What’s Next?

With the Lockout coming to an end soon, we Carolina Panthers fans are left to wonder “What’s Next?”

There are many questions left unanswered by this lockout, and training camps are needed to answer the questions. Questions such as: Who will be the Panthers starting Quarterback? Where will Steve Smith be playing next year? Will the defensive line step up with Charles Johnson at the helm? All these question can be answered with time.

The biggest issue at hand revolves around the Quarterback position. With the #1 overall pick in this years draft, the Carolina Panthers selected Cam Newton of Auburn. It is old news, I know, but now we must learn if he is ready to take the helm of the team.

Last year, the Panthers selected Jimmy Clausen in the second round, and after a lackluster rookie season, they found it necessary to draft a QB #1 overall. But, don’t count Clausen out of the picture. Troy Aikman had a disappointing rookie season with a 0-11 record and a completion percentage of 52.9%. Adding to that horrendous percentage, he had 9 TD’s compared to 18 INT’s. Therefore, Clausen’s rookie season cannot be a complete judge of his talent. If the Cowboys had done what the Panthers just did, would they have all the Super Bowls? Without training camps taking place yet, we do not have an idea of what will happen. Expect an amazing competition for the starting QB job.

The question everyone is speculating on revolves around Steve Smith. Smith is on the decline in his career and doesn’t fit with the youth movement occurring in Charlotte. That doesn’t mean the Panthers want to get rid of him. Steve Smith is possibly the best Panther ever; yet, it seems like Smith may want to move to a different team. This is an issue that can only be answered by the end of the lockout. I know we all want Steve Smith to stay in the blue, but I’m supporting whatever the staff decides.

Last year was a break out year for Charles Johnson. Johnson was 5th in the NFL with 11.5 sacks, and actually had more sacks than Mr. Julius Peppers. Johnson, if he remains with the team, could be the new leader of the defensive line. Late in the draft the Panthers added DT’s Terrell McClain and Sione Fua. Neither of these DT’s are exactly scary or huge, but they have potential. McClain has spoken to the press already, and his drive may be his saving grace. It seems as though McClain thinks he can play better than some of the defensive lineman taken in the first round. If this turns out to be true, the Panthers will have a nasty d-line on their hands. The Panthers just need one of these players to act as a leader throughout the season. Charles Johnson is our man for that job, He has the talent and the drive and will prove to be a better player than Peppers.

Now begins the waiting game. All of these questions will be answered in the following weeks when the Lockout is over. Until then, contemplate on what free agents we need to improve this great organization. Until next time, keep reading.

Topics: Cam Newton, Charles Johnson, Jimmy Clausen, Julius Peppers, NFL Lockout, Sione Fua, Steve Smith, Terrell McClain, Troy Aikman

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