The Carolina Panthers wrapped up their first set of training camp practices in Spartanburg on Monday, and naturally you have questions.
We at the Observer are here to answer them.
Q. Any chance the Panthers reach out to (former Washington cornerback) Bashaud Breeland again considering the circumstances the team is in at corner?
A. First, the circumstances are sad, but not dire. Ross Cockrell suffered a painful double-fracture of his ankle in an accidental collision on Monday. It required surgery, and it’s season-ending.
But the Panthers also have a ton of competition at the position between Kevon Seymour, rookie second-round pick Donte Jackson and last year’s fifth-rounder, Corn Elder. All of these players are getting snaps on the outside opposite James Bradberry. Don’t sleep on Lorenzo Doss, either.
Cockrell’s football intelligence will be hard to replace on the field, it’s true.
But I don’t think Breeland, whom the Panthers were ready to bring in this spring but who failed his physical, is an option for them.
I think the coaching staff really likes Jackson. And Seymour has looked consistent and has a year in Carolina’s system. Any depth additions would be better served on the offensive line, after Carolina’s starting right tackle Daryl Williams suffered a patella dislocation and MCL tear on Saturday.
Q. Which rookies on offense and defense have been most impressive?
A. Easy. Jackson and receiver D.J. Moore, the Panthers’ first-round pick.
Especially when these two battle each other in individual drills, my goodness, they put on a show. Moore shows really nice separation ability and has this freaky extra gear after he catches the ball. Jackson is really smart, really fast and has great makeup speed if a receiver beats him early. He’s what coaches like to call “tenacious.”
As an aside, it’s also been enjoyable to watch defensive backs simply ricochet off of rookie tight end Ian Thomas.
Q. Has (receiver) Curtis Samuel practiced yet?
No. He has worked with athletic trainers on the side at Carolina’s workouts. It does seem mostly precautionary, though obviously not ideal for last year’s second-round pick.
Players can be taken off the preseason physically unable to perform (PUP) list at any time. But he can’t be put back on it. So the Panthers aren’t taking their chances and giving his body time to heal.
Q. How do the offensive line and cornerbacks shake out with the injuries (to Cockrell and Williams)?
A. An early guess from me here. There’s a lot of camp left.
Cornerbacks: Bradberry, Seymour, Captain Munnerlyn at nickel. I think ultimately Jackson will have the edge over Seymour. He will probably get a lot of snaps in the preseason to test him out.
Offensive line, from left to right: Matt Kalil, Amini Silatolu, Ryan Kalil, Trai Turner, Taylor Moton.
And I wouldn’t imagine Silatolu is sitting comfortably in that left guard spot right now, either. The Panthers will test Tyler Larsen, Brendan Mahon and Taylor Hearn there as well, with free agent addition Jeremiah Sirles able to play both guard and tackle for depth. Mahon is a swing player so he can also play either tackle for depth, but the Panthers like what he’s doing at guard right now.
Q. Who is getting time aside from Mario Addison and Wes Horton at defensive end?
A. Marquis Haynes, the rookie out of Ole Miss, and Daeshon Hall, the second-year player out of Texas A&M, both are getting plenty of snaps in the rotation.
Haynes looks really fast, like I mentioned in the spring. He also has been dropping into coverage in defensive coordinator Eric Washington’s “Joker” package.
But I also want to note this: Addison is going to have a heck of a year. He just looks like he’s operating on a different level than everyone else. It’s almost ... Luke Kuechly-esque ...
Q. How has (UNC product and undrafted free agent wide receiver) Bug Howard looked?
Howard sent everyone a message on Monday when he scored a touchdown and dunked over the goal post.
Q. What are some new Cam Newton nicknames?
I try to keep track of these every year, so here are a few I’ve heard early in camp:
▪ Moore: Sleepy
▪ Jarius Wright: Janky-Thumb
▪ Torrey Smith: Default-Swag
▪ Elijah Hood: Panic Room
I’ll keep my ears open for more as we get deeper into camp.