The 2010 NFL season has arrived with training camps starting this week. For the Carolina Panthers, gone are faces of the franchise leaders Jake Delhomme and Julius Peppers.
One place that is pretty solid however is the backfield in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Sweet. You can argue that these guys are two of the best in the NFL being ranked in the top 10. Williams finished the season injured with 1,117 yards, while Stewart led the Panthers with 1,133 yards. First time in league history that both RBs on a team surpassed the 1,100 yard rushing mark in one season. Quite impressive.
Williams and Sweet are good, but give some credit to the OL. Up front Carolina has two Pro Bowlers in C Ryan Kalil and LT Jordan Gross. Gross had a broken leg last season and has progressed nicely over the Summer which left Kalil as the lone Panther in the Pro Bowl. RT Jeff Otah and LG Travelle Wharton are your next go to Panthers on the OL. Otah is a big man with a good football IQ, but he is still learning the game at the pro level. If he can stay healthy, that is another plus sign for the Panthers running game. Wharton is the skilled, athletic one who’s a great blocker. All tolled, pretty good solid four.
Let’s talk defense, SS Chris Harris is now in Chicago, starter and a leader lost. As for the linebackers, for the second straight season, Thomas Davis blew his ACL in June. Davis was a rising starter, this now places the coaching staff into a shuffle. Jon Beason will now move to the weakside from the middle. This allows Dan Conner the chance at MLB and places James Anderson on the strong side to cover the TEs. Oh yeah, the defensive line is minus Mr. Peppers. This gives opportunity to Tyler Braden and Everett Brown to step up and produce. Also, Lewis Leonard, Tank Tyler and Corby Earvin are three quality DTs come back strong and healthy after injuries last season.
A heated battle should be at the QB position between Mike Moore with eight career starts and rookie Jimmy Clausen out of Notre Dame. Last season the Panthers ranked 27th in Passing. Add these factors with the unfortunate arm break of four-time Pro Bowler Steve Smith in the Summer and the passing game is in a hole before the season begins. The big element of this equation is to get Clausen under contract and into camp. Moore’s contract ends this season, which gives Clausen a small advantage to take over a rebuilding Panther team.
Football season is here Panther fans. Lots of question marks and a lot of pieces that need to blend together for the Panthers and head coach John Fox going into the last season of his contract. Young roster means longevity and possibilities in the future. This season, 4-12 is a little drastic, 8-8 more possible with their schedule.
About the Author
Written by Chris Jones
Resident of Charlotte, NC and avid sports fan from little league to professional to extreme. Bachelors degree in broadcasting with a minor in physical education. Associated with sports most of professional career by freelancing in college then moving on to work for ESPN and ABC Sports for 17 years. When not attending, watching or playing sports, spare time spent as a basketball referee in North Carolina.