Last year there was a lot of uncertainty at the wide receiver position outside of Steve Smith. Legedu Naanee seemed to have been given the starting job solely due to the fact that he played for Ron Rivera when he was the Chargers. Then David Gettis suffered a season ending injury and Brandon LaFell was never really given a chance to shine (until the last couple games). However, this year looks like it might be different. Gettis has healed well after surgery on his leg and looks to be 100% by the time training camp rolls around. Brandon LaFell had some very bright moments at the end of last season when he was given a couple starts and he should have an even bigger impact this year now that Naanee is out of the way.
This upcoming season is going to play a big role in Gettis and LaFell’s future with the Panthers. This will be both players’ third season with the Panthers and they need to show Ron Rivera that they can be productive and take some of the pressure off of Cam Newton, and eventually take over for Steve Smith. If they do not perform well this year, then some changes could be warranted. Most likely they would consider drafting a receiver in next year’s draft, or signing the best available receiver in free agency next year.
However, both Gettis and LaFell have all the tools needed to be successful in this league. Gettis is 6-3 and almost 220 lbs, and has the straight –line speed to get past defenses and the vertical to go up and grab the ball at its highest point. LaFell is 6-2, 211 lbs, and this past season developed into a solid possession receiver. LaFell doesn’t have the speed that’s going to burn defenses, but last year he caught just about everything that touched his hands and also is a decent run blocker. With the addition of Stewart, Williams, and newly added fullback/running back Mike Tolbert in the backfield, the Panthers are looking to be one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Add all that together and you got what looks to be one of the most prolific offenses in franchise history. The 2012 season is definitely setting up to be one of the most exciting ones in the last decade and should be a lot of fun to watch.