Day one of the Panthers' mini-camp did not have any real surprises. As expected, Richard Marshall was absent.
Marshall, who was a free agent this year and under the old "CBA" would have been in line to receive a nice pay raise, following his fourth season in the NFL, was missed but was there were guys there to step in and take his place.
This was expected as Marshall was given a tender offer which was less than he felt his services were worth. He has yet to sign the offer sheet and therefore he was not obligated to attend the practice. While Marshall opted out, Captain Munnerlyn filled the void.
According to the Panthers' draft picks, it looks as if they planned on Marshall possibly not returning for some time.
Now for the good stuff. The only thing approaching a surprise was the ball hawking play of draft pick, Jordan Pugh. Pugh seemed right at home, breaking up and picking off passes and being where he was supposed to be. As a matter of fact the Chris Harris deal already looks like an improvement for the Panthers.
There were other good looking players and a nice showing was made by trade pickup, Jamar Williams. Williams was able to force a ball loose, get a tip on a ball and also make an interception. Williams actually stole the linebacking show in what seemed like a cagey veteran making plays in his starting position. Maybe James Anderson will not be the starter as projected. But there is a lot of practice left to go.
Finally the big question. How were the quarterbacks? Who was the best? Matt Moore looked every bit the part of the team's key starter. His plays were crisp and he far and away exceeded the efforts of anyone else during live action.
Oddly enough, Hunter Cantwel, arguably, gave the second best effort of the day. This was not far fetched as Cantwell has been in the Panthers' organization and has a good grasp of the playbook and he has a better feel of the speed difference between the college and professional levels.
As somewhat expected, Jimmy Clausen finished third as the, "semi" "live bullets" began to fly. This is how one would expect things to go for a guy stepping in for the first time in his life, on a pro team.
Clausen held his own. He should be able to polish up his game in short order as today was more of a meet-n-greet and a barometer to see where guys were. Many times it takes quarterbacks a while to get used to the pressure and speed of everything going on around them. Clausen looked better than average for a rookie on his day one outing.
Finally, Tony Pike seemed awkward and at times struggled in the speed of live action. Though all quarterbacks seemed to make nice throws during drills and were able to place the ball where it was supposed to be placed, Matt Moore, again, was far and away the best option on a somewhat meaningless day one.
The wide receivers looked fine. Steve Smith is still a man among boys. New draftees, Lafell and Gettis were both bigger and faster than I remembered them being on film. Lafell has the making of a Dwayne Bowe type of receiver and once he gets up to speed with the intricacies of the pro game he should be a contributor. Speedster Dexter Jackson may find himself a spot on this roster but it will be a challenge as the wide receiving corps has gone from slim pickings to a full plate in just the matter of a week. The hard part will be ranking them as camp proceeds.
As far as Armanti Edwards goes he did ask for help a few times, but he did as well as could be expected. The rest of the Panthers' receivers seemed to all know where to be and how to catch as they progressed through their drills.
While the day did not produce any losers it did show a flash of talent for a few guys looking to make the active roster. Matt Moore, the so-called "named" starting quarterback, really looked sharp. Also Hunter Cantwell, Jordan Pugh and Jamar Williams should hold there heads high after their day one exploits.
The running backs cannot be graded as both Williams and Stewart sat out.
Both the offensive and defensive lines seemed to do well even though both starting offensive tackles sat out as they were nursing injuries from last season. Also,defensive tackle Tank Tyler, tight end Dant Rosario and defensive end Tyler Brayton all sat out as well. There were no major mistakes on either side of the line.