Welcome to Friday Fan Mail! I’m your host, Bobby Agnese. I’ve compiled inquiries from the best Panthers fans on the web, and have answered the questions you’ve been dying to know. It’s the Q&A you can look forward to every Friday. Lets get started:
Christopher Lofton asks: “Who will be our #2 corner if Antoine Cason is #1?”
First of all, I would like to start off by saying that Cason was very solid throughout OTAs and mini-camp. He was an absolute steal in free agency, and he’s proved it thus far on the field.He’s had a couple of picks, and is defending well, showing his true ballhawk nature. No question that he’s a leading candidate for the #1 slot.
Back to the question at hand. Melvin White is making a strong case as a #2 CB, and I’m 89.5 percent sure the job is his. He’s playing well and coaches loved what they saw from him as a rookie. Josh Norman, would be a tough competitor for the spot, but the coaches are now careful not to get excited about his off season flashes. He needs to play at a high level when it counts.
Tarun Satish asks: “Who will be starting at OT?”
I can tell you with 100% certainty that Byron Bell and Nate Chandler will be the starting offensive tackles. What I can’t tell you, however, is who will be playing which end of the line. The left tackle position is completely in the air between the two, and it’ll be the most exciting battle to watch in training camp. Interestingly enough, Nate Chandler took more reps than Bell at LT during the last two days of mini-camp. Take that information with a grain of salt.
Justin Caudle asks: “What will it take for Cam to claim the MVP award?”
Excellent question, Justin. In my opinion, Cam has a lot of work to do to make a push for the MVP award. Last year he was in the discussion, but everyone knew Peyton Manning had the award on lock-down. This year may not be too different. Let’s took at the recent award winners over the past five seasons:
As the history of the MVP award shows us, QB is the most popular position selected. In order for Cam to be crowned in 2014, he’ll have to perform at an elite, freakish level for his position. Can he beat out Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees? I doubt it, but I wouldn’t put it past him. Cam has made major strides in his career, and it won’t be too long until he’s a top five quarterback. I just don’t see it happening this upcoming season. The Panthers run the ball too often for Cam to put up the stats he would need to qualify.
Neil Kinard asks “Which Josh (if any) is going to make the cut?”
I’m assuming you’re talking about Josh Thomas and Josh Norman. The troubling cornerbacks that make me pull my hair out.
There’s no question both of them will make the team. Thomas, while disappointing at times, is too solid of a guy to cut, especially considering the weak depth at the cornerback position. He may not start, but he’ll be on the 53.
Norman will most likely make the cut as well. He shows a ton of potential, but unfortunately lacks discipline. A lot of us still haven’t forgiven him over the Buffalo mishap. History continues to repeat itself, as he’s looking good this offseason. Rivera hopes he’ll have the same success in the regular season, but he isn’t rushing to conclusions. He’s going to have to battle, hard, for a chance to start.
Kelvin Thorb asks “Who will do punt/kick return duties this year?”
That position, my friend, is just as wide-open as any other battle. We’ve seen Pilares, Barner, and Cason all back there receiving kicks during mini-camp. Rivera likes what Cason can deliver as a punt returner, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fill that role in the regular season. As kick returns go, Pilares has the most experience and is very dependable. He’ll most likely be receiving the opening kick from Buccaneer Connor Barth week one.
That’s a wrap! I want to thank all of you very much for submitting all of your questions for the first edition of Friday Fan Mail! Make sure you tune in next week, and if you have any questions you’d like me to answer next Friday, be sure to contact me through Facebook, or Twitter @bobbyagnese.