Training camps are in full swing, and preseason games start tonight. It has felt as though we entered heaven in the past few weeks. We entered the free agency as heart broke fans, worried that a season would never take place. But here we are, and the preseason starts tonight.
Speaking of training camps, the Panthers have had one player absolutely surprise the coaching staff, and the fans that chose to attend the camps. Last year he wasn’t favored by the lame duck coach, John Fox. Fox thought him to be a waste of time, and would ultimately bust out of the league. But this guy worked his tail off during the lockout, and during training camps, to prove that he deserves to be on the field. I’m going to keep the anticipation rolling, so check back after the break to unmask this mystery player.
To keep this going, he was an outstanding player in college, and actually helped an FCS school beat a major FBS school. He was the definition of an outstanding athlete in college, and led many people to believe he could do it in the pros. Ultimately he fell into the laps of the Panthers’ front office, and they didn’t know what to do. He was cast by the wayside even through Carolina had invested quite a bit in the guy. Now, he is stepping up this year and showing that he has the talent to be a starter.
I’m talking, of course, about Armanti Edwards. From all the camp reviews and other blogs I have read, it seems as though Edwards decided to step up and become a powerful force on this offense.
During the lockout, Edwards contacted Punter Jason Baker and began working on punt/kick-off returns, in order to help the team in other areas. From what I have been told he is greatly improved and could be our lead return man once the season starts. In the process of working on the returns, Edwards had Baker help him with his hands. Armanti is new to the WR position and his hands were the biggest issue with letting him play. But, it seems as though it all paid off.
Armanti is listed behind Steve Smith on the depth chart, and might be primarily used in the slot position. He has the speed to be a deep threat, but like I said he is new to the WR position and it will take time for him to adjust to a deep ball. Ultimately, I believe that Edwards has the talent to rise through the ranks and become the No. 2 WR behind Smith. If he can do this it will prove him all the more useful, and John Fox all the more stupid.
One fun fact is that the Panthers have been running drills with Armanti Edwards at quarterback. They have been allotting 30 minutes of practice time in order for Armanti to hold onto his QB skills. As you remember, he was a QB for Appalachian State, when ASU beat Michigan in one of the greatest football games I have ever seen. Armanti led a team of nobodies to beat a Chad Henne (hey, he was good in college) led Michigan Wolverine team that featured the likes of Mario Manningham, Mike Hart, and Jake Long. Obviously the kid has a bit of talent in the pocket. I think this subsequently shows Rivera’s desire to be creative. This is something that Fox and Davidson would have never done, because they were boring when it came to the offense. Rivera is going to use players like Edwards who have immense talent in different schemes.
Imagine this, Edwards in the shotgun with Newton, Smith and Williams out wide, and Greg Olsen in the backfield. Now that is a play I want to see very badly.