Now you guys know why I’m so long winded. lol I’ve had to keep my thoughts to myself and my few friends that also support the cats. Panthers in 2010-2011!!!

    • Eric Quackenbush

      Wow, well we’re certainly glad you found the site! If it wasn’t for you and John, it would get mighty quiet around here. I always appreciate feedback!

  • easya

    Cant wait for the season to start I think Edwards is going to be huge in the return game !!! And as far as Kasay I love him man he the only original panther left… I know its just about time for him to hang it up but i dont want us to just dump him… dont want us to do like the braves did maddux or smoltzy… I’m a loyal fan and I cant complain about Kasay at all he has been our leading scorer in several games !!!

    • Eric Quackenbush

      I understand all of that with Kasay, but at the same time I have no emotional attachment to the guy. Especially when from 45+ yards out, that’s the “cover-your-eyes” range.

      Kasay’s a great guy, solid member of the team, has never created a ruckus, and does his job. However, it’s time to get his successor in the door and move ahead. I wouldn’t say this if Kasay had the leg he had five years ago.