This was a rather uneventful day as the team worked mostly on situations -- like redzone offense, some goal line stuff and the two-minute drills -- and that is probably because it is the day before the real stuff starts - the Panthers go into full pads tomorrow which means there will be full contact drills and that is usually when the men get seperated from the boys.
It is so easy to see and I've seen it countless times before - a guy comes in with a lot of hype, looks really good in T-shirts and shorts then gets hit one time in the mouth during the first day of full contact drills and you never hear from him again.
Of course, looking at some of the freshmen on this team - they may be the ones doing the hitting in the mouth and they may be the ones knocking the heart out of some veterans.
I'm really looking forward to tomorrow, that's for sure, because it is a different game all together when it is played full contact. And while I think sometimes there is a little too much hitting going on in Dave Wannstedt's camps I will say this -- the guys who survive it are tough guys and it certainly pays its dividends in the season because the Panthers in the past few years have been physically tougher and more physical than just about every team they play.
As for my observations from today:
** Greg Gaskins right now is the best option the Panthers have at right guard and that is a little bit scary. Hopefully he gets better. Hopefully the light goes on and as he gets more comfortable and more experience, he plays better. I am not saying it can't happen but I've watched him closely for two days in shoulder pads and he has been really beaten badly by Myles Caragein almost every time they've faced each other one-on-one. Gaskins has been OK when he's had the help of a double team but from what I can tell he is not quick enough out of his stance to really be an effective pass blocker and he hasn't held his blocks long enough to be an effective run blocker. Now, that being said, there is still a long way to go and we've seen linemen develop late in camps in the past but as of right now he has a long way to go. Chris Jacobson on the other hand has stabilized the left guard spot and that is good because it means there are only two positions along the line which need to be addressed. I thought interesting thing that Dave Wannstedt said after practice is that Jack Lippert could actually move from back-up center to guard which means the coaching staff is at least starting to come up with a contingency plan or two should Gaskins and/or Alex Karabin not pan out.
** The "Tino Sunseri is too short" conspiracy theorists would have had a field day today as he had at least three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. Of course, forget for a minute that he has been very good at getting the ball up in the air all camp, the fact that he had a couple batted down proves he is too small. Truthfully, he was a little better today than yesterday, though he still wasn't great but like I said, as the pads go on and the speed of drills increase, he'll catch up and get better every day. Frank Cignetti has been a stickler with all the quarterbacks, as he always is, and it is amazing to see how much he demands of them all. He really pushes them hard to be their best.
** An interesting thing has happened at corner - it appears as if the coaches have made the decision to send Buddy Jackson a little bit of a message by letting freshmen K'wuan Williams and to a lesser extent Brandon Ifill take snaps with the second team. Jackson may be the most physically gifted player on the team - and that includes Baldwin - but something just has not clicked with him and it is clear the coaches want him to get it together. Jackson is a redshirt junior which means he is in his fourth year so it is time for him to step up and be the kind of player his talent would dictate. Williams has been a pleasant surprise and right now, he looks to me like he may be the third best cornerback out there. One would hope that both Jackson and Saheed Imoru rise to the occassion but if they don't it is good to know that the Panthers do have some options at that position.
Stay tuned for more in a little bit . . . .