I’ve been called a negative Nancy, mainly by Mr. T-Money1993, but I admit, I fret. After Carolina’s preseason debut, you’d think I’d feel great. Last season, Carolina had a historic season, making a Super Bowl appearance, and this year their first teams look dominant. The offense in Carolina’s first preseason game did what it willed and Carolina’s offense looks dominant with Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Shaq Thompson on the field. What really is there to be concerned when you get a manimal like Kelvin Benjamin back and a second year player in Devin Funchess, who many believe could outperform KB this year?
As training camp concludes, here are three concerns in Carolina as they head into their second preseason game.
It’s always been a little strange to me there aren’t more good kickers in the world, but like help, a good kicker turns out to be hard to find. The Panthers released punter Swayze Waters this week and signed another Wofford guy, Kasey Redfern, to compete with Mike Scifres. Now I’m not sure where the Redfern grows, but things don’t look great for Carolina’s kicking game at the moment. Rumors are swirling that Denver will be forced to cut either veteran Britton Colquitt or Riley Dixon. It’s been deemed the “Broncos’ most heated camp competition.” and Carolina waiting patiently hoping they can find a reliable guy who can pin teams deep. Right now, Carolina is pinned deep in their own territory with a punter who just had offseason surgery and an unknown guy whose sparks thoughts of kids children’s books and movies. Carolina will need to figure something out quick, or else this may just kick them in the butt.
It’s nice not hearing Charles Johnson’s name when talking preseason injuries for once, but I’m not sure Carolina can depend on him to stay healthy all season. There’s bound to be some sort of challenge facing the positional group, and outside of Johnson and Kony Ealy, Carolina doesn’t seem to have much. Ryan Delaire struggled in his preseason game and I’m tired of hearing how Mario Addison is some great pass-rushing specialist. There are always a group of names fans believe have some hidden value on the Panthers defensive line. For years, we’ve heard it was Frank Alexander, and now it is Rakim Cox or Arthur Miley. Cox may show promise, but he’s unproven and, more important, injured. It’s hard to think Carolina can generate the pass rush needed to protect a secondary full of rookies with Johnson, Ealy, and Delaire alone. At some point, Carolina has to consider making some moves to reinforce this position with some proven talent.
This is the biggest position of concern. It’s been a difficult position for Carolina to find a long-term answer for over the past years. Dave Gettleman has done a great job retooling discarded veterans like Mike Mitchell or Roman Harper in the past years. Re-signing Kurt Coleman, who has turned out to be a gem, has gone a long way to strengthening the Panthers defensive backfield. He’s listed at strong saftety on the depth chart, but Carolina has used him more like a free safety in the past.
Currently, there’s no veteran this year who Carolina hopes to squeeze another year from. Roman Harper is back in New Orleans and third year player, Tre Boston, hasn’t shown just yet that he is ready to take on the role full-time. Boston has shown some promise, but we haven’t seen enough of him yet to know if he can be the guy. After him, there aren’t isn't much. Marcus Ball’s dreads have been more overwhelming than his play and Dean Marlowe has shown little more than promise. Colin Jones continues to be a guy who can run fast, but also always looks lost. None of this is helped by the fact that Carolina has a secondary dependent on two rookie corners, James Bradberry and Daryl Worley either.
There’s a lot to be optimistic about in Carolina. They have the league’s MVP on offense armed with some powerful weapons. The defense also has some of the league’s best talent at defensive tackle and linebacker, but there are some positions of concern as Carolina tries to build a roster that can get them back to and ultimately win the Super Bowl.
What do you think about these identified weaknesses and what do you think Carolina will do to shore them up? Let us know!
By the Profesor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow him on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles