William bounds pepper

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William bounds pepper

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What is your opinion of the Carolina Panthers?

Please, only those who actually pay attention to the NFL. I'm looking for people who pay attention to this sport to give their opinion on this question. Only 2 more weeks until preseason starts..OMG I'm so freakin' excited I think I'm gonna explode!!!

They're my obsession, so I feel I can answer this pretty well. Delhomme is the Tom Brady of the NFC; people can dispute that, but look at his poise in the pocket, his ability to raise the level of play, and his passion for the game. Weinke proved his worth last year too in Detroit, so I feel confident there.
Foster will be healthier and prove what he started to last year- that he is an effective and dangerous runner on all routes, including North-South. I am excited to see how John Fox and Dan Henning want to use DeAngelo Williams, but I would guess that he will see a lot of time in the kick return game and add yet another weapon to the most underrated part of the Panthers' game plan: the screen pass. Eric Shelton is determined to prove his critics wrong, and Nick Goings and Brad HOOOver is still around, so we're good at RB.
Steve Smith is a beast no matter what route he's running and who is chasing him, and the key will be keeping him happy with the number of balls thrown to him. I think he still has some maturity issues, as evidenced by last year's Dallas episode. But I think the media gives him a bad rap, and he knows how important he is to this team, so he'll keep being a stud. Keyshawn was a tremendous pickup, and he will keep secondaries honest with Smith. Drew Carter and Keary Colbert will make their plays in the slot, and it seems that Fox wants his tight ends to be blockers first and foremost, which they are.
I think Carolina made a mistake releasing Adam Meadows this week, because I sense some depth issues on the offensive line. Wharton is talented but small at left tackle, and Evan Mathis needs to grow up fast at right guard. But, Hartwig was a clutch signing, and he and Mike Wahle should steady the interior line.
Our defensive line looks as good, if not better than 2003. Obviously, the key is Kris Jenkins' health, and we just have to pray that he's back to 100% for good. If he's even at 80%, though, he's still one of the best DTs in the game. His return means big things for Julius Peppers, and Maake Kemoeatu and Rucker will make nightmares for backs across the league. Also, their depth is amazing, so they can give offenses different looks throughout the game.
Their linebacking corps is by far the weakest position. This scares me, because I saw what a lack of LBs can do to a playoff team (last year's Giants). Morgan, maybe moreso than Foster or Jenkins, NEEDS to stay healthy. We also need to see the big-hit ability of Thomas Davis right away, and hope that a combination of Chris Draft, Na'il Diggs and Keith Adams can plug the rest of the slots in this unit. There's definitely potential here, including rookie James Anderson, but this is the unit to monitor in the preseason for sure.
The cornerbacks are finally a position of stability for us! Gamble and Lucas are among the best in the league at being fast, aggressive ballhawks. Gamble just needs to improve in overall coverage skills. Getting Reggie Howard back was nice after the loss of Ricky Manning Jr., and Richard Marshall has first-round talent. Safety is another concern, but I feel bullish on Shaun Williams and Colin Branch being healthy, and Minter is a mainstay and rock. Plus, we have big hitters all over our defense, so safety is a weakness that can be covered up slightly by our other strengths.
John Kasay (except for his INEXCUSABLE KICKOFF OUT OF BOUNDS IN THE SUPER BOWL) is a Panther legend, and Jason Baker made everyone forget Todd (Steroid) Sauerbrun. And, with speed in the return game, we will defintely score a couple return TDs.
The intangibles on this team are great. John Fox is a great leader and example for the locker room, and the team is full of great personalities. Much is made of the Steve Smith-Keyshawn potential problem, but Johnson is a guy who gets down to business, and he will make it happen. They play in a stadium with great and passionate fans, and they have the experience from the last few years to help them handle success and adversity.
The schedule is definitely interesting and puts Carolina in primetime, which was long overdue. They play the AFC North and NFC East this year, maybe the hardest divisions in each conference. The opening eight games are tough, including a home opener with the Falcons, a two-week trip to Baltimore and Cincinatti and a Sunday Night game hosting the Cowboys. I see them going at least 5-3 in this stretch. After a Week 9 bye, they host Tampa on Monday Night, and two weeks later begin a grueling five-week stretch (at Washington, Monday Night at Philadelphia, Giants, Pittsburgh, at Atlanta). No question this qill test the team's determination and resolve. But, it's good preparation for the playoffs, and I see them again going no worse than 5-3 in the second half. T
his puts them at a worst-case scenario, in my opinion, barring injuries, at 10-6. Best-case scenario, they run away with a 13-3 mark and sweep up home-field. Either way, this team is playoff-tested, and will march to another finish deep in January. I won't predict exactly where (I WILL NOT JINX ANYTHING), but as of today, things couldn't be finer in Carolina.


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