Carolina's Receiving Corps Isn't the Worst, It's Just Unknown

I have been looking at Carolina's receiving corps and trying to see what we have among so many unknowns. Last year, before training camp, we started out with Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, David Gettis, Lamont Bryant, Domenik Hixon, and Ted Ginn, Jr. I thought LaFell would really have some competition, but Bryant suffered an off-field injury, Hixon struggled with his hammy, and after 3 good preseason games Gettis got hurt during warm ups during the  last preseason game. Fast forward through through the first 4 games, and I was amazed at how well Cam was playing in spite of our 1-3 record. A lot of blame could be put on Shula and his conservative approach when trying to figure out what Carolina had. In the Bills and Cardinals
games, I saw that Shula wasn't the only problem. Our wide receivers were also a major issue. And if I saw it, I'm sure the coaching staff did also. Running routes correctly, getting to the proper depths, getting open, and catching the ball were some of the areas where our receivers consistently struggled. It showed all season. In week 16, at home against the Saints, Smith went down early--setting the stage for LaFell to step up and show he can be “the guy” or a part of our future. Instead, LaFell had no catches, with Cam throwing the game-winning touchdown to Hixon instead. The game was won on the heroics of the defense and Cam Newton. The next game versus Atlanta, for the division title, Smith sat out with an injury giving LaFell, Hixon, or Ginn a chance to step up. I thought one of them would. They didn't. Carolina squeaked out a 1 point victory through defensive domination and 9 total sacks.

So, the question is how much did we actually lose by allowing other teams to overpay for Lafell, Ginn, and Hixon services? This year we added Cotchery, Avant, Underwood, Benjamin, Philly Brown and Marcus Lucas. While we already had Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt from last year, Cotchery and Avant are both solid locker-room guys with great hands and experience.  In the end, Cotcher are still 31-year old backups. Tiquan Underwood has been underwhelming for the most part of his career. Last year, he showed the ability to use his speed to get behind defenses. Last, there are the young unknowns like Benjamin, King, and McNutt.  I strongly feel that Benjamin was the right choice at 28. The flaws he does have are coachable. As for King, McNutt, Brown, and Lucas, we have OTA's and training camp to see if they can add to our receiving corps. If one of them can make an impact, the consequences could be huge.  We don’t know if if the receiving core is bad. Instead, it’s the unknown that has caused all the worry.

By Willie P