There have been a lot of feel-good stories in Carolina this off-season. I admit it, they make me feel very good, at least as far as Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Return Specialists go…Especially concerning Return Specialists…
Return Specialist and Wide Receivers Ryne Robinson and last year’s pre-season darling in Carolina, Jason Carter are both returning from season-ending injuries.
Rookies, RB/WR Mike Goodson, CB Captain Munnerlyn, WR Larry Beavers, and RB Jamall Lee all appear to be competing for a chance to return kickoffs and punts as well.
And if you watch the highlight reels on every one of these guys, all appear quite impressive. 3 RBs would be the most Carolina would schedule to play on Sundays, not including Special Teams. 3 is the typical number of Wide Receivers Carolina has on the roster to play on game days. Also, Carolina’s third WR on the roster is usually a Return Specialist.
I guess it’s a “glass is half-empty, half-full” kind of thing. The argument could be made that two; maybe three of these rookies never make it to an NFL football field. Conversely, it could be argued that all six of these players could make the roster as Special Teams players as well as players in their respective positions.
But I’m not going to get overly excited about these feel-good stories—not yet. Not with the revolving door that is competition in Pro Football. Add Dwayne Jarrett into the mix and that makes four players competing for a position as a third WR behind Smith and Muhammad.
I don’t believe Carolina is looking for one of these guys to become a reliable, respectable numbers kind of guy to return punts and kickoffs. They released Mark Jones. They want a game-changer. They need a game-changer. It’s been a long time since Steve Smith was the return guy. If Carolina has their game changer in one of the rookies, it’d be a safe bet to assume that their upcoming star would be a Return Specialist.