Carolina Panthers Training Camp Preview: Quarterbacks


So far we’ve previewed the offensive line and defensive front. Today, we’ll take a look at the offensive “field general” position for the Carolina Panthers.

Four months ago, I wasn’t sure about what to expect at this position. The Panthers had released Jake Delhomme as quickly as possible, they didn’t re-sign either of the veteran backup quarterbacks — A.J. Feeley and Josh McCown — and with the purging of aging players, it certainly didn’t seem right that Carolina was looking for aging veteran experience, a-la Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger, Jeff Garcia, etc.

The time between the start of free agency and the 2010 NFL Draft, crawled at a snail’s pace. During that time, Carolina only had two quarterbacks on the roster: Matt Moore and Hunter Cantwell.

Most of us were fairly comfortable with Moore. The guy showed us what he is capable of in the last five weeks of the 2009 regular season. Perhaps in some ways, he left us wanting more. Unfortunately, he has no control over when the regular season ends. He certainly had no control of when it would be his time to take over the starting job.

Cantwell has been something of a mystery to this point, and maybe longer. The rumors going around, are the Panthers’ front office love Cantwell’s arm. Perhaps there’s more to it, but in a nutshell, that’s all I’ve been consistently hearing. So we’ll save that for training camp and preseason.

Draft day came along, but without a first-round pick, Carolina was left waiting. I wasn’t sure for how long, given the last couple of years’ history, I half expected general manager Marty Hurney to make a deal to move up into the first-round. But when he announced the night before the draft that the Panthers had no plans of moving into the first-round, we finally gained some closure.

On the second day of the draft, I don’t know what my fellow fans were thinking, but instead of Jimmy Clausen, I was watching the free-fall of wide receiver Golden Tate. Clausen wasn’t even on my radar, but apparently he was free-falling right along with Tate.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their pick (WR Arrelious Benn) a few slots before Carolina. Once they selected Benn, I “knew” Carolina was “Golden” for Tate.

Not to re-hash the same story, I was in total disbelief for a few hours when the Cats selected Jimmy Clausen. In hindsight, things are working out pretty well so far with Clausen. He hasn’t drawn any negative attention to himself so far, and he hasn’t broken into any Krispy Kreme locations, unlike Golden Tate.

It seems to me, that the Panthers did quite well for themselves, getting not one, but two quarterbacks in the draft. One who is highly-regarded in some circles — not the media’s — and one who shows  a lot of upside, Cincinnati’s  Tony Pike.

The big “surprise” at this point (to some), is the seemingly mysterious depth chart climb of Hunter Cantwell, during the team’s break between OTA’s and training camp. Well, it makes sense. Cantwell is a veteran of one year over the two rooks. So it stands to reason, the unexplainable (to some) climb up the depth chart.

It’s been more of a media craze that has anointed Jimmy Clausen the backup to Matt Moore right off the bat, and is projected by some to take over the starting quarterback position by Week Five.

I suppose if one guy can climb the depth chart when no one’s looking, then another guy can have someone else’s job for no reason by a certain time of the regular season.

The media is already setting us up for Moore’s failure, which I find rather disgusting, but negative publicity is what the media thrives on. That’s what sells stories.

I don’t see Moore going down that easily. I see John Fox allowing Moore every opportunity to succeed, and because of his age, the fact his confidence hasn’t been shaken, and because he’s a different athlete than Delhomme was, Moore will have success in 2010. Barring injury, I don’t see this guy losing his job as the starting quarterback. I also don’t see him having a meltdown of Jake Delhomme proportions. Two totally different quarterbacks in more ways than one or two.

Once again, we’re at a position where there is really more than one player to watch. In this case, I’d have to say watch them all as closely as you can. With Moore, we want to see how he develops as a leader on the offense. He has to. He’s the field general.

Jimmy Clausen’s battle for the No. Two job against incumbent Hunter Cantwell will also be fascinating to watch. Cantwell has a big arm that the organization loves, which is going against the most NFL-ready quarterback of this year’s draft in Clausen.

Tony Pike is also a particularly interesting character to keep tabs on. He’s already had comparisons made that he’s a Tom Brady type. But with his injury history in college and a weaker arm, he should be trying to make the biggest waves out of the two — maybe three quarterbacks ahead of him. I wonder what Terry Bradshaw thinks of Pike’s throwing motion?

Tomorrow we will preview the defensive ends. TGIF everyone!

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