So after the first preseason game, we finally have a chance to see what is going on with this new look Panther team and I liked a lot of what I saw. So for the first time this season we are going to check the stocks and see which players stocks are rising and which fell a bit after the victory against the Giants Sunday night.
Edwards showed why he has been the talk of camp Saturday night when he ripped off two great punt returns. The first was a 22-yard return in which started going right and the cut it all the way back across to the left side of the field outrunning almost every Giants defender. It was an unreal return. He followed that one up with a 24-yard return right up the sideline. Its unbelievable how much more comfortable Edwards looks catching punts. He said that he caught punts almost every single day this offseason and it is very obvious, the former App State quarterback could be a real threat for the Panthers on special teams if he can keep this up. Edwards also showed a bit at the receiver position. He caught a nice pass from Newton for a 36-yard gain where he managed to get himself wide open. It wasn’t to tough of a catch but his route running seems to have really improved.
With starting cornerbacks Chris Gamble and Captain Munnerlynn out with an injury, second year cornerback R.J. Stanford got the start against the Giants and made the most of it. Stanford finished with four tackles and a batted pass, but what impressed me was how he matched up against Giant’s star receiver Hakeem Nix. Nix is a freaky huge and fast and Stanford held his own against him allowing Nix to only catch one pass for 14 yards. Cornerback is a position of weakness for the Panthers but if Stanford and others, including Robert McClain and rookie Kendrick Burney, can step up and play as well as they did against the Giants then the Panthers may not need to go look for another veteran corner.
The rookie out of Stanford played huge Saturday starting at defensive tackle. With Ron Edwards out with injury, Fua could play an important role this season and plug a hole that has been plaguing the Panthers since Kris Jenkins left. And Fua even showed some Jenkins-esque qualities as he timed the snap perfectly on one play, jumping into the backfield before Giants quarterback Eli Manning even had a chance to drop step. He has a head start over fellow rookie defensive tackle Terrell McClain who arrived late to camp after holding out for a bit and looks like it is his job to lose.
Goodson showed last season that he is more than just a backup running back as he rushed for back-to-back 100 yard games, while finishing the season averaging 4.4 yards per carry. But ever since Goodson has arrived in Carolina he has had trouble holding onto the ball and once again he coughed it up twice against the Giants, though one was recovered by the Panthers. To Goodson’s defense, he did get rocked on the ball that he turned over and it looked like a Giant defender got his helmet right on the ball, but the third year running back has to learn how to hold onto the football if he wants to be more than just a backup.