« Solid safety now available | Main | Minter, Rucker offer revealing snapshot of offensive woes »

June 18, 2007

No need to panic about safety, tight end

If you look at the Panthers’ roster right now, there are two areas of concern that jump out: safety and tight end.

At safety, there’s an aging Mike Minter with no proven player opposite or behind him. At tight end, there are no proven players. You can make a case that both situations are dire.

But think through it a little more: If safety and tight end are your two biggest problems, you’re not really in bad shape.

While those spots are important, they’re not critical. At least not in the Panthers’ schemes. If they had these kinds of issues at, say, running back or linebacker, there’d be cause for panic.

But the Panthers haven’t shown any signs of panic by trying to land a washed-up or overpriced tight end or safety.

The coaching staff believes second-year pro Nate Salley, who worked with the starters in June camp, will be a solid player. The coaches also think highly of journeyman Deke Cooper. If training camp arrives and Salley and Cooper don’t seem ready or Minter has lost another step, there might be a veteran signing (and there will be some decent safeties available at that time). But the Panthers are hoping that doesn’t need to happen.

It’s the same at tight end. Michael Gaines didn’t do much in a starting role last season and veteran Kris Mangum retired. But the coaches believe Gaines has potential. They also believe second-year pro Jeff King and rookie Dante Rosario might have even more potential. And, yep, the Panthers would like the tight ends to be more involved in the passing game, but they’re not looking for the second coming of Antonio Gates.

Maybe the coaches are right. If they’re wrong, either spot can be solidified with a veteran signing down the road.

Posted by Observer Sports on June 18, 2007 at 09:26 PM | Permalink


Brilliant point Pat. Thanks for making it and keeping it that simple. In my opinion, there have been good safeties and tight ends available all along. The fact that the panthers have only brought in one of those tight ends for a look-see, and have only signed one safety from the lot that they are already familiar with, shows that they have confidence in the players they already have at those positions or that their personnel strategy for this season does not account for any new signings there. Truth be told, Fox & company have been slowly but surely making a move toward drafting a pass-catching TE and molding him into a good blocker for the past three years now. As far as safety is concerned, that seems to have always been on the bottom of their priority list. Furthermore, for those of you who think that is the wrong approach, let me just pass on what a good friend told me once; "Don't sweat the technique!" This team has threatened to be in the playoffs, clenched a division title and a conference title since Fox came. He and Hurney have been doing things the same way since they got here. Why change the recipe now? We saw what happens when you try to do things differently last year (which was still not a bad year overall) so trust in what these guys are doing and let the "unproven" but potential play-makers be.

Posted by: SYRPIS | Jun 19, 2007 1:52:47 AM

Bonnell Sucks!

Posted by: CHillyDoggy | Jun 19, 2007 9:16:50 AM

Pat, the only aspect of your post I think you failed to acknowledge is that these are question marks regarding starting THREE starting positions (both safety spot plus TE). They also are paper-thin at LT and DE if either Wharton or Rucker struggle returning from their ACL injuries. Meanwhile, the Panthers have stockpiled three guys that look to be capable of starting at center and an entire gang of INTERIOR offensive linemen. Extra depth in guards and centers is not going to help at either safety spot, or TE or LT or RDE. The starting line-up does look fine (though FS, SS and TE are still question marks).

Posted by: BTHEBALL | Jun 19, 2007 9:40:35 AM

This is for the person who said the Panthers have questions at De & LT. If you go to Foxsports.com the Panthers have already told them who will be starting at those positions heading into training camp. And what Pat is saying is Safety & Te have no proven players, except for Minter. LT & DE have proven players. In fact I feel so confident about our offensive line this year because we have great depth b/c of injuries last year and the experience some young players got.

Posted by: Ronnie Bryant | Jun 19, 2007 10:37:30 AM

The panthers should use the rookie from North Carolina Central named Julius Mcclellan who is 6'4, and 245 lbs, and runs a 4.5 in the 40, he's another Antonio Gates, so he's defintely a sleeper pic at the tight end position. But knowing them, they seem to cut talented players!

Posted by: Bossanova | Jun 19, 2007 1:22:51 PM

For Chilly Doggy, Have you read anything on the Panthers this offseason. I think that DE position is great with Johnson and the great play of Hall in NFL Europa. It seems we have a little depth. As far as the TE position I agree with Pat. If King or Gaines steps up watch out. One Question though, Pat what if Rosario to FB No offense to Hoover, but if Rosario can learn from Hoover, he has played that positon before.

Posted by: Chris | Jun 19, 2007 1:33:06 PM

Bossanova states "they seem to cut talented players!". They all are talented players. The top 1/10th of 1%. So anyone they cut will be talented. The only thing separating 98% of the NFL players is desire, will power, heart and opportunity. Since 66% of the players in camp "have" to be cut to get down to final roster; I would say there is a 100% chance the Panthers are going to cut players with talent.

Posted by: 4Gross | Jun 19, 2007 1:38:00 PM

Jeff King will make many Panther skeptics believers this year. I am firmly convinced we do not need another TE on this team until Jeff King proves he is not worthy of starting. Until then, I say "Go Jeff King!"

Posted by: Seth | Jun 19, 2007 8:22:41 PM

Dont know what that above post was, dont care. all that jumbled up garbage is taking up space on the page, but anyways. Someone said we are thin at DE. we have charles johnson, rucker, stanley mclover

Posted by: okwhatever | Jun 21, 2007 11:12:59 AM

Don't forget Hall. He's tearing NFL Europa a new one.

Posted by: S.H. | Jun 22, 2007 12:19:10 AM

Did those people actually think we care about their plight? I had to wipe their tears off my screen. At first I thought it might be interesting, then they compared Jerry to the mob. Wow. Hey dumb a$$, stop taking up space designated for Panthers fans. Although, I must admit; I thought Jerry Richerdson was the one to kill Tony Soprano in the last episode.

Posted by: Gut | Jun 22, 2007 6:25:52 AM

OK, just read some more of it and this bitch is nuts! She is mad cause she didn't get any money out of a divorse. It is good to hear that NC is not a no fault state still(I live in AZ). No more panhandeling physco women!! GET A JOB!!

Posted by: Gut | Jun 22, 2007 6:38:30 AM

First of all Alexa, we are fans of the panthers, not legal advocates or people in a position to advance your cause. By harassing this message board, you only diminish your case's credibility and come off looking like a lunatic.

Second, yes our safeties are weak, which won't be a problem until Morgan goes down in the fourth or fifth game (and we all know he will). Then instead of Morgan stopping a run up the middle, we will have a rookie linebacker and a 30 year old man or an untested starter. Teams will play us up the middle with the run and then go over top of us every time. We need a better safety and to be deeper at linebacker.

Posted by: James | Jun 23, 2007 10:28:15 AM


Posted by: KARL | Jun 30, 2007 4:15:55 PM

We need a safty bad whether you want to beleive it or not, to make a realistic run at the Super Bowl, its a must. Any player with safty experience would have been a good move but we haven't made a move yet, and its to weeks before training camp. Linebacker and Safty were our big problem area's before the draft and they still are. I love the panthers but we are lacking speed back there. Mike is good but lets be real he's a tad bit to slow. Jenkins is good tradebait,I hate to say because he's such a great talent. For some reason I feel his time in charlotte is limited. Remeber Deon Grant, he looks real good right now. Mr. Fox please get you a safty right away and his key attributes sould be size and speed. The Cover 2 is not that hard to learn and if you put a big body, with speed back there it would be a NightMare for the rest of the league.

Posted by: Born_ah_heel | Jul 14, 2007 10:26:30 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.