« Early Sunday camp update | Main | Stewart's new tutor: Natrone Means »

July 27, 2008

Stewart's Stiff Arm -- and more from camp

SPARTANBURG -- Rookie running back Jonathan Stewart made a strong first impression on veteran cornerback Ken Lucas during the opening practice of Panthers' training camp Saturday morning.

Lucas came up to pursue Stewart and was greeted with an aggressive stiff-arm from the first-round pick who bench presses over 400 pounds, weighs 235 and has run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds.

Lucas grinned Sunday during a lunch break when he recalled his first practice encounter with the back the Panthers hope will be the power runner they've lacked since Stephen Davis.

"It was very strong, I must admit," Lucas said of the stiff-arm, which backs sometimes use to fend off defenders.

"I went over to the sidelines and told the guys, we’ve got us something here. He’s going to be able to get a lot of those tough yards for us when we need them. The more we stay off the field, it helps us out as a defense. I welcome him.

"I think he’s going to be good for us. He’s not a rah-rah type of guy. He just goes out there and get the job done. It’s what this team needs. We need more character guys who are going to go out there and do what they’re paid to do. I think he’s one of those guys."

(x)

Lucas, who's known for his candor, also raved about changes the coaches have made to the defense.

Though he wouldn't provide intricate details, he said players would be more free to make plays than in the past.

"It's just allowing us to go out there and play now. It's taking a lot of the thinking out of the defense," said Lucas.

"This game is very simple. It's you against the guy in front of you and may bhe best man win. It's not about trying to trick another team. That's what we've done this year.

Lucas said he liked the way the defense performed in Saturday's opening practices.

"Guys were swarming to the ball," he said. "I think it had a lot to do with things looking more simple. Guys went out there using their athletic ability. Hopefully, it'll keep getting better as the season gets closer."

(x)

Sunday's practice starts soon. I'll be out there with David Scott, Tom Sorense and ertswhile photographer Jeff Siner, and we'll keep you posted.

So far, there's a very positive vibe to this team. Every training camp I've ever attended featured players and coaches looking forward to the new season. But this group appears especially loose and excited. There's not a sense of heavy pressure -- at least not yet -- despite the fact that the coaching staff is under fire to win, or else.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on July 27, 2008 at 02:46 PM | Permalink

Comments

I think much of that easygoing, loose nature has a lot to do with the fact that the "win or else" thing has been overblown a lot by the fans and the media, rather than actual pressure from Richardson or the front office. Jerry knows this is the best staff the team's ever had, and something fewer than 16 games missed out of Jake Delhomme in the last two years would likely have put us in the playoffs for both of them.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Jul 27, 2008 3:37:22 PM

Count me in the group that says this IS a win (at least make the playoffs) or else season

Posted by: matt | Jul 27, 2008 4:00:57 PM

Procton, if Fox does not make the playoffs which would be 5 out of 7 years even you can admit it is a time for a change

Posted by: David | Jul 27, 2008 4:37:06 PM

Honest question... Do teams ever have training camps where the team doesn't look good?

Posted by: Mav | Jul 27, 2008 5:08:53 PM

Mav,

If you read between the lines, yes. The Panthers have had training camps where they looked pretty bad. In 2001, the talk was about how Jeff Lewis "still had a ways to go" to learn the QB position. He went from starting QB to dumped from the team the week before opening day, and the 1-15 season ensued. A few years before that, Deon Branch had a horrific knee injury in camp. Or, there was the time in (I think) Capers' final year, that the Panthers and Falcons got into a brawl following a scrimmage.

Scott Fowler is usually the one who's most ready to say, "uh huh. They don't look good this year." He's been wrong in that judgment before, but he's also not shy about talking about the good or the bad.

Posted by: Michael Bacon | Jul 27, 2008 5:19:09 PM

Yeah, and if you read Darin Gant's report, you'll read where he says that Brayton is struggling going up against Jeff Otah

Posted by: matt | Jul 27, 2008 5:30:43 PM

In that case, it looks like Otah and Stewart both are earning their keep.

Posted by: Roger | Jul 27, 2008 6:07:12 PM

I just can't wait to see that stiff arm against the side of rhonde barbers head

Posted by: jack | Jul 27, 2008 6:20:33 PM

Jack, LOL. Would pay to see that one.

The Panthers are coming off a disapointing 7-9 season in which they played 4 QBs. They have thier franchise QB back, (Better than ever from all accounts) and added talent and depth all over the board. So yes, it is quite alright to be opptimistic. Go ahead, it actually feels pretty good.

GO CATS! and JAKE!

Posted by: iamhubby | Jul 27, 2008 7:44:53 PM

These quotes from Lucas regarding the new defensive scheme that they are implementing seem all way too similar to those quotes from the offensive line last year when the "Zone Blocking scheme" was installed. And we all know how that story went last season.....

"Allowing us to just go out and play"......."Taking the thinking out of the game".......""You just have to block the guy that's in front of you"......."Things are simplified"......."Letting us use our athletic ability".......

I mean these are almost identical quotes from the OL this time around last year... I mean if this is the case, why in the heck did thy not make these changes years ago. Are Eric Davis and Jimmy Hitchcock two of the other 4 coaching interns with the team, and are they the ones that developed the idea???

I'll believe it when I see it. It's not like the coaches were holding the players back from tackling the opposition in years past??? I know that Lucas is saying things that we all want to hear, but he doesn't have to sugar coat anything.....I just hate to hear stuff like this in the preseason...like the "zone blocking", only to be disappointed once we start going up against teams in the regular season.....

Posted by: Hackney | Jul 28, 2008 12:27:40 AM

These quotes from Lucas regarding the new defensive scheme that they are implementing seem all way too similar to those quotes from the offensive line last year when the "Zone Blocking scheme" was installed. And we all know how that story went last season.....

"Allowing us to just go out and play"......."Taking the thinking out of the game".......""You just have to block the guy that's in front of you"......."Things are simplified"......."Letting us use our athletic ability".......

I mean these are almost identical quotes from the OL this time around last year... I mean if this is the case, why in the heck did thy not make these changes years ago. Are Eric Davis and Jimmy Hitchcock two of the other 4 coaching interns with the team, and are they the ones that developed the idea???

I'll believe it when I see it. It's not like the coaches were holding the players back from tackling the opposition in years past??? I know that Lucas is saying things that we all want to hear, but he doesn't have to sugar coat anything.....I just hate to hear stuff like this in the preseason...like the "zone blocking", only to be disappointed once we start going up against teams in the regular season.....

Posted by: Hackney | Jul 28, 2008 12:27:42 AM

These quotes from Lucas regarding the new defensive scheme that they are implementing seem all way too similar to those quotes from the offensive line last year when the "Zone Blocking scheme" was installed. And we all know how that story went last season.....

"Allowing us to just go out and play"......."Taking the thinking out of the game".......""You just have to block the guy that's in front of you"......."Things are simplified"......."Letting us use our athletic ability".......

I mean these are almost identical quotes from the OL this time around last year... I mean if this is the case, why in the heck did thy not make these changes years ago. Are Eric Davis and Jimmy Hitchcock two of the other 4 coaching interns with the team, and are they the ones that developed the idea???

I'll believe it when I see it. It's not like the coaches were holding the players back from tackling the opposition in years past??? I know that Lucas is saying things that we all want to hear, but he doesn't have to sugar coat anything.....I just hate to hear stuff like this in the preseason...like the "zone blocking", only to be disappointed once we start going up against teams in the regular season.....

Posted by: Hackney | Jul 28, 2008 12:27:44 AM

Whoops...

Posted by: Hackney | Jul 28, 2008 12:28:19 AM

You just had to put that back out there, didn't you Charlse...

"despite the fact that the coaching staff is under fire to win, or else."

Everything is looking up and there is no dirt to report, so you just had to stir the pot, didn't ya!? I'm watching you.

Posted by: SYRPIS | Jul 28, 2008 12:45:50 AM

I think it's true that many fans see this as a "win or else" season. Not all. Maybe not even most. But some certainly do.

Does Richardson see it that way? Seemingly not as much. He did pull Fox and Hurney together to discuss the future plans for the team. But he's been supportive of these guys for quite some time now.

Unless the fan situation gets really ugly after another frustrating season...either from a poor personnel situation (reflecting problems with the GM/coach/scout evaluations)...or from a boneheaded decision-making or scheme stubborness standpoint (reflecting a problem with coaching philosophy)...I just don't see Richardson pulling the trigger on changing things after this next season. IMO, A LOT would have to go wrong this year (aside from injuries) for that to happen.

Posted by: NSpicer | Jul 29, 2008 12:46:11 PM

The past two years we've all said that this is a make or break season for the Panthers but this time I believe is for real.

Posted by: MurkN | Jul 29, 2008 7:39:53 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

Advertisements