Brandon LaFail? Really?

Already? Surely, it’s too early to be making such bold nicknames, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard this one being used. While I am willing to give Brandon LaFell due time to develop into what most of us hope will be a starting-caliber receiver opposite the “dull, untalented, second-rate and other” Steve Smith, I will incredulously entertain the 50/50 possibility that the Panthers may have drafted a third dud as a successor to Muhsin Muhammad.

I’m certain I have already drawn the ire of most readers just having read the title to this piece. However, it is a feasible question, even after having only played in one preseason game. Because how can you as a proponent of LaFell have so much confidence in him and not allow someone, a potential opponent of LaFell, to have extreme doubts?

Ultimately, I want what every fan of the Carolina Panthers wants, in a legitimate receiving threat opposite the one who has his own rule known loud and clear throughout the NFL; the rule that has no exception: “89.”

At this point, it’s looking like the race for the No. 2 receiver job is truly between Kenny Moore and Dwayne Jarrett, than Brandon LaFell and Wallace Wright. Between Jarrett and Moore, I would say that at this time, Moore has the upper hand on Jarrett. He showed more upside than Jarrett did against the Ravens.

As much as I would like to say that D.J. makes a good case with the 18-yard catch he made, it was negated by a holding penalty, so it doesn’t count. Technically.

Armanti Edwards is a project and will require a lot of time in making the transition from quarterback to receiver. Which is fine, for now.

So the concern with LaFell is throughout his college career, he had a habit — a bad habit — of not being a consistent receiver who had a lot of dropped passes. His heart and drive were questioned as well. He’s shown those bad habits of dropped passes at times throughout mini camps and training camp.

While I do hold Carolina’s scouts and front office in high regard, and consider it one of the better front offices in the league, nothing is fool-proof.

To date, two receivers from USC didn’t or haven’t panned out as hoped. Jarrett believes he’s ready to step up, but he didn’t show enough proof of that on Thursday night, and he had a decent amount of reps.

The consensus on LaFell has quieted down some, as some folks are realizing that LaFell is going to need time, while others might be fearing the worst already, that the Panthers have in fact drafted another promising receiver who is a stud on paper, but a dud on the field.

How can anyone not legitimately fear the worst? Since the first time the Panthers sent Muhammad packing, there hasn’t been a receiver with the ability to step in and fill the departed receiver’s shoes.

Keary Colbert, the other USC receiver in question, was nothing of what he looked to be coming out of college. Drew Carter was okay, but he too had his lapses. So bad it was, that two years ago the Panthers brought Moose back home. And he still outplayed the underlings of Jarrett and the injury-prone free agent acquisition of D.J. Hackett.

So whether it’s Jarrett, Kenny Moore, Wright, or LaFell who step up and take on the responsibility, there are still some big shoes to be filled. Moose wasn’t as outspoken as Smitty has been; he let his play do all his talking. So far, I still hear the chirping of crickets when it comes to this team’s four possibilities as the No. 2 guy. Right now, I see nothing that impresses me. Right now, hope is currently the No. 2 receiver in Carolina…until someone makes it their business to take the job.

As for LaFell, time will tell. It is too early to label him a bust.

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Tags: Brandon LaFell Carolina Panthers D.J. Hackett Drew Carter Dwayne Jarrett Keary Colbert Kenny Moore Muhsin Muhammad NFL Steve Smith Wallace Wright

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