Wide Receiver Is Already A Huge Concern For Carolina Panthers In 2014
By Danny Cox
In 2013, there was still a good bit of pressure and scrutiny that fell upon the shoulders of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his fault that the pressure was there because he was literally doing all he could to succeed with the team, but he really didn’t have any wide receivers to work with.
Now, the first game of the 2014 regular season is less than a week away and there are already major concerns at the same position. Wide receiver is still a giant problem for the Panthers, and one that was hardly rectified during the offseason.
Looking back at least year, tight end Greg Olsen finished the season atop the receiving yards leader board with 816. Steve Smith had 745 yards, but he’s now with the Baltimore Ravens. Brandon LaFell was third with 627 yards, but he’s now with the New England Patriot. Coming in fourth was Ted Ginn Jr. with 556 yards, but he’s now an Arizona Cardinal.
Those three losses amount to 1,928 of Newton’s passing yards from last year. That’s more than half. All other wide receivers on the team in 2013 caught a grand total of 10 receptions for 74 yards, and two of those three receivers are no longer on the team as well.
Now, rookie Kelvin Benjamin is starting on one side of the field and veteran Jerricho Cotchery on the other. After the starters, there is Jason Avant in his ninth season, Brenton Bersin in his second season (no career receptions), and rookie Philly Brown. Needless to say, but the Panthers are severely lacking in wide receiver experience.
Unfortunately, Brown has done nothing but drop easy catches during training camp and the preseason. He will be used primarily as a kick returner. That being said, the Panthers are pretty much down to just four wide receivers.
With the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quickly approaching, coach Ron Rivera brought in receivers Kadron Boone and Stephen Hill for workouts. There’s been no indication that they will be signed to the team, but the possibility is there.
Boone is an undrafted rookie out of LSU who was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles and then released. Hill at least has some experience as he spent two seasons with the New York Jets. During his time under Rex Ryan, Hill had 45 receptions for 594 yards and four touchdowns.
The Panthers have a good bit of talent on both sides of the ball, but wide receiver is just really going to hamper the abilities of Newton and the offense. If something isn’t corrected quickly, it could be a long season and one that sees a lot of the running game from the Panthers.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.