Cam Newton and the unbeaten Panthers head south this week to take on the division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Coming off their first divisional win last Sunday that ended up closer than the stats would indicate, the Panthers now travel to Tampa to face the league’s number one overall pick, Jameis Winston, and the Buccaneers (1-2). The Bucs have still yet to pick up a home win under head coach Lovie Smith and will be looking to do so against a Panthers team that continues to accumulate injuries.
With Luke Kuechly (concussion) officially out another week, and DE Charles Johnson (hamstring) now out until at least Thanksgiving, Carolina will need rookies and role players alike to step into larger roles to maintain it’s #7 defensive rank.
Expect more snaps from rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson this week, who’s seen increased playing time in every game thus far, and continues to impress. With Thomas Davis now listed as Probable with a shoulder injury, Thompson may even see a full slate of starter work – which is unusual for a player making the conversion from running back. He continues to learn at a fast pace however, making several crucial stops against the Texans and Saints that called for veteran instinct at the position.Also look for newly acquired DE Jared Allen to jump into the rotation right away, hoping to help a defensive line that’s underwhelmed through 3 games. Although he just flew into Charlotte to join the team at practice this week, a pass-rusher as achieved as Allen is in a plug-and-play situation – as Ron Rivera noted in his post-signing press conference.
Impact players Josh Norman, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and Charles Tillman are all listed as probable as well heading into Sunday, all of whom practiced in full on Friday and will likely see their full allotment of snaps. Here’s the full injury report, from Panthers.com:
|Philly Brown||WR||Illness||Full Practice||Probable|
|Jerricho Cotchery||WR||Ankle||Did Not Practice||Out|
|Thomas Davis||LB||Chest||Full Practice||Probable|
|Dwan Edwards||DT||Non-Injury||Full Practice||Probable|
|Luke Kuechly||LB||Concussion||Did Not Practice||Out|
|Josh Norman||CB||Non-Injury||Full Practice||Probable|
|Amini Silatolu||OG||Ankle||Did Not Practice||Out|
|Jonathan Stewart||RB||Tibia||Full Practice||Probable|
|Charles Tillman||CB||Non-Injury||Full Practice||Probable|
|Mike Tolbert||FB||Groin||Full Practice||Probable|
|Daryl Williams||OT||Knee||Did Not Practice||Out|
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Josh Norman vs. Mike Evans
Josh Norman continues to make a strong case for an All-Pro season, which I’ll dive further into later, but this week he’ll line up across from the biggest and most physical-styled receiver he’ll have seen so far this year. Mike Evans, while showing some rust coming back from a hamstring injury, still managed to top 100 yards last week in Houston, and Jameis Winston has shown an immediate trust in his top pass catcher, targeting him 17 times in the 19-9 loss to the Texans. He’s been a dominant force in the league since the Buccaneers selected him in the first round last season — and along with Odell Beckham Jr, a large part of why Kelvin Benjamin’s thrilling rookie campaign flew largely under the radar.CAM NEWTON CATCHING SOME GOOD PUB
Newton’s publicist has no doubt had a great workweek, while the quarterback has graced every national media outlet – for things other than sideline towel vogue. After leading Carolina to a 3-0 start, and commanding the offense both on the ground and through the air, he’s built himself a solid case in the early-season MVP race.
Now — before Charlotte reads this and anoints him the best in the league, let’s objectively acknowledge that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are playing on a different level right now. But there is no quarterback in recent memory that has done more with less around him. However you’d like to frame it, he is in fact in the conversation and proving to be worth every penny of his newly-signed extension. Here are a few excerpts describing his impact through 3 games:
“Yes, the defense — which ranks seventh overall — has played a large role in the team’s success. But the fact is, Newton has basically been responsible for all of the Panthers‘ offense, generating 76 percent of their offensive yards — 792 of 1,044 — and seven (five passing, two rushing) of their eight total touchdowns. Despite the lackluster receiving corps, they rank a respectable 16th in total offense. And I think the Panthers’ 100 Million Dollar Man has proven himself to be the most valuable player in the NFL”
-Gil Brandt, NFL Media Senior Analyst
“Of all the 3-0 teams, to me, the most impressive is Newton’s Panthers. He has gotten to 3-0 with maybe the least amount of offensive talent around him in all of football… Most importantly, the guy who was supposed to be a fake-smiling snake has become one of the best human beings in the sport. He has displayed the leadership skills of an Aaron Rodgers or a Tom Brady—yet at times, outside of Carolina, he still hasn’t been recognized for it.”
–Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report
“There are few quarterbacks better at spinning beauties than Cam Newton when he’s protected well. He won ugly in the first two weeks before a terrific outing against the Saints. New Orleans’ ball control offense limited Newton to only three first-half drives, yet he calmly abused Brandon Browner and the Saints‘ secondary when given the chance. Newton was dominant deep all game. It’s a great sign the Panthers kept throwing the ball with the lead in the second half.”
–Greg Rosenthal, NFL.com Editor
I’ll say again that if everything continues as it does for 13 weeks (which almost never happens in the NFL), the MVP award is truly a two-horse race between Rodgers and Brady. But Newton is playing his best football of his career, which is great to see at a time when the Panthers Super Bowl window is beginning to open. There are two types of teams in the NFL: Those who have a viable franchise quarterback to rely on, and those who don’t – and the Panthers surely won’t find themselves in the latter for a while.
While Carolina plays Tampa twice each year, the Buccaneers haven’t actually faced Cam Newton since 2013. In their two meetings last season, Newton sat out with unrelated injuries – and watched Derek Anderson throw for a combined 507 yards and 3 touchdowns, en route to 2 critical wins.
The second came in December, amidst a 5-game Carolina winning streak that ultimately led to a 2nd straight division title, and first playoff win of the Rivera/Newton era. The Panthers have won the last 4 in their series with Tampa, and 6 out of the last 8. And let’s not forget, 2 of Cam Newton’s most exciting career plays have come against the Buccaneers:
1:00 PM EST
Sunday, October 4
Jersey Color: Blue
TV Coverage: FOX
Radio Coverage: WBT-AM (1110)
Follow Austin on Twitter for breaking news, injury updates, and general football-oriented rants @Austallings
The Charlotte Hornets received a spike in attendance of over 10% last season. This increase was one of the largest in the NBA, trailing only Cleveland (Lebron), and Atlanta (The Bandwagon Effect). The rise in attendance can largely be attributed to the return of the historic moniker to its origins in a region that revered and coveted the Hornets name. This comes as no surprise as the original team was one of the first things, beyond banking, to put Charlotte on the national stage. It brought in the very sponsors that had avoided the Bobcats brand like a marketing plague. The old/new name also had apparel flying off the shelves with the first-night sales dwarfing all records the team-store had set on it’s best night with the Bobcats. The name brought fans. On many game nights the crowds went flocking to nearby uptown restaurants and bars. Venues like Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub were regularly packed because of their proximity to the Hive. The economic impact was obvious, and the Hornets made their money back on the cost of the re-brand almost immediately.
The excitement leading up to that first season was palpable The anticipation and expectations for the team had arguably never been that high during the entire tenure of the current franchise. The arrival of Lance Stephenson was controversial, but his presence resulted in many fans predicting the Hornets would make the playoffs somewhere between the 3rd and 4th spot. Stephenson was an exciting risk, and a personality that we had never gone for in the history of the organization. This move allowed us to believe that we were actually trying to win and even the the perennially cynical fans found themselves feeling the buzz as they were soon swept up in the hype. The opening night was so magical it almost felt scripted, but then the season happened. The injuries began to pile up and the hopes started to fade with the buzz, but surprisingly, fans kept buying apparel. The attendance dropped a little as the season progressed, but it was still better than what the Bobcats had come to expect. The name return had given the fans a sense of ownership and that pride has given the franchise a grace period to get it together. Even without last year’s disappointing record, attendance was going to drop this season. No matter how hopeful you want to be, the fact remains that was a lot of new season tickets to re-up.
Then the Hornets got Lin. My initial thought was not about the skill set that Lin had as a player on the court but of how much of a genius PR move this was. My brother and I were in awe. Not only is he a good player but you just saved yourself the
embarrassment of a noticeable drop in attendance. The man has 1.48 million followers on twitter and a fanatic following that out shined us in our own house in the heat of Linsanity (granted we were the worst team in the NBA at the time). I remember the one game specifically because Baron Davis got a standing ovation from the home crowd. He’s the personality we wanted from Lance but without all the blowing in the ear BS. This is how you let the rest of the world know that we are not the “Bobcats” anymore and that we are back to the cool teal and purple.
Bringing Lin to Charlotte is also an economic opportunity. The Hornets announced on Aug. 31st 2015 that they had landed a the first ever franchise tire sponsorship from MAXXIS Tire USA. Do you know why that is? MAXXIS Tire has followed Lin and partnered with every team he has played for from New York to Houston to LA and now to Charlotte. This is more than a team name or a popular player, this is the development of an exciting opportunity to grow franchise revenue and shine some light on Charlotte at the international level. This is a chance to showcase the fastest growing city in the Unites States and maybe bring more business here.
The team is also graced with the unexpected coincidence that they will be playing in Shenzhen and Shanghai on Oct. 11th and 14th to play in an exhibition match against the Los Angeles Clippers for the Global Games in a region where Lin has an ever growing following. Erik Spanberg even wrote that
“team executives plan on meeting with potential sponsors while helping a local recruiter make general business contacts for the region, too.”- Erik Spanberg
Lin’s popularity and level of comfort in front of a camera (as shown by his youtube channel) could really help the Hornets on their first appearance as a brand on the global stage.
The arrival of Jeremy Lin in Charlotte has been surprisingly ignored by the national media considering their almost Tebow-level fixation on his first couple seasons in the NBA. Then again, this team is flying under the radar of its own fans who largely fail to recognize that thru deft moves, Rich Cho is slowly trading a red paper clip into a red Porsche. This acquisition of Lin is not only a great fit on the court, but a great fit for the organization’s plans for growth… Business AND Player
(Written by David Walters)
There was a considerable buzz leading up to last season in Charlotte; the team was fresh off a playoff appearance and they were entering their first season as the rebranded Hornets. It appeared that the team was poised for an even stronger campaign in the 2014-2015 season but things were not as they seemed. The team was plagued with injuries throughout the preseason and, despite a fantastic home opener where Kemba Walker knocked down the game winner, things never really seemed to come together for Charlotte as they limped their way to a 33-49 record.
The Charlotte Hornets are now set to start training camp in their second season of a franchise renaissance. There are quite a few question marks going into this season after an extensive overhaul of the roster. With seven new players on the team, the Hornets have retooled the roster for this upcoming season by acquiring players that can help space the floor, opening up more space inside so that the existing core can play to their strengths.
Al Jefferson’s game is less effective when defenses can simply pack it in on defense because of a lack of floor spacing. Both Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist excel when they are able to get to the basket, an aspect of their game that was hampered when teams clogged up the lane on defense because of the lack of any reliable threat from long-range. I liken it to the philosophy that Orlando used a few seasons ago with Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard, where the Magic stretched the floor with four players whose range had to be accounted for, keeping defenses honest while giving Howard the room to operate.
The Hornets thought they had a steal last offseason after signing mercurial guard Lance Stephenson to pair with Kemba in the backcourt. It appears that the Pacers knew something we didn’t though, as Lance had chemistry issues and struggled to fit in. He was hampered by an early hamstring injury, and despite one memorable game winner, his time in Charlotte was painfully forgettable. The team flipped him to the Clippers in exchange for Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes, who was immediately bought out. Hawes is a rangy big man, who had signed with the Clippers but never seemed to fit in…sound familiar? Nonetheless, he adds depth and range to the Hornets, keeping with the team’s offseason goals.
Gone is the team’s longest tenured player in Gerald Henderson; he was moved in exchange for Frenchman Nicolas Batum, a lanky wingman that will bring a versatile set of skills to Charlotte, albeit on a one-year deal. He will likely step in as the Hornets starting shooting guard, and the team will be able to use him as a playmaker at the position with his well rounded skill set. Batum offers size, court vision, and shooting range, albeit on a one year deal. Also moved in that deal was little used 2014 draft pick Noah Vonleh, who was injured in the preseason and rarely found his way off the bench in Clifford’s rotation.
In the draft, the Hornets continued their love affair with Big Ten frontcourt prospects by taking Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, college basketball’s 2014 Naismith Player of the Year. In doing so, they added a player that fills a positional need for them; what Frank lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with versatility and basketball I.Q. He can get buckets down low and he can stretch the floor with his shooting. He showed glimpses of what he can do in the summer league but there were also stretches where he would seemingly disappear for minutes at a time. However, when he was involved on offense, you could see how he could help an offense flow and, in a best-case scenario, he could be a great compliment to Big Al in the frontcourt. It will be interesting to see how the battle for the teams starting power forward position will play out between Frank, Marvin Williams and third year forward Cody Zeller.
Last seasons back up point guard Mo Williams is gone, having left to reunite with LeBron in Cleveland. In his place, is Jeremy Lin. I like this signing, I’ve always felt that Lin was a victim of his own success, and its overshadowed what has since been a very solid career. Lin will fit in perfectly in Charlotte and I think this was a great under the radar signing for the Hornets. Clifford has said he will experiment with lineups that have Walker and Lin on the floor at the same time, which could work well, allowing Kemba to play off the ball more as a scorer.
There is also plenty of competition for minutes as the first wing off the bench. Lin may get some minutes at the position but P.J. Hairston, Troy Daniels and newly acquired Jeremy Lamb will all be fighting for time on the court this season. Hairston is down 13 pounds from last year, having spent part of his summer training with John Lucas; a former player and coach that is known for being able to reach troubled players. Troy Daniels offers three point shooting, but says he has worked on the other aspects of his game this offseason in an effort to improve his value on the court. And , a former teammate of Kemba’s from their UCONN days, is here after spending most of the last three seasons languishing on the bench in OKC. All three can shoot well, and all three are hoping to find their way into a significant part of Clifford’s rotation this season. Ultimately, it’ll come down to who wants it the most, and competition usually does nothing but push players to get better, which should work out either way for the Hornets.
And of course, we still have our remaining core of players between Kemba, MKG and Big Al. Kemba was on fire last season, going on a tear of games with 30+ points before going down with an injury. He never quite regained that form after returning but this season he will have more help around him and he won’t be so pressed to take the scoring load all on himself. MKG, fresh off signing a new contract extension, is the lynchpin of the Hornets defense. When he missed games last season, the team suffered. He brings much needed energy to the Hornets and often draws the opposing teams top defensive assignment. Big Al has also cut weight this offseason, his reason being that he is trying to save his knees in an effort to extend his career. Clifford has said that he won’t be the main focal point of the offense this season, but you can bet he will continue to be a major part of what the Hornets do on offense, particularly now that the team has improved their floor spacing.
It’s an exciting time of year, training camp has started and preseason games will get going this weekend. Despite the question marks entering this season, there is an heir of cautious optimism after last season’s disappointment. Stay tuned as the Hornets get cranked up for the year, it will surely be interesting to see how things play out this season as Clifford has as dynamic and versatile a roster as he’s ever had. Speaking of Clifford, this could be a make or break season for the teams head coach. He coaxed this team to a playoff berth just two seasons ago and it will be paramount that he gets this team off to a good start out of the gates for the Hornets to jump into the mix as one of the easts top teams.
It’s getting to be that time of year again folks, soon enough we’ll be watching our Hornets take the court to sting the competition! Until next time, KEEP BUZZING!!!
you can follow David W. Walters @Original_DWade.
The Panthers start the season 2-0 for the second consecutive year, as they defeat the Texans 24-17 at Bank of America Stadium.
Much like their week 1 win in Jacksonville, Carolina’s 24-17 home victory on Sunday wasn’t without it’s flaws – but provided another valuable talley in the win column. Cam Newton was again the team’s leading rusher, and added 2 touchdown passes to his 76 yards on the ground and 1 rushing TD, which was highlight-material to say the least:
1. Mike Shula Shows a More Aggressive Side
One of the most conservative-minded individuals in football showed a different side of his playbook against the Texans, twice electing to take deep shots at the end zone on 1st & 10 plays — both of which resulted in touchdown passes. The second came directly after AJ Klein’s 4th quarter interception of Ryan Mallet, appropriating a popular strategy to gamble for a quick score after forcing a turnover. With no true number one receiver on the roster, he’ll need to continue this aggressiveness to put points on the board — especially throughout the Panthers’ next slate of games which includes 4 playoff contenders. More on that later.
2. Josh Norman is Making a Push for a Top 10 Season
In his first contract season of a 4 year career full of ups and downs, Norman is stating an early case to be considered with the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Leading the strongest secondary that Carolina has fielded in years, he’s helped limit opponents’ top overall receiver to 60 yards or less and no touchdowns, for 9 straight games now. A list that includes Julio Jones (twice), Josh Gordon, Mike Evans, Jimmy Graham, Jeremy Maclin, and now Deandre Hopkins.
Norman, who played high school football about an hour away from Hopkins in South Carolina, was on him for most of the afternoon and gave up 6 catches for only 40 yards – none for first downs. He’s quickly shot up the Pro Football Focus positional ranks through 2 weeks of top tier coverage, and will likely demand top pay when contract talks open up again after the season. With a pass rush that can’t seem to find a difference-maker opposite Charles Johnson, he’s helped transform this defense’s identity – turning the secondary from a glaring weakness to a game-breaking strength.
3. AJ Klein Could Start at Linebacker for Several NFL Teams
Similar to his rookie season in 2013, when he got his first career start due to a Chase Blackburn foot injury, AJ Klein’s number was called again this week — this time to fill the shoes of the league’s leading tackler. After Luke Kuechly suffered a concussion late in the first half of last week’s contest in Jacksonville, Klein stepped in at middle linebacker and led an defensive performance that only allowed 75 second-half yards — and never let the Jaguars offense cross midfield.
Earlier this week he learned that he would get the start in Kuechly’s void, and once again exceeded expectations. The 5th round pick out of Iowa State, who knows all three linebacker positions, recorded a momentous late game interception that led to 7 immediate points and Carolina’s largest lead of the game. Having a versatile 4th linebacker on the roster who can step up when called on is exceedingly valuable to this defense, as well as Luke Kuechly’s long-term health. From the game film that he’s laid down, to the leadership beyond his years that he’s provided, its safe to say that there are several teams that could use Klein’s full-time services. But with Thomas Davis in his 11th NFL season, and the depth that Klein has afforded the defense, he’ll likely have his contract extended before any teams get the chance.
The Panthers enter division play for the first time in 2015, as they’ll play host to New Orleans at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. The Saints will be looking for their first win of the season after a tough home loss to Tampa Bay, in which they allowed the Buccaneers to rush for 139 yards — the same total that Carolina’s ground attack is averaging through 2 games.
Free agent acquisition CJ Spiller, who underwent knee surgery early in training camp, only saw 7 snaps in his highly-anticipated Saints debut, and will arrive in Charlotte to face a much stingier defense — one inside the top 10 in all major categories.
ANOTHER STRONG START
This marks the second consecutive season that the Panthers have started 2-0, and the only two in the Rivera-Newton era. Dating back to the start of last December (including playoffs), the Panthers are 7-1, with an undefeated record at home.
Frame it any way you like, every major media outlet paints its own narrative anyway, but starting an NFL season with 2 wins gives a franchise a 63% chance at playing January football.
Since 1990, NFL teams that started … 2-0 made playoffs 63% of time 1-1 made playoffs 41% of time 0-2 made playoffs 12% of time
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 21, 2015
Carolina’s biggest obstacle looks to be the division-rival Atlanta Falcons, who find themselves in the same percentile, and have looked strong in the process. The two teams face off in weeks 14 and 16, both of which stand a chance to have major playoff implications attached. Of course, the Panthers will first have to get through a brutal slate of games over the next 6 weeks — one that includes perennial playoff contenders in the Seahawks, Eagles, Colts, and Packers — for those two late Atlanta matchups to have much meaning.
Follow Austin on Twitter for breaking news, injury updates, and general football-oriented rants @Austallings
We have been granted the privilege of being one the Charlotte Hornets fan blogs/sites that was selected to attend “Media Day” on Friday Sept. 25th. As you may have noted in the past we are not like other fan blog/sites. We like to beelieve that we are “By The Fan, For The Fan.”
We want to get you, the fan, involved in the day.
***PLEASE COMMENT on this post any questions you want to see us ask any players and staff we may come across!***
Cant Beat #5
Originally posted on The Raging Tempest:
Ah, the Super Bowl. American football’s biggest game of the year, and one of the most widely viewed annual sports events on the planet.
Oh, how you look so dull now.
While it may work for other events like the NBA Finals or the World Series, who don’t know where their championships will be held, the NFL has gone with a streamlined design for their big game since 2010.
The “all silver everything” is ok I suppose, but it doesn’t make things much interesting for collectibles and such. It also makes fans think back to a time, nearly a decade ago, where the logo for the Super Bowl was a nicely done, location-centric piece that was sure to sell programs and other souvenirs as if it was going out of style (literally).
So now, I’ll bring you my favorite logos from years past. Keep in mind that this trend started…
View original 529 more words