Carolina Panthers to do Better 2010

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The finished the 2009 season with an 8-8 record, which was only good enough to get them third place in the NFC South. The Carolina Panthers are hoping to improve on that record, but one of their problems is that they play in the same division as the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. Therefore, it will be difficult to wrestle the division title away from them, but the Panthers have opted to try to do that through a most interesting few draft selections.

Cleaning out the quarterbacks: In 2009, Jake Delhomme, who had been the face of this franchise, completely crashed and burned. It seemed at times that the only passes he could complete were to players that were wearing a different colored jersey than him. Matt Moore, the back-up, became the starter, and led the Panthers to wins in 4 of their last 5 games. So, the Panthers waved goodbye to Delhomme in the off-season. They also sent QB A.J. Feeley on his way. To fill these two holes, the Panthers drafted two quarterbacks in the draft – Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike. Clausen has received mixed reviews. At Notre Dame, he played nearly superhuman at times, but also showed that he could be a real pain in the neck, attitude-wise. Tony Pike is a very interesting pick. He is tall and has good timing and a nice touch with the ball. His main drawback is that he has a weak arm, which would seem to be a problem if you’re playing, say, quarterback. The general consensus is that he will make a nice career back-up QB, but don’t be surprised if he really comes on and pushes the Panthers for a move up the depth chart.

Keeping it down home: In the 3rd and 4th rounds, the Panthers decided to go with some relatively local talent. The third round selection was Armanti Edwards, who played quarterback at Appalachian State. He was drafted to be a wide receiver and kick returner. He can probably line up just about anywhere, in the slot, in the backfield, running the wildcat. He was Mr. Everything at App, including being the Southern Conference Player of the Year, and leading App to a couple of FCS champions. In the 4th round, the Panthers selected a linebacker from South Carolina, Eric Norwood. Word is that Norwood was playing so well in rookie camp that he is expected to content for a starting spot at strong side linebacker.

The strength is in the run: Last year, the Panthers did manage to do one thing for the first time in NFL history – have 2 players gain more than 1,100 rushing yards. Running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart carried the load (literally) for the Panthers. They return, so the Panthers did not look to select any backs in the recent draft.

One big loss that the Panthers suffered is that of Julius Peppers, who was the defensive leader of the team. He will be hard to replace, but perhaps the roster moves that the Panthers have made will counteract that. At any rate, expect the Panthers to remain middle-of-the-pack at 8-8 again.

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