In a sane, just and fan-friendly world the NFL exhibition season would end for Carolina Friday night. Coaches, of course, would like to see players on the cusp of the roster perform in two more games; some players grow when the lights come on, others shrink. But coaches and general managers are creative. Theyll find other ways to determine what they have and who should be part of it. The price of two more exhibitions is too high players can get hurt and fans will get gouged.
• Real referees are criticized, as are real umpires and real basketball officials. So you know the NFL replacement refs will be blasted after every controversial call and microphone flub.
Should the league capitulate and give the real refs everything they desire and require? Or does the NFL remain tough guys and reach a miraculous agreement with officials five days before the regular season begins?
• Some players are fun to watch, and Panthers fullback, H-back, running back Mike Tolbert is one of them. Hes 5-foot-9, 245 pounds and runs like a I dont know. Ive never seen anybody run like he does.
He has a great first step, quickly attains speed and suddenly the only thing thats going to stop him is a runaway truck ramp, or a fumble. Tolbert had one of the latter. But what an option he provides.
• Ive written that Carolinas biggest weakness is its pass rush. It wasnt Friday. Defensive end Charles Johnson was outstanding, as were his first-half associates.
Rookie Frank Alexander sacked the quarterback, as did Thomas Keiser. The Panthers also deflected four first-half passes. When Johnson imposes himself and opponents have to double-team him, the rush ought to be unleashed. If the Panthers dont get to the quarterback, they dont get to the playoffs.