Panthers absence from tight end university an opportunity missed

(Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) Dan Arnold
(Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) Dan Arnold /

It was surprising to see no members of the Carolina Panthers attend the recent Tight End University ahead of training camp.

On the face of things, the Carolina Panthers need all the help they can get at the tight end position. This is an area of the field that became a constant source of frustration in the passing game last season and whether things can better in 2021 with the additions of Dan Arnold and Tommy Tremble remains to be seen.

Hopes are high for improvement.

Arnold showed real progress with the Arizona Cardinals during the previous campaign to record some career numbers. His ability to get open quickly in the red zone is something that could make him a valuable piece of the puzzle.

Tremble is a third-round pick out of Notre Dame that is seen as a work in progress. His eye-catching talent from a blocking standpoint will be utilized in Year 1 while his pass-catching gets up to speed gradually.

The task awaiting Ian Thomas this offseason is obviously steep. He was a real disappointment in the immediate aftermath of Greg Olsen’s departure and the chances of the Panthers leaning on him significantly at any stage next season is remote.

Considering how many questions surround this group, it was a huge surprise to not see any attend a prominent event catered to NFL tight ends to learn off each other and build relationships between a close-knit group of men.

Olsen – together with George Kittle and Travis Kelce – got together to come up with Tight End University, which brought together the league’s best players at the position for a special camp and bonding period ahead of the new season.

According to the list of attendees, Arnold, Tremble, and Thomas were not there.

Which does seem like an opportunity missed.

Carolina Panthers need more from their tight ends in 2021.

They were entitled not to show their face. Getting rest ahead of what promises to be a grueling camp back at Wofford College in Spartanburg is obviously important.

However, the information they could have acquired working with some of the best in the business over a few days on the field, socializing, and working out would have done far more good than harm.

If it was good enough for All-Pros, Pro Bowlers, and even a potentially generational talent like Kyle Pitts of the Atlanta Falcons, it should have been attended by at least one of Carolina’s options.

As the old saying goes, every little helps.

Not every prominent tight end figure showed up, which is fine. Everyone is entitled to their own approach and there are some COVID-19 health concerns still associated with travel that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The heat will be on Carolina’s tight ends to raise their game considerably in 2021.

Each of them has their own set of pressure for differing reasons and the Panthers are going to need someone to become more involved after Curtis Samuel left for the Washington Football Team in free agency.

Only time will tell as to whether Arnold, Tremble or Thomas will be good enough. There is far more upside surrounding the group than this time last year, but one cannot predict with any certainty how involved they’ll be until we see them on the gridiron.

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Tight End University looked like a fabulous experience for all involved. It’s just a shame those on the Panthers chose not to attend.