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August 28, 2007

Bridges may be odd man out

Right guard Jeremy Bridges’ arrest just before training camp and subsequent suspension for the season’s first two games left the Panthers in a tough spot. Bridges played in the first exhibition game and the line looked good, but the coaches realized that they had to come up with another unit, since Bridges wouldn’t be around for the opener.

First, they tried center Justin Hartwig in Bridges’ spot, but that didn’t work well. Then Geoff Hangartner got a look there, and most recently rookie Ryan Kalil, a center most of his college career, is filling the slot.

"I think we like the direction we’re heading right now, but nothing is etched in stone yet," offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson said today after practice. I’m writing about Davidson’s efforts to retool the offense in tomorrow’s paper.

It’s important to get the O-line right, because both the passing and running games obviously depend on it. And the most important thing to an O-line is continuity; the players have to almost instinctively know what the guy next to them is going to do in virtually any situation.

Bridges had looked good in training camp at guard; he’s athletic, and played a capable right tackle after being signed off the street early last year. But his mistake may cost him his job even when he gets back. If the five guys playing the first two games — whichever five that may be — do well, Bridges may be the odd man out.

Because after all, it’s all about continuity. -- Stan Olson

Posted by Observer Sports on August 28, 2007 at 04:08 PM | Permalink


Finally Stan, this is the kind things the fans WANT to read about.

I wouldn't like it if Bridges was cut, he's one of the best on the line. Even if he is out the first two games and the line is forced to adjust, doesnt mean they are better off without his gun toting behind.

How about they cut Kenyatta Walker!!

Posted by: Andrew Green | Aug 28, 2007 4:58:39 PM

Given what we've seen without Bridges over the last couple of weeks, I find it hard to believe that he wouldn't be on our best line possible.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Aug 28, 2007 5:03:05 PM

Our line is so much better when Bridges is out there, he can play the tackle and guard at a relatively high level. If the man was suspended for 8 games, a cut may be justified, but two weeks, come on.

Posted by: mattdaddy | Aug 28, 2007 5:10:34 PM

Stan, are you saying that Bridges might get a visit from the Hawk?

Posted by: Hawky McHawk | Aug 28, 2007 5:14:54 PM

Guys, didn't mean to mislede; there's no way they cut Bridges. Just think that as good as he is, he might be relegated to second team duty if the five who play the first two games click...

Posted by: stan olson | Aug 28, 2007 5:20:53 PM

Good to see Stan reading his bloggers comments.

Could they keep Bridges and use him for trade bait to get a safety?

Posted by: catdawgman | Aug 28, 2007 5:38:29 PM

Ok, if the 5 guys on the line click in the first two games click really well, of course they will, or should, keep bridges out of the lineup. Like you said, the o-line depends on continuity, and there would be no reason to mess with that just to get Bridges back into the starting lineup. But even if he is relegated to 2nd team, the he would likely end up as a starter simply because the oline for Carolnia rarely stays healthy. What they really need to do is get rid of Gross after next season, unless of course, they can re-sign him relatively cheap. His play has fallen off each year, grant it, he has been switching sides, but his play should not have dropped off like it has.

Posted by: mattdaddy | Aug 28, 2007 5:46:07 PM

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan, but the bottom line is the Panthers get guys off the street better than high draft picks and overpaid FA's.
Bridges---"As good as he is"...a journeyman, 6th round pick is better than JGross, an 8th overall selection by the Panthers. A guy the observer is constantly writing articles about the Panthers locking him up long term, for what?
I hope this line gets it together or finds a Doc with a loose prescription pad. Any guesses which week Foxy plays the injury card?

Posted by: Red | Aug 28, 2007 9:57:39 PM

Totally agree with Red. Why would we care to lock up Jordan Gross? I honestly don't think these guys (reporters) watch the games, or if they do, understand what they are watching.

Posted by: jason | Aug 28, 2007 10:30:25 PM

Agreed. Jordan Gross is so overrated. Bridges and Wharton our are best linemen

Posted by: Nicky 6 | Aug 28, 2007 11:49:33 PM

First of all, two thumbs up for the Panthers having the courage to suspend him, rather than wait for the situation to "play out." That's why they are a class organization.

If Wharton is our best OL, we are in trouble! Gross was beaten more last year than he should. But OL play is about leverage and maybe more importantly, attitude... who wants it more. Gross, and many others on the team, just didn't want it more. For his tenure here, Gross has typically been more than adequate.

Posted by: Tom | Aug 29, 2007 7:28:37 AM

Bridges is one of the Panthers better linemen and has the versatility to play both guard and tackle. It is not likely they would release him because of a two-game suspension.

Posted by: Wayne | Aug 29, 2007 12:18:37 PM

You know we heard alot going into training camp about our NFLEurope players, but how are they doing now? Any chance of any of them sticking, and if so who? How is our Frenchman doing?

Posted by: Hugh Haynsworth | Aug 29, 2007 2:22:10 PM

It's obvious to me that our starting line will considt of Hartwig, Kalil, Wahle, Wharton & Gross. If it clicks - - -fine, if not, Bridges replaces Kalil. As for who our best OL is, it's Wahle and it isn't close.
As for CB, why are we not starting Marshall.
After him, the drop-off is more than the Panthers care to admit. If we're real lucky,
we'll get a safety out of the final cuts. They definitely have their mind on one or two guys in particular. If we're not lucky - - - HELP!

Posted by: Mo | Aug 29, 2007 4:40:35 PM

Hugh...of the Panthers' original NFLE allocations:
*John Wilson was cut before the completion of the NFLE season
*Steve Sciullo retired before he got back to training camp
*Kevin Garrett and Justin McCullum (injured...this means he may come back to us on IR if he's not claimed, I think) were just cut this past weekend after fairly unimpressive camps AND NFLE seasons.
*Jason Hall was cut a couple weeks ago. He apparently hurt his knee during his MVP season and never got right. I wonder if they keep an eye on him (he's got practice squad eligibility). The coaching staff never got a chance to actually watch him practice or play.
*Of the guys we signed following the NFLE season, none have been cut outright. I find that interesting, because none of those guys got to come to the minicamps or OTAs and didn't even so much as look at a playbook until mid-June. They must definitely have seen some things they liked out of Josh Davis, because they IR-ed him with an appendectomy from at least a week ago, which is certainly not a "season-ending" injury. I haven't heard anything about Bobby Harris, but I've heard reasonably good things about Gardent, and I saw him do a pretty good job in camp when I was down there, although he hasn't really shown up in the games. Everything I've heard about Gary Gibson, though, has been really good. He'd be the one of the four I'd guess could have a shot to make the roster. He's the only guy listed at DL on the official website, which I'll assume to mean he can play inside OR outside. I'd say there's one spot up for grabs between himself, Ball, and Grigsby to replace Carstens after his unfortunate medical situation.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Aug 29, 2007 10:44:12 PM

I was really speaking in relative terms. While I wouldn't say Gross has been "more than adequate", he hasn't been horrible.

He is nowhere near worthy of the type of contract that the C.O has suggested he's due, however. He's decent IF you give him help and don't expect him to hold anyone off for more than a couple of seconds.

He IS NOT the franchise type OL he's often made out to be OR even what the CO has deemed "second tier." He's average and Wharton and Bridges are better.

Posted by: jason | Aug 29, 2007 10:50:30 PM

great job Matt A. and Catdawgman, cant leave you out either Jason, you guys are on point. I'd expect the paper who is stationed in CHARLOTTE to have more exclusive stories and to offer better commentary, but it has yet to happen.

I have a suggestion, I've heard Brentson Buckner appear on 610 WFNZ's the Mac Attack (shout out to Gump!!) and he offers great analysis of the Panthers. The Observor should hire him to run this Blog and take questions from the readers seeing as how the current staff is incapable of doing either.

Posted by: mattdaddy | Aug 30, 2007 9:57:18 AM

I don't know what games everyone was watching last year, but if you watched the STeeler game last season at home, Bridges and Mathis were pitiful. They gave up every sack w/Weinke at QB. He had maybe 1.5 seconds. They were pathetic!! That being said, my hats off to the coaching staff because Bridges has looked good at guard this year. Please do not ever put him at tackle again. And to stick up for Gross, I'd have to say he was the most underrated lineman last year for the Panthers. That was by far his best year ever. I don't think he gave up but 1 or 2 sacks. He was phenomenal to fill in at Left Tackle for Wharton. Everyone can criticize and jump on the bad news bandwagon all they want, but after watching the games over in slo mo, that's my assessment....I'm a little disappointed Hangartner didn't get more of a look at RG. He's been solid all the time...as far as Mathis, not so much, hopefully he'll get better as he gets older, but it depends if we can wait that long.

Posted by: catsfan | Sep 1, 2007 1:16:53 AM

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