Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers Running Back Preview

The Carolina Panthers identity has been predicated on a dominant defense and a bruising running game in 2015 that will be no different; especially with the uncertainty in the passing game since Benjamin went down. We have always been a better team when the running game is successful opening up big plays for Cam Newton and it tells us the offensive line is doing its job. With the loss of Benjamin I believe the running game has to step up taking pressure off our young wide receivers and Cam Newton especially!

We have a great mix of veterans and young guys who have different running styles to give defenses different looks on every play. The lead dog will be Jonathan Stewart complemented by Cameron Artis Payne, Fozzy Whittaker, Jordan Todman and undrafted rookie Brandon Wegher who is a long shot, yes but has open some eyes and going to make it a tough decision the coaches. We have great depth at the running back position and all of these guys have something to offer and help our team win football games.

jonathan-stewart-rb-carolina-panthers_pg_600Jonathan Stewart

Stewart is entering his eighth season with the Panthers; first as the feature back as Deangelo Williams is now with the Steelers. Stewart is a bruiser when running the ball, he just keeps those legs going fighting for every inch. He also is a great pass catcher on screen passes or if the play breaks down. He has great ability to take those short passes and turn them into big gainers. A great compliment to Newton, who is also a dual threat this combination could be very effective this season. Last season was a decent year he rushed for 809 yards and three touchdowns he also caught a touchdown as well.

This season I see a breakout year for him because his workload will increase being the featured back and in his career he has averaged 4.6 yards per carry allowing for the offense to be ahead of the chains a ton when he’s been in the game. He is a great player and will thrive with this lead role helping the offense get off to good starts and like I said take the pressure off of Newton. Stewart has an amazing opportunity to become a nightmare for defenses every game on every down. it’s going to be fun to watch.

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Cameron-Artis Payne

The Panthers needed to add a running back to create more depth at the position and “replace” Deangelo Williams and get younger. Although it can be hard to replace the franchise leading rusher, it was time to get younger and move towards the future. He was drafted in the fifth round out of Auburn he had a solid two-year career where he rushed for 2,218 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has shown great potential in limited action in the preseason showing he has the burst and the ability to be a solid NFL player.

I really like that he has the same bruiser mentality as Jonathan Stewart he will do anything to gain the extra yard. I also like the fact that he is coming from the best conference in college football the SEC shows that he can perform against the toughest of opponents. I am really excited to see how he develops because what I’ve seen of him so far I feel he can become really good by learning on the job and from the veterans that we have on our team.

Jordan Todman

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The team brought Todman in to improve the special teams and add more depth. He has impressed and is going to be one of the main kick returner’s where he has excelled in the past, averaging 25.9 yards per kick return paired with Ted Ginn could be a deadly combination. He is very versatile as well and could be used in many different ways in the offense giving guys a blow on third down or even becoming the next Deangelo Williams catching screen passes turning them into big plays.

He is a great addition to this team because he is not just a one trick pony that’s the best thing in any sport because you’re able to fill multiple needs with one person. I love this pickup and he is making us look smart with solid preseason performances thus far I’m very excited to see how he gels with this offense.

Fozzy Whittaker

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Whittaker breaks the mold of our bruiser running backs he uses his speed and agility as his weapon. He is just 5’10 205 a pound, allowing him to squeeze through the small holes the offensive line is able to create. He also has a quality many of our running backs have taken short passes and turning them into big splash plays. Last season he had the biggest play in the playoffs taking a screen pass all the way for a touchdown, giving us all the momentum we needed to finish off the playoff victory. He has great experience in our offense, so I think it’s going to be hard to leave him off the roster because of that it’s going to be tough for the coaches to make the cuts at the running back position I’m glad I don’t have to do that.

Brandon Wegher

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The best story for the Carolina Panthers this preseason is undrafted running back Brandon Wegher. A preseason where the offense has been pretty stagnant Wegher has impressed, scoring three touchdowns and showing he has the ability to be a solid NFL player. It’s been a long hard journey for him starting at the University of Iowa in 2009 and finishing up at Morning-side college where he holds records for rushing yards with 3,815 total touchdowns with 52 and rushing touchdowns with 48!

As you can see, his good play is not a fluke, he knows how to play the game of football and a big reason why is opening coaches’ eyes is going to be difficult to leave off of this roster; if we put him on our practice squad I don’t think he won’t last long with his impressive preseason. it would be awesome to see his hard work pay off and somehow make this roster sports are better when the underdog comes out of nowhere and lives out their dream. He is still a long shot because of all the depth and talent we have at this position,but it would be a great story for him!

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Conclusion

 The running back position is very strong and is going to be difficult to cut down, but whatever decisions are made  we are solid and will be a great complement to Cam Newton and the offense. With the loss of Benjamin I think the running game is even more important to take pressure off the young receiving corps we are now dealing with!  I have all the faith in the world in these guys and it’s going to be fun to watch!!  Go Panthers!!

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Carolina Panthers

Keep your heads up Panther Nation

The Carolina Panthers suffered a devastating blow as standout wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL in his knee in Wednesday’s joint practice with the Dolphins. When I heard this news a pretty good mood turned sour quickly; accepting the reality we will be without our best wide receiver all year a hard pill to swallow. Benjamin to the NFL by storm last season, setting Panther rookie records for receptions, yards and touchdowns. That production won’t be replaced by anyone doesn’t matter who we put out there! Sports stop for no one and we must turn this unfortunate situation into a positive. 

Benjamin has youth on his side and is one of the hardest working players out there!! I expect him to come back better than ever like we’ve  seen before 😏! He will be able to grow as a leader for this team and be the best teammate anyone could ask for! Get well soon KB.

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This team has been through so much adversity over the past few seasons, whether that was Cam Newton’s car accident or coach Rivera’s house fire we were able to rally together as a team and win football games. I don’t see why this would be any different yes, we lost one of our best players, but we still have quality wide receivers that will work to fill the void.

Corey Brown is now slated as our number one wide receiver he is another young guy with tons of speed. Ted Ginn is a veteran guy that also has tons of speed. Along with the speedsters we have Rookie Devin Funchess who is 6’5 and already shown the ability to make great catches. He is just a rookie, but I feel with the guys he has around them he will be a big target for Newton as the season progresses. We also have tight end old reliable Greg Olsen who catches everything and Jerricho Cotchery two veterans that will keep the guys heads up and be another reliable targets for Newton. Brenton Bersin is a local product from Wofford College he will have a larger role in the offense due to the injury. He is 6’3 and has made some good catches for us over the past couple of seasons, but what I worry about is he seems to have the case of the drops at times. Despite that he is another option for us at the wide receiver position.

This position doesn’t have the same firepower as it did with Benjamin in the lineup, but we still have weapons and they are professionals and understand they must step up. Don’t forget we have one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the league and a great stable of running backs that will help this offense be the best it can be. I still think we will have a good offense that will give opposing defenses fits because of the multiple looks we can throw at them.

Defense wins Champions

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Another reason we need to relax is because we have one of the best defenses in the league! We have the best middle linebacker combination in Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly wreaking havoc in the opponents back fields. Bill Polian said Luke Kuechly is “the Peyton Manning of defenses” that praise is definitely warranted in his four years in the NFL he already has 453 tackles and seven interceptions absolutely ridiculous! Thomas Davis has himself overcome three ACL surgeries and come back better than ever. Those two guys are enough for me to still be confident in what this team can accomplish despite the recent blow on the offensive side of the ball. Along with Davis and Kuechly we have great complementary players including Charles Johnson, Josh Norman, Bene Benwikere and many more. 

We can’t forget there is another side of the ball and it’s a team effort; last time I checked the only thing that matters is scoring more than your opponent. Our defense can line up with anybody and I am excited to see what we can do.

Take a deep Breath

Let’s not press the panic button yet I know it’s a crushing blow, but  injuries are part of the game we can do anything about them! We still have a good team that will rally together to win football games. Every season every team goes through some type of adversity before getting to the promise land this is no different!! As a few fans have echoed I hear Sam Mills right now saying KEEP POUNDING!!!! I have every confidence in this team can’t wait for the season to  start. Go Panthers!!

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Golf

Day Finally breaks through for 1st Major Win

Golf’s final major was much anticipated with tons of storylines the biggest involved the top two players in the world. Would Rory McIlroy ankle hold up and would Jordan Spieth win his third major of the year? Rory’s ankle was held up well as he finished -9 in 17th place. As for Jordan he had another magical week finishing in second place at -17 overtaking McIlroy as the number one golfer in the world and he broke Tiger Woods record total in major championships at 54 under par that is ridiculous. To say the least the game of golf is in great hands with those two, but this week belonged to Jason Day.

Jason Day has his Moment

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Jason Day is one of the best golfers in the world, but there was something missing and that was a major title. It hadn’t been for lack of trying as in, 22 career major starts, he had seven top five finishes and ten top ten finishes with so many close calls; people began to wonder if the golf gods were ever going to be in his favor. This week he left no question whom the best golfer was setting the record for the best score in major championship history at 20 under par!

He put on a driving clinic striping down every fairway giving him great chances for birdie. He has stupid power on one of the par fives he drove it 383 leaving himself just a pitching wedge to the hole, it was jaw-dropping. It was very impressive the way he putted as well, on Saturday he recorded six straight threes propelling him to this record victory. He was able to do this with Spieth nipping at his heels the entire way; he just seemed in total control today and it was fun to watch!

This guy is one of the most popular golfers in the world and his play speaks for itself, but his attitude and personality is second to none and that’s why he is one of my favorites on and off the golf course. This will be the first of many the sky’s the limit for him now going to be fun to see where he takes this. Congrats, Mate well deserved!!!!

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Carolina Panthers

The Queen City is Roaring

Sports fan bases are the most critical part of every professional organization! Athletes have gifted physical abilities and make tons of money because of that, but for many of them the greatest joy is playing for the fans and trying to win them championships. The reality is sports are nothing without fans otherwise there wouldn’t be trash talk or really anything for the players to feed off of during competition. The NFL has some of the most passionate fans in the whole world. The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers coming to mind right away as having two of the biggest followings in sports history; they’ve been around for decades allowing that passion to be passed down from generation to generation. The way fans come together and root for their teams is the best part of sports and that’s a big reason why it’s  my passion.

The Growth of Panther Nation

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The NFL like all other sports went through an expansion draft in 1995 allowing the Carolina Panthers to become an NFL franchise. Thus allowing the growth of one of the more underrated fan bases to be born. Although, I wasn’t born early enough to see this franchise from the beginning I’ve been around long enough to learn the Queen city loves their Panthers no matter what! This franchise has been through it all the magical Super Bowl run with the cardiac cats 2003; also a few forgettable years most recently a 2-14 showing in 2010. It wasn’t all lost because we were able to draft our franchise quarterback Cam Newton and bring optimism to the Queen City once again! Through all that this fan base has stayed loyal and are beginning to see consistent winning football it just goes to show you patience pays off for everyone involved in sports.

The Panthers were the first team in our division to win back-to-back division titles! We as fans have responded in a big way last season we ranked 8th in attendance averaging 73,607 per home date and a total of 588,861! This not only shows passion and loyalty, but we are starting to see the passion being passed down from generation to generation that many franchises have enjoyed for much longer than the Panthers. The winning by this team in recent years has helped them grow this fan base to where it is today!

Another key factor helping this fan base grow is the development of downtown Charlotte! The area includes  the best minor-league ballpark since opening last season; paired with Bank of America Stadium, downtown has become a great atmosphere for fans of all ages to enjoy the sports the Queen city has to offer! Another great thing about sports the fans that have been a part of Panther Nation from the beginning are now carrying on the tradition their parents started when they were younger! Now becoming PSL owners themselves cheering on the Panthers season after season passing on the joy to their kids. I’m an example of that as my first Panther game was when I was six years old and I am now 19 a season ticket holder with my dad and I believe when I’m old enough, I will become a PSL owner carrying on the tradition as I am a diehard Panther fan for life.

This off-season there has been a buzz about the Panthers that I haven’t seen in a while! The fans have come out in droves to support this team evidenced by the record-breaking numbers at training camp and Fan Fest this year. There are still three practices remaining and we have surpassed the 60,000 fan mark shattering the numbers from 2014 where we just had a little over 49,000 fans come out to support this team. Maybe even more impressive was Fan Fest where 55,060 fans came out to see the Panthers practice at Bank of America Stadium; I was there and I felt like it was a playoff atmosphere. Here is a jaw dropping stat that just hammers home the love this fan base has for this team. Our fan Fest attendance was better than the Vikings and Raiders average attendance last year when I read that I had to do a double take. It’s amazing how far this franchise has come in just 21 years of existence.

It doesn’t hurt that the front office has been proactive in keeping the core team together and adding low-cost high reward veterans to address the weaknesses from previous years! Everyone in the Panthers organization and especially the fans are feeling the momentum of back-to-back division titles and a playoff win. Feeling we have all the pieces to make a strong run at the Lombardi trophy.  This fan base is one of the best in the league and I have no doubt will lead this Panther team to a third straight division title and a long playoff run. I am so happy to be part of Panther nation ever since I could remember watching this team mature into a consistent winner. GO PANTHERS KEEP POUNDING!!!!!!!!!

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Carolina Panthers, NFL

Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver preview

The Carolina Panthers are coming into the 2015 season with great momentum with back-to-back division championships under their belt. This off-season has been very successful in keeping the core together in signing quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Thomas Davis to contract extensions. The best part of the off-season for me was the front office being proactive in addressing our weaknesses and providing Cam Newton with more weapons to play with.

The wide receiver position is the deepest it has been in a while with 2nd year wide out Kelvin Benjamin, rookie Devin Funchess, Corey Brown, Ted Ginn Jr, and Jerricho Cotchery. These are the guys that will definitely be on the team in 2015, but there are a few other guys that are making a big push to make this roster Jarrett Boykin, and a couple of unknowns that are making a big impression in camp Mike Brown and undrafted free agent Damiere Byrd.

This depth makes me smile and dream about what Cam can do with this amount of weapons. I’m glad I don’t have to make these roster decisions. Coach Ron Rivera has come out and said we might end up keeping seven wide receivers instead of the traditional five because of the talent may have on the roster right now. Let’s take a look at the group I call the Queen City skyscrapers and how they will impact the Carolina Panthers in 2015!

Kelvin Benjamin (6’5 245)bills-panthers-football-kelvin-benjamin-corey-graham_pg_600

Kelvin Benjamin had an awesome rookie season in 2014, playing in all 16 games with 1,008 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He became a match of nightmare for defenses all over the field, but especially in the red zone with his size at 6’5 245. He made some jaw-dropping catches as well, showing that we made the right choice in drafting him 28 overall out of Florida State. He looks like he is going to be the leader of the receiving core for many years to come. The one thing he must work on is making the easier catches last year he had some key drops that would’ve kept drives going and even scored touchdowns, but I expect him to work on that and be as good or better than he was in his rookie season.

Devin Funchess (6’4 225)

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The Panthers drafted Funchess  41st overall in this year’s draft he was a standout at Michigan! The Panthers are making it very clear that they want tall targets for Cam Newton to throw to. A good thing because when Newton is off, he tends to throw high and now with the size of our receivers they might be able to snag more of those high throws. Funchess is 6’4 225 paired with Benjamin is going to be a matchup nightmare in the red zone because all Cam Newton has to do is throw a jump ball and our guys will have a great chance to catch it!

At Michigan he spent the majority of his time at the tight end position. In his career, he had 1,715 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns pretty good considering the Michigan football program hasn’t won in recent history. Although, he is a rookie and unproven at the NFL level you can’t teach size I can’t wait to see him and Benjamin create havoc on NFL defenses opening up big plays for our other playmakers on the field.

Corey Brown (5’11 185 Lbs)

99843991e2122e13a5ed3398f72b9787The Panthers found themselves a diamond in the rough when they signed Corey Brown; formally known as Philly Brown as an undrafted free agent before the 2014 season. He adds an element of speed to this offense and a deep threat taking advantage of the defense having to account for his teammates on every play. He also was a great asset on special teams in 2014 as the primary kick returner, but with Ted Ginn JR back in the fold as the returner I think he will be a bigger part of the offense like he was at the tail end of last season.

He started three games in 2014 he had 21 catches for 296 yards and two touchdowns. He also can have an impact in trick plays or as a rusher last season he had eight rushes for 95 yards. He is a dynamic player and can change the game in so many different ways I’m really excited to see how we incorporate him into the offense more in 2015.

Ted Ginn Jr (5’11 185 Lbs) 

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It’s a happy homecoming for Ted Ginn Jr and the Panthers as he was re-signed this off-season. He will come in and solidify a kicking game that was ranked 24th in the NFL last year. He is another speedster that can affect the game in many ways. He is coming back to an offense that he excelled in 2013 where he had 36 receptions for 556 yards and five touchdowns in an offense that wasn’t as dynamic as I feel the 2015 version will be! Ginn is back in the place where he felt most comfortable and played the best; I am very happy he is a panther again and I will feel less nervous when it comes to special teams!

Jerricho Cotchery (6’1 205)

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Cotchery is entering his second year with the Panthers he is the grizzled veteran of the group at age 33; he is entering his 12th year as an NFL wide receiver. His stats from 2014 don’t jump off the page with 48 receptions for 580 yards and one touchdown. However, he is still a formidable wide receiver and is a great mentor for the younger guys to learn from. Also, Cam Newton used him as a safety blanket when things seemed to be closing around him. He is perfect for this team because there are so many young stars and he can show them the right way on and off the field.

Jarrett Boykin (6’2 217 Lbs)

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Boykin is one of the wide receivers fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster. He is a local boy he went to high school at Butler in Charlotte North Carolina! It would definitely be a cool story if he played for his local team while trying to make himself a household name in the NFL. He has made a good impression on the coach is thus far in camp making all the plays. He also has pretty good speed and could be used on special teams to help solidify a weak point in 2014.

He will have to play well in the preseason games to stand out from the other guys, but has made a good impression so far and that’s all he can do. The funny thing is he was signed in the off-season for depth reasons and this position now might be the deepest of any part of the roster.

Mike Brown (5’10  200 Lbs)

Mike_Brown_20140914Brown is another guy that is fighting for a spot on this roster. His best year was 2013 when he played with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had 32 receptions for 446 yards and two touchdowns a pretty good year for anyone in a Jacksonville uniform. However, He is probably a long shot to make this team, but he is also making a great impression on the coaches and who knows he might dominate in the preseason and force the coaches to put them on this team.

Damiere Byrd 5’9 173 Lbs

0509PANTHERS_08Byrd is the last of the guys fighting for a spot on this roster he is an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina and I think he has the best chance out of the last three players to make the roster because of his pure speed. He ran a 4.28 40 time and the coaches have been impressed with the plays he’s made and his hands which are important for wide receivers.

Ultimately, you can’t teach speed and I believe he can be used in many different situations like trick plays, special-teams and has a deep threat. Like the other two he will have to prove himself in the preseason games and it will be fun to see who comes out on top in this battle I don’t think the team can lose no matter what choice we make.

Conclusion 

This receiving core has a chance to be deadly with its mix of size and speed. In addition to the talent we have on the outside paired with a dual threat quarterback and a stable of running backs it could be the best offense in the NFL. One thing is for sure it’s going to watch and I’m expecting a lot of touchdowns in 2015!!! Go Panthers!!!

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

AJ Pierzynski is the Braves MVP in 2015

The Atlanta Braves came into 2015 with very little expectations because the organization is in rebuilding mode. The team sits at 51-60, 8 1/2 games back of the division leading Mets. Despite the record, this season has been very successful on and off the diamond with the innovative trades we’ve made to unload terrible contracts and stockpile young pitching getting back to the “Braves way”! John Hart has done a masterful job piecing together this team in 2015 and beyond! In my opinion, he should get the GM of the year, but of course I’m biased; he has also brought in some crafty veterans to teach the youngsters how to play the game right. The veteran presence has not only helped the play on the field, but the clubhouse chemistry has benefited greatly and has made this season more fun to watch because this team never quits.

AJ Pierzynski’s Impact on the Braves

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AJ Pierzynski signed a one-year deal with the Braves this off-season to be the backup catcher and mentor to Christian Bethancourt. The 38-year-old is defying father time having one of the best years of his career; he has gone from a backup to the MVP of the Braves it’s been fun to watch. He is hitting .302 with seven home runs and 36 runs batted in. The offensive side of the ball has been great, but what he has done with this young pitching staff has been amazing. This season the Braves to be used 31 different pitchers in the rotation and bullpen Pierzynski has had to learn on the fly with many of these young pitchers making their debuts some and high-pressure situations. He has had to massage young starters when they don’t have their best stuff and instill his veteran wisdom into all his teammates.

He has been one of the most durable catchers in big-league history, he is 11th all-time in games caught with 1838. An amazing accomplishment considering the amount of punishment catchers take because of foul tips and wearing all of that gear. A 17-year career that in my opinion is underrated; he has a career average of .282, 184 home runs and 873 RBIs, not too shabby!

In his younger days he was voted the most hated players by his peers, he’s a guy that you love to have on your team but hate as an opponent. He has matured and been a consummate professional with the Braves this season and made a lasting impact this year and beyond with all the young guys whether he is here beyond this year or not. It’s been said many times on the broadcast where would this ball club be without AJ Pierzynski and I can’t answer that question I’m just glad he’s on our team. Thank you, John Hart for adding this guy! Go Braves!!!

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Carolina Panthers, NFL

5 keys for the Carolina Panthers Success in 2015

It’s August you know what that means football is back!! The Carolina Panthers are entering camp with great momentum, as they became the first team in our division’s history to win back-to-back titles. They also were able to lock up two key pieces to their success, in linebacker Thomas Davis and quarterback Cam Newton to contract extensions. These moves show this team wants to win now and are loyal to their players.

The teams also made some under the radar moves to improve the club’s weaknesses from last season. They signed Michael Oher, Jarrett Boykin, Ted Ginn, and Charles Tillman just the name a few. These signings will not jump off the page, but address three key areas of weakness that were offensive line, wide receiver depth, and special teams. These moves show the front office is paying attention and are doing whatever they can to make this team even better. The Queen city has a buzz about it that I haven’t seen in a while, I guess that’s what happens when you start winning and investing in the team’s stars, keeping the chemistry of the organization at its best. Here are my five keys for the Panthers to 3-peat as division champs and chase the Lombardi trophy.

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1. Health 

In sports, health is the most important aspect of any teams success!! For the Panthers it’s been a hurdle we dealt with for the last couple of years with Cam Newton’s car wreck and a revolving door at running back because of nagging leg injuries. Training camp has just got underway and the team has taken a few body blows to their depth the biggest being defensive tackle Star Lotulelei suffered a stress reaction in his surgically repaired foot Monday and will be reevaluated in a few weeks. A tough loss, but luckily it happened so early in camp, to give him the chance to get healthy and help this team win. The team also lost offensive lineman Jonathan Martin and cornerback Chris Houston to retirement because of injury.  To say the least the Panthers have dealt with adversity due to injury, I hope this year we will have our full team to give every opponent our best shot.

Injuries are given in sports, but if you can avoid long-term injuries to key players as a team you have a much better chance to win. If the Panthers can stay healthy we are deadly with the team we plan to put on the gridiron in 2015 it’s going to be exciting to watch!!

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2. Protecting Cam Newton 

The team signed Cam Newton to a five-year $104 million contract extension this off-season. The key for him is going to be his offensive line here’s why, since entering the league in 2011 Cam Newton has been hit 587 times 270 times more than any other quarterback in that timeframe. That is partially due to his style of play being a dual threat quarterback making him more susceptible to bone crushing hits. Another factor is the offensive line, which was no doubt the weakest aspect of the team in 2014 at times they couldn’t even protect a paper bag. The team has tried to address that weakness with the signing of tackles Michael Ore and drafting Daryl Williams in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Oher is just trying to rebound from an injury-riddled year with the Tennessee Titans and return to how he played in Baltimore protecting Joe Flacco’s blindside.

Cam Newton is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL making defenders look foolish. If he is picking himself off the ground one play after another he is more likely to get injured, he can’t lead this offense from the sideline. If this team wants to reach the ultimate goal Cam Newton has to be under center the entire season that is up to the offensive line.

3. Getting off to a Fast start 

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The Panthers must take advantage of our first four games of the season. We play the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans New Orleans Saints, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These are teams on paper, we should be able to beat Jacksonville is still trying to find their identity and the only won three games in 2014. Houston has a dominant defense, but don’t know whom their quarterback is going to be.  Today lost thier running back Adrian Foster to a groin injury that will require surgery and he will miss the start of the season. The Saints are getting older and traded Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks to create cap space so they are in a transitional period. The Buccaneers were last in our division last couple years and are starting a rookie quarterback.

The cards are stacked in our favor to begin the year we must go at least 3-1 because after that we enter the toughest stretch of our schedule when we face Seattle, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Green Bay. Making the first four games of the year the most important for our confidence and swagger! The first four games will make or break our season we better come out of the gates on fire or we could crash and burn.

4. The Running Game 

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This off-season the Panthers parted ways with their all-time leading rusher in Deangelo Williams. This puts all the pressure on Jonathan Stewart to become the lead running back and showcase all of his skills as a downhill runner and a pass catcher out of the backfield. In his career, he has amassed 4,825 yards 30 touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards per carry pretty darn good! I think you will take this role by the horns and become one of the leading backs in the NFL if he is able to stay healthy which is always been his problem, but I’m really excited to see when he can produce with an even larger role.

To complement Stewart we have Mike Tolbert, Fozzy Whittaker, draft pick Cameron Artis-Payne, and even Jordan Todman a great stable of backs I can’t wait to watch operate. We are a better team when we rush over 100 yards because it takes the pressure off of Cam Newton opens up more passing lanes for him as well making our offense look like a well oiled machine.

Mike Tolbert is built so big he is like tackling a tree defenders just bounce off of him. Fozzy Whitaker is a little bit more of a speedster a great complement to cam Newton and his running ability. I don’t know much about Cameron Artis-Payne, but he has been one of the camp standouts thus far and can’t wait to see him in action. Jordan Todman was signed to help the special-teams deficiencies, but he can also be used in third-down situations and if someone needs a breather. We might have lost our leading rusher, but I think we are in good hands as long as everyone stays healthy.

5. The  Special Teams

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Along with the offensive line the biggest shortcoming for the Panthers in 2014 was special teams. I can point to one game where I wanted to puke it was against the Minnesota Vikings when we gave up two punt blocks after the second one I turned it off. Not only that our main punt returner Brenton Bersin had trouble catching the ball every time a punter kicked it to him I always-yelled “Catch It” because I was so nervous he didn’t catch it enough for my liking.

We ranked tied for 24th in the kicking game and that had to change, we went out and re-signed Ted Ginn Jr to return kicks and punts to solidify our special teams. If we are able to play the field position game better this year than last our defense will be licking its chops because it’s already good, but if opponents are on their end of the field the defenses confidence will be even better.

1b6131b0b01f8e7e7cf15449441e2292These are five key  areas that will determine the success of the Panthers in 2015. To reach the ultimate goal of the Lombardi trophy and finally the respect this team deserves. I am super pumped for this season I need some new excitement as the Braves have not been what I hoped.  The Panthers have the highest ceiling we’ve had in years and I’m excited to see where we will take it!!  Go Panthers!!!

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