Notebook: Panthers still looking at options for punt returns

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Panthers.com 01 September, 2021 - 04:06pm 7 views

Is Will Grier still with the Panthers?

The Carolina Panthers are waiving quarterback Will Grier. The former Davidson Day star started two games for the Panthers at the end of the 2019 season but had disastrous performances. ... He completed 53.8% of his passes and threw four interceptions. Charlotte ObserverCharlotte native QB Will Grier released by Panthers

Did Cam Newton get released from the Panthers?

Newton spent nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers before he was released, and then signed with the Patriots in June 2020. According to ProFootballTalk, Newton will leave New England with a $2 million signing bonus and a $1.5 million guaranteed salary for 2021. WSOC CharlotteNew England Patriots release former Panthers quarterback Cam Newton

Where does Cam Newton play?

Quarterback Cam Newton has officially been released from the New England Patriots. Newton played as a Patriots player in 15 games, after a nine-season run with the Carolina Panthers. Tuesday, ESPN confirmed that the Patriots plan to name rookie Mac Jones as the new starter. WXII The TriadFormer Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dropped from New England Patriots

Why did Cam Newton get release?

Last Monday, amid the quarterback battle with Jones, the team announced Newton had to be away from the team until Aug. 26 after a "misunderstanding about tests conducted away from NFL facilities." Sports IllustratedSource: Patriots Release QB Cam Newton; Mac Jones to Start Week 1

Panthers feel QB Sam Darnold will 'benefit from a reset'

Yahoo News 02 September, 2021 - 01:30am

The Rams were faced with a lot of tough calls as they trimmed their roster down from 80 players to only 53, but perhaps there was none bigger than the one at quarterback. No, it had nothing to do with Matthew Stafford or John Wolford, but rather Bryce Perkins, who was No. 3 on the depth chart.

He’ll be staying put in that spot, too.

The Rams decided to keep Perkins on the initial 53-man roster instead of waiving him Tuesday, penciling him in as the No. 3 quarterback behind Stafford and Wolford. It’s an indication of how highly the Rams view Perkins, who impressed in the preseason with 451 yards passing and three touchdowns, as well as 114 yards rushing. He started and played the entirety of the last two games against the Raiders and Broncos, helping carry the second- and third-team offense.

Perkins making the initial 53-man roster doesn’t mean he’ll be active on game days, but it’s a massive step in the right direction for the second-year quarterback. Teams typically only keep two quarterbacks on the roster, so for someone like the Rams to keep a third behind Stafford and Wolford is noteworthy.

Perkins has made great progress since joining the Rams as an undrafted free agent last year, and it really showed in the preseason this summer. He didn’t make any critical errors, was going through his progressions and made highlight-reel plays with his legs – like this hurdle over a defender in Week 1.

— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) August 15, 2021

In an ideal world, the Rams probably would’ve liked to keep Perkins on the practice squad. But knowing another team might claim him off waivers, they decided against taking that risk and kept him on the 53.

He’ll now get even more time to learn Sean McVay’s system in Los Angeles, rather than having to potentially start over with another team if he was waived and claimed by someone else. McVay likes his skillset a lot and not just because he’s mobile, coming away impressed with the way he works through his options before taking off.

Having a quarterback capable of operating the Rams’ offense is valuable, especially in another season where COVID-19 can knock out a position group for a given game. If Stafford were to test positive and miss a game, the Rams would be much better off with Wolford and Perkins at quarterback rather than a free agent off the street backing Wolford up.

It’s partly a matter of being safe than sorry, but it’s even more about Perkins proving his value this preseason, his first game action since his college days in 2019. The Rams were wise to keep him on the 53-man roster, at least initially.

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Matt Rhule discusses roster moves before Tuesday's deadline

Carolina Panthers 02 September, 2021 - 01:30am

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Matt Rhule was sitting in his office earlier this offseason watching game film of an opposing player when his focus suddenly shifted to New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.

The Carolina Panthers coach eventually emerged from his office at Bank of America Stadium and walked down the hall to see general manager Scott Fitterer and asked, “You think Sam would ever be available?”

A few phone calls later, and Rhule had his guy.

The Panthers traded second-, fourth- and sixth-round picks to the Jets for Darnold, who fizzled out in New York after going 13-25 in three seasons as a starter. Yes, he’s a bit of a reclamation project, but the Panthers feel he can thrive in the right environment with the right coaches and playmakers around him — and help solve their quarterback woes following a 5-11 season.

“I think Sam can really benefit from a reset,” Fitterer said.

There’s no doubt Darnold has more weapons with which to work in Carolina.

Running back Christian McCaffrey is back after missing 13 games with injuries last season, wide receivers D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson are coming off 1,000-yard campaigns, and rookie wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and free agent tight end Dan Arnold have also been added to the mix.

Darnold has been up and down during training camp, but looked good in his most extensive preseason action last week throwing for 162 yards and two touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ second-team defense.

“We like his athleticism, his size and especially the arm strength — the ability to throw the deep ball. We like that,” Fitterer said. “And everything, like the person that he is, the toughness and the work ethic — all of those things really stood out to us.”

Darnold’s first hurdle will be facing the Jets, Carolina’s opponent in the regular season opener.

“The biggest thing for him is having poise, and he has that,” McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey became only the third player in NFL history to amass 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a single season en route to earning All-Pro honors in 2019. He played well last year, too, but injuries limited him to 259 total yards and five TDs in three games.

Now McCaffrey is back and eager to get going after sitting out the preseason as a precautionary measure.

“It teaches you a lot and you learn about yourself when you are forced to go through adversity — you either fold or keep going,” McCaffrey said. “It was tough at first and I have such a big appreciation for this game. I will never take that for granted.”

Keep an eye on Marshall, the team’s second-round draft pick out of LSU, who could wind up being a huge beneficiary of playing alongside starting receivers Moore and Anderson where he should receive plenty of single coverage.

The rookie led all NFL wide receivers in the preseason with 181 yards on nine receptions while showing big-play potential.

It’s no surprise Marshall has emerged on the scene so quickly given his familiarity with Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, whom he worked under at LSU. Marshall had 23 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Tigers and Brady knows how to use his skillset.

Defensive end Brian Burns appears on the verge of a breakout season after posting 16 1/2 sacks over his first two seasons. With the Panthers adding edge rusher Haason Reddick (12 sacks last year for Arizona) on the other side and the expected development of last year’s rookie first-round draft pick Derrick Brown on the inside, Burns should see fewer double teams than he did in his previous two seasons.

The Panthers signed Taylor Moton to a $72 million deal to shore up the right tackle spot, but the offensive line still looks like the biggest area of concern. Carolina repeatedly allowed blitzing linebackers and rushers to run free and pressure the quarterback. Given that Darnold has been sacked 98 times in his first three seasons, that is the last thing the Panthers need to thwart their QB’s confidence.

The Panthers are going with untested kicker Ryan Santoso after his strong debut in last week’s preseason finale. About 24 hours after being acquired via trade with the New York Giants, Santoso made two field goals, including one from 52 yards, and three extra points to beat out the slump-stricken Joey Slye for the job. Still, there is uncertainty with Santoso given that he’s never actually kicked in a regular season game. And his 52-yarder was a little shaky, too, hitting off the right upright before bouncing through.

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

3 Reasons Why the Panthers Made the Wrong Decision on Will Grier

Sports Illustrated 02 September, 2021 - 01:30am

Did the Panthers make the wrong decision on Grier? I think so. Here's why:

First and foremost, Grier outplayed PJ Walker in the preseason and it really wasn't that close. In the first game against the Colts, Walker started off strong going 4/5 for 60 yards on the opening drive but struggled the rest of the way completing just 6 of 15 passes which includes going 0 for 5 on his final drive of the first half. Grier had very few opportunities against the Colts but did complete 6 of 10 passes. 

Fast forward to week two and Grier looked really sharp. He finished 11/14 for 144 yards while Walker went a forgettable 1/8 for just eight yards. If you combine the final drive of the Colts game with his entire performance against the Ravens, Walker went 1/13.

In the final preseason game, Sam Darnold played the entire first half which limited the opportunities for both quarterbacks, and for Grier, the 2nd time in three preseason games where he had limited work. The big knock on Grier is that he doesn't have the dual-threat ability that Walker presents. That might be true but Grier does have the athleticism to make plays happen with his feet if need be. We saw him take off for a 24-yard touchdown in the preseason finale against Pittsburgh.

The one thing I have noticed with PJ Walker is his accuracy is a little erratic as the game goes on. He has this trend of starting good and progressively getting worse as the defense begins to make adjustments. Is Walker a bad quarterback? No, but this has been his biggest problem since joining Carolina. It's great to be a mobile quarterback and all but your number one priority is to throw the ball with efficiency. Completing 41% of passes isn't going to get the job done. 

I know carrying three quarterbacks isn't ideal but when there are question marks in the room as a whole, it makes sense to keep three. Sam Darnold looked solid in the preseason but will that translate to the regular season? If Darnold gets injured, the Panthers will be down to just PJ Walker which is an even less ideal of a situation. It's one thing if you have a proven commodity as your starter but the Panthers still aren't sure what Darnold is going to give them. 

Panthers announce practice squad signings on Wednesday

Panthers.com 01 September, 2021 - 01:30pm

The list includes veteran cornerback Rashaan Melvin.

At the moment, the Panthers only have one cornerback on the active roster with an NFL start (Donte Jackson), while A.J. Bouye finishes up a two-game suspension from last year.

The team also brought back the following players: offensive linemen Sam Tecklenburg and Aaron Monteiro, running backs Rodney Smith and Spencer Brown, wide receivers Keith Kirkwood, Omar Bayless, and C.J. Saunders, tight end Stephen Sullivan, defensive lineman Frank Herron, cornerback Jalen Julius, and safety Kenny Robinson.

Practice squad rules remain consistent with last year's expansion, with 16 players. Teams can select two players each week as temporary activations to the game day roster.

Here's the full list of 2021 practice squad signings so far:

WR C.J. Saunders

C Sam Tecklenburg

RB Spencer Brown

S Kenny Robinson

RB Rodney Smith

WR Keith Kirkwood

WR Omar Bayless

T Aaron Monteiro

DE Frank Herron

S Jalen Julius

TE Stephen Sullivan

CB Rashaan Melvin

Carolina Panthers claim offensive lineman Michael Jordan off waivers from Cincinnati Bengals

Cat Scratch Reader 01 September, 2021 - 08:25am

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The Bengals reportedly had recent trade discussions involving Jordan and the Jacksonville Jaguars showed interest. Jordan missed on a block last season, leading to Joe Burrow's season-ending injury.

"He really just said thank you, I appreciate it," Jordan said of Burrow's response. "He told me he loved me, and I told him I loved him too. There's always love between me and Joe Burrow. He's a great guy — hell of a guy. I just really don't have anything else to say to him; I just want to show him. That's all I want to do."

In the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Jordan to help bolster the offensive line. And as a player that came from the area, playing for the Bengals fulfilled a dream for Jordan.

“Getting drafted here meant a lot to me,” Jordan said, according to Bengals.com. “Being from Cincinnati, it's every kid's dream to play for the Bengals. Seeing my dream come true meant a lot to me. Then from actually getting here to the preseason, it's been a long journey and I'm grateful. I've had a lot of the veteran guys help me along the way. They've helped me become an offensive lineman that I have wanted to become.”

Jordan will now take his talents to Carolina, where he'll protect Sam Darnold. The Panthers open their season on Sun, Sep. 12 at home against the New York Jets, Darnold's former team.

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