Thoughts and Reflections from Carolina Panthers Fan Fest
So the word you're hearing from every major sports media organization is that Cam Newton wowed at the Carolina Panthers' Fan Fest 2011 at Bank of America stadium.
That's not the whole story, actually.
There was much more going on than just Cam Newton.
And actually, he made some bad throws.
Although it is easy when your competition is Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen (sorry, I had to say it...).
So besides Newton, what else should Panthers fans know from Fan Fest?
Cam Newton Definitely Has an Arm
I think we all knew he was a physical specimen. No doubt. But you really have to see him in person.
I watched Anderson and Clausen warm up a bit, throwing passes to the ball boy.
And then Newton stepped up and launched one...without trying.
I was taken aback, I must admit (if you read my live blog, you'll know I commented on it).
So while Newton is still learning the offense, I think the Panthers have loaded up on athletic guys at receiver on purpose.
Interesting play there, Coach Rivera. I see what you're doing.
Still No Sure Thing for the Second Receiver
In an interview after the game, Steve Smith was asked about who he thinks will be next to him.
I was there watching him. You know, I think he gets tired of the question. Plus, he doesn't want to play favoritism with his teammates. It's not his call anyway.
But, to the point. The Panthers had to like what they saw from import Legedu Naanee. This guy did well in limited action with the San Diego Chargers.
Fans have to be excited about Armanti Edwards, the local product.
And of course, the Panthers bring back Brandon LaFell and David Gettis (neither of which were there Saturday).
But, guess who was lining up next to Smith when the Panthers practiced in two-receiver sets?
Jimmy Clausen Looked Terrible
Maybe it's just me, but when a rookie who has had about a week to learn the offense comes in and looks better than you, however talented Mr. Newton is, something is wrong.
Granted, though, it's a new offense for everyone.
Still, Clausen didn't really have a "great" throw like a couple of the players claimed, in my opinion.
Again, that is just my opinion.
What's worse is that Clausen spent most of the afternoon running with the first team.
Panthers fans, let's hope that Newton starts the season.
Newton Did Look Good, Though
Reading back through my notes, I did realize I forgot about the long crossing route that Newton had in a two-minute drill to Gary Barnidge.
But for those that are reading on ESPN.com and NFL.com, it was not a touchdown. Barnidge would have been tackled in a real game.
Now, the throw Newton made later to David Clowney of 65 yards?
That throw was legit.
But I'd like to point out this was against the second-team defense both times.
Still, there was a lot of energy every time he stepped on the field, and he got a lot of applause (Clausen got some boos, actually).
Newton did make some bad throws, but he made up for some poor decisions with his arm strength, like when he hit Clowney (I believe) in the back of the end zone in a receiver-secondary battle from the 10-yard line later.
So overall, I'd have to say you're pleased as Carolina fans with Newton's progress.
And, most importantly, during his interview afterward, he was clearly focused on the next practice, the next install, the next chance to learn.
Greg Olsen...Fantasy Sleeper?
New offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski came from San Diego, as you all know.
Who was his favorite target there?
Now, don't expect Gates-like numbers from Olsen, but he was featured a lot in the offense yesterday, as Carolina did a lot of two-tight end sets, with Olsen lining up in the slot in shotgun situations.
And with Newton still learning the offense, I imagine he's going to hit his short dump-off options at first.
Enter Olsen, who presents Newton with a huge target.
Don't believe me?
Panthers fans believe, after Olsen went up between two defenders and caught a ball as he fell down to the turf. He made Jimmy Clausen look good, that's for sure.