For Carolina, Career-Reserves Choose Their Own Destiny In 2010
As we get ready for the 2010 season, no team has more questions than the Carolina Panthers.
It seems as though only a handful of positions have locked starters. There will be competition at many positions, such as quarterback, wide receiver, right guard, defensive tackle, both outside linebacker positions, and safety.
We have seen the Panthers go through a youth movement this offseason, and that has been a big reason as to why they have so many questions surrounding their franchise. They have gotten rid of all but three players 30 or older, two of them being their kicker and punter.
Carolina already had a lot of issues before, but now they have lost up-and-coming star linebacker Thomas Davis for the 2010 season, who has only one year left on his contract.
Carolina chose to not replace any of the players they released via free agency, as they did what they always do, and built through the draft. Although they did have a very impressive draft, rookies won't solve the issues they have surrounding this team.
They signed a total of four veterans via free agency, all of which are not locked to make the team. Three of them were brought in to help on special teams, including Wallace Wright, Aaron Francisco and Marcus Hudson. Defensive tackle Ed Johnson was the other veteran brought in, who has the best chance at making the team.
Since Carolina chose to not bring in big-named veterans to replace the ones they lost, players that have spent their career as reserves must step up and take their place.
Longtime Panthers, such as quarterback Jake Delhomme, defensive end Julius Peppers and receiver Muhsin Muhammad, were all let go this offseason. Delhomme and Peppers found starting jobs on new teams, while Muhammad chose to retire.
There will be a lot of competition during training camp, as everyone should keep their eyes on quarterbacks Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen, receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Brandon LaFell, and linebackers James Anderson, Dan Connor and Jamar Williams.
The defensive line is another position everyone should keep an eye on.
For the offensive line, it seems to be set outside of the right guard spot. Third-year guard Mackenzy Bernadeau has impressed coaches and is the likely candidate to start.
Keep an eye out for second-year guard Duke Robinson, as he could surprise many this summer.
The most important position to keep and eye on is linebacker. Even before Thomas Davis was lost for the season, there was much competition for the starting strongside linebacker spot.
James Anderson looks to take the job there, but now, the starting weakside linebacker will be taken by either third-year linebacker Dan Connor or recently-acquired Jamar Williams.
I would like to see Connor take the job, as he really impressed me in the preseason last year while starting middle linebacker Jon Beason was recovering from an injury.
The former Penn State star has everything you want in a linebacker. He's a tough, hard-nosed tackler that has natural leader skills.
There are also rumors that middle linebacker Jon Beason will move back outside, giving Connor the starting job in the middle.
At quarterback, Matt Moore has the job now, but don't be surprised if second-round pick Jimmy Clausen takes the job if he impresses during training camp and the preseason. He is, however, expected to be the franchise quarterback.
After Carolina shockingly traded Chris Harris back to Chicago, it looks like second-year safety Sherrod Martin will take his spot. I'm excited about this, as Martin really impressed me after getting three interceptions and two forced fumbles in just five games started in '09.
It should be an exciting summer, and I honestly can't wait to see which players will win each job.
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