Ladies and Gentlemen, the Panthers!
With the end of the Carolina Panthers mini camp and summer school sessions, comes the deadest time of the year. There will be no news to report about who is looking great or who is recommitting themselves to the game.
Instead, we must find a way to celebrate the team we love. That’s what this is all about.
Call it being creative. Call it pandering for readers. Call it desperation. I call it mixing my favorite band of all-time with my favorite team of all-time. Through the songs of the Beatles we will attempt to tell the story of the 2008 Carolina Panthers.
“I Feel Fine” – Jake Delhomme has told us countless times in interviews that his surgically-repaired elbow feels great. Steve Smith, John Fox, among others have all told us that Jake’s arm looks good, that he looks strong and that his passes have had plenty of zip on them. He’s feeling fine. Let’s hope he continues to feel fine for at least the next eight months.
“Nowhere Man” – Kris Jenkins is no longer in Charlotte. Instead, “he’s a real nowhere man sitting in his nowhere land” also known as the New York Jets. Jenkins’ presence might be missed here but I can’t see his escape from the Dirty South to the Big Apple netting him any more wins than he would have enjoyed in Carolina. I’m betting he would have won more games here than he’ll win with the J-E-T-S.
“Can’t Buy Me Love” – Second-year wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett has been eager to speak of the hard work he’s done during the team’s mini camps and classroom sessions. If he doesn’t show it on the field come training camp he won’t be able to buy love from the fans or the coaches.
“Come Together” – The defensive line will include a bunch of new faces this season that must “come together.” If J-Pepp doesn’t get some support from the likes of Charles Johnson, Tyler Brayton, Ian Scott, Maake Kemoeatu, Damione Lewis, and Stanley McClover, it will be a long season.
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – While the other guys around him have to help him out, Julius Peppers has to find his way out of the slump he was in during the ’07 season. A total of 2.5 sacks simply won’t cut it this year. He’s in a contract year. If he wants the big bucks, he’s going to have to go out there, do something and earn it. If he doesn’t, it could be a lonely time for him. (Bad pun, I know!)
“Help!” – The special teams have suffered. The Panthers ranked 31st in 2007 on kickoff returns with an average of 19.1 and 20th in punt returns with an average of 8.4 per return. Word out of the team’s camp is that Jonathan Stewart may be assuming the kickoff return duties. Will this mean that Ryne Robinson comes back to return punts or will Ricardo Colclough take over some of this work? Something has to give here. For a team that wants to run the football, field position will be critical.
“Yesterday” – The Panthers could be repeating yesterday with the return of Muhsin Muhammad. The big guy is back to not only help take the heat off of Steve Smith but he can also hold onto that team record for receptions (578 catches to Smitty’s 431) for a little while longer.
“Do You Want to Know a Secret” – Listening to the talking heads and the pundits, a fan gets the feeling that there will only be about five teams playing in the NFL this season. It’s not such a bad thing since not that many casual fans will know much about the Panthers. That’s when we can unleash an offense that secretly has a chance to be really explosive this season.
“Revolution” – The Buccanneers have had their day in the sun. Now, it’s time for a revolution. Depose the one-year wonders. The Panthers can send Chucky back to last place where he belongs! Let the reign of the Panthers begin!
“Get Back” – While deposing the Buccanneers the Panthers can “get back to where they once belonged” – the playoffs. It’s been a couple of years now. That’s long enough. We all know what has happened each time the team has made the playoffs – they’ve made noise each trip to the postseason. It’s time to do it again!
“Hello Goodbye” – Hello: D.J. Hackett, Tyler Brayton, Landon Johnson, Muhsin Muhammad, Jonathan Stewart, Jeff Otah. Goodbye: Mike Rucker, Dan Morgan, DeShaun Foster, Mike Wahle, David Carr, Keary Colbert, Drew Carter.
“Good Day Sunshine” – It’s been extremely hot in the early days of June. It’ll be even hotter in the Spartanburg sunshine for the start of training camp. The heat, the two-a-days and the hard work should help to condition the team getting them ready for the long stretch that is the NFL season.
“The Long And Winding Road” – As the team huddled for the last time on the practice field during mini camp, a chant of “Tampa!” went up. This team has a goal. The long and winding road to that goal begins July 25.
“In My Life” – I think we can all say that we want to see this team win a Super Bowl in our lives. Who doesn’t want to see their team win it all? Yet, losing one of the most exciting finales in history by only three points tends to make a fan want to see their team win it even more.
“Love Me Do” – I’ve been to Bank of America Stadium and too often it’s just not loud enough. Let’s get all the “Average Joe” fans together, go to the games and make some noise. To hell with the bankers who think that all that yelling is disturbing them. Love your team and show it!