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November 29, 2010

Williams talks about his future

DeAngelo Williams just swung through the Panthers’ locker room and met with reporters for the first time since being placed on injured reserve with a mid-foot sprain on Nov. 17.

Williams, a first-round draft pick in 2006 and the franchise’s career rushing leader, had a couple of interesting things to say about his future. (Williams is eligible to become a free agent after this season.)

Williams said he’d like to stay with the Panthers, but “it’s not my decision, though.”

Williams lobbied for RB coach Jim Skipper, saying the status of his position coach could weigh heavily in his decision. Most assistants are not retained during a coaching change.

“I’m very comfortable with him. That’s the only running back coach I’ve ever played for. He understands me. I understand him,” Williams said. “So they’ve got all the pieces there. It’s whether or not they want to bring me back.”

Williams said the Panthers have other personnel needs that could determine whether he fits in the budget.

“I’d love to be a Carolina Panther. But if they don’t want me here – or not that they don’t want me here – if they have other things that they have to do,” Williams said. “Because there’s a lot of stuff that has to be done here, and they’ve got to address those issues.”

Despite the fact that the Panthers have three younger tailbacks under contract beyond this season, Williams does not believe the team has a glut of running backs.

“I think it’s a proven fact that you need more than a couple tailbacks to get through seasons sometimes.”

Mike Goodson has played well in Williams’ absence, posting back-to-back 100-yard games in his first two NFL starts. Goodson caught a career-high eight passes Sunday at Cleveland, and teamed with Jonathan Stewart for the Panthers’ best rushing performance (151 yards) of the season.

Meanwhile, Williams continues to rehab his right foot, which he says is close to 100 percent. He said getting healthy is his first priority.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen. I don’t even know if there’s going to be football next year,” he said. “I just know that I’m preparing myself to play football if it’s even possible for us to play. I’m trying to put myself in the best situation, to get my foot right.”

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on November 29, 2010 at 04:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (37)

November 28, 2010

A chip shot, right?

CLEVELAND –- John Fox referenced “Groundhog Day” after loss No. 10 – the Bill Murray movie where his character keeps repeating the same day.

And while the losses keep repeating for the Panthers this year, this latest one was the toughest of a tough season.

Jimmy Clausen and the Panthers get the ball on their own 5 with less than a minute left, out of timeouts. Raise your hand if you thought the game would end with Clausen under a pile of Cleveland players, stripped of the ball and/or his helmet.

But Clausen tosses a swing pass to Mike Goodson, who refuses to go down on a 32-yard gain to get the Panthers to midfield. A couple plays later, Clausen lofts a pass toward Brandon LaFell, who runs a perfect corner route and makes a diving catch – and manages to get out of bounds.

That sets up a 42-yard field goal for John Kasay with five seconds. A chip shot for the reliable Kasay.

Not with this team. Not this year.

“By no means am I ever going to blame a loss on John Kasay,” Fox said. “He gave everything he had, just like our team did. We just fell a little short.”

Clausen grew up a little Sunday, but he still has only one touchdown on the season. The running game came to life for a season-high 151 yards behind Goodson and Jonathan Stewart.

And the Panthers matched their season high with 23 points.

But they needed three more.

“I wish I would have made that kick,” Kasay said. “Things would be real different.”

Instead, as Fox suggested, it was more of the same.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2010 at 08:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

Final: Browns 24, Panthers 23

    This is why you play the game.

    The Carolina Panthers, who had been outdueled by their former comeback king, mounted one of their own, only to fall short when John Kasay missed a 42-yard field goal on the game's final play.

    The Browns took a 24-23 win when Kasay's attempt, which followed a stirring drive by rookie QB Jimmy Clausen, hit the left upright.

    Clausen's earlier pick appeared to seal the game, but they quickly got the ball back, and moved downfield thanks to some nifty plays by RB Mike Goodson and an incredible catch and get-out move by WR Brandon LaFell.

    That play had to be reviewed, and gave the Panthers time to set up what's normally an easy kick for Kasay. But this one started left and never moved, plunking the hardware and killing what could have been known as "The Drive," in Panthers lore.

    The Panthers kept scratching after falling into 21-7 hole, taking the lead with 7:01 left on a Kasay field goal.

    But Delhomme did what he did so many times in Carolina, calmly led a late drive (relying heavily on the run game), which ended with Phil Dawson's field goal with 2:42 remaining.

    The loss drops the Panthers to 1-10, the first time in coach John Fox's era he's had double-digit losses.

-- Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2010 at 04:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)

After three: Browns 21, Panthers 20

    Jake giveth, Jake taketh away.

    The Panthers former quarterback has shown eveyr side of his personality thus far, showing cool and moving his team, and then offering up the big pick.

    In the third quarter, it was Captain Munnerlyn (starting for CB Chris Gamble), who returned his interception for a touchdown that cut the Browns lead to 21-20.

    If not for a missed John Kasay field goal early in the period (which followed a bizarre challenge situation), the Panthers would be leading this thing when it looked like they were done.

    Stay tuned.

-- Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2010 at 03:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

At the half: Browns 21, Panthers 13

    Because Jake Delhomme used to play for Carolina, the comparisons are going to come.

    But today, it's Browns RB Peyton Hillis who looks like a former Panther -- Stephen Davis.

    Hillis has 11 carries for 74 yards and three touchdowns, providing the Browns a 21-10 lead at halftime. That gives him 11 rushing touchdowns on the season, putting him with Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly as the only Browns to hit that mark in a season. The Panthers have no answers for him, his straight-ahead style isn't hard to figure, but it's hard to stop.

    The Panthers offense has faltered after that opening drive touchdown (their first first-quarter TD of the year).

    They did get a 43-yard John Kasay field goal midway through the quarter, but not enough to make you think they're getting back in this game. Even a 32-yard punt return by Captain Munnerlyn didn't net much, as they squeezed another late field goal out of it to cut the lead to eight with 47 seconds left.

-- Darin Gantt


Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2010 at 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

After one: Browns 14, Panthers 7

    You know you expected a shoot-out today.

    The Browns lead 14-7 after one, a start no one saw coming. RB Peyton Hillis has both touchdowns, but former Panthers QB Jake Delhomme is doing his thing, and taking advantage of third-down penalties by the Panthers defense to grab the early lead.
    The Panthers struck first, on a drive that looked very familiar to Delhomme. Jimmy Clausen took them downfield in nine plays, but only threw two passes. One was a dump to Mike Goodson, another a nice third-down conversion to Jimmy Clausen. Goodson, starting ahead of Jonathan Stewart, did most of the rest of the work, capping it with a 26-yard burst.

    It was the first touchdown the Panthers had scored in the first quarter this season. No, really. Then Delhomme went to work, moving the Browns downfield efficiently.

    Hillis scored the TD from 9 yards out, but only after firing a laser off the hands of TE Ben Watson for what would have been a score.

    Delhomme looked about like you'd remember him, nearly throwing an ugly pick to DE Tyler Brayton on an intentional grounding, but also moving his team effectively.

    He spread it around nicely, and keeps his guys in position. The next drive was helped along by penalties by CB Chris Gamble (benched after missing Wednesday's practice) and DE Charles Johnson, who can expect a fine for whacking Delhomme in the head on the more egregious of the pair.

-- Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2010 at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Kevin Greene among HOF semifinalists

    Former Panthers pass-rusher Kevin Greene was among the 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Greene, who played for the Panthers in 1996 and from 1998-99, left the game third on the all-time sack list with 160.0. He had 41.5 of those sacks with the Panthers, and helped lead them to the 1996 NFC Championship Game in just their second year.

    Greene's been a semifinalist each year since 2007.

     The full list includes:

    Jerome Bettis, RB – 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers

    Tim Brown, WR/KR – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Cris Carter, WR – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins   

    Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers 

    Roger Craig, RB – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings

    Terrell Davis, RB – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos

    Dermontti Dawson, C – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Owner – 1979-1997 San Francisco 49ers

    Richard Dent, DE – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles

    Chris Doleman, DE/LB – 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers

    Marshall Faulk, RB – 1994-98 Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005 St. Louis Rams

    Kevin Greene, LB/DE – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers

    Ray Guy, P – 1973-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders

    Charles Haley, DE/LB – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys

    Lester Hayes, CB – 1977-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders

    Cortez Kennedy, DT – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks

    Curtis Martin, RB – 1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets

    Art Modell, Owner – 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2003 Baltimore Ravens

    Andre Reed, WR – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins

    Willie Roaf, T – 1993-2001 New Orleans Saints, 2002-05 Kansas City Chiefs

    Ed Sabol, Contributor – 1964-1995 NFL Films

    Deion Sanders, CB/KR/PR – 1989-1993 Atlanta Falcons, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-99 Dallas Cowboys, 2000 Washington Redskins, 2004-05 Baltimore Ravens

    Shannon Sharpe, TE – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens

    Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League 

    Aeneas Williams, CB/S – 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams

    George Young, Contributor – 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League 


-- Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2010 at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Panthers inactives vs. Cleveland

    Odd look to the inactive list today, as the Panthers are scrambling to find able quarterbacks.

    Brian St. Pierre (old) is inactive, leaving the Panthers with three rookies, including a guy they want to be a wide receiver. Armanti Edwards was throwing in the tunnel pregame with assitant trainer Mark Shermansky, and he's going to be the third quarterback today, in case Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike can't finish. Pike was limited in practice this week with a sore arm, but they're trusting him to back up today.

    The Panthers left LG Travelle Wharton and Ss Marcus Hudson and Jordan Pugh at home as they recover from injuries. That left three healthy scratches: RB Tyrell Sutton (who came along but was doubtful with an ankle problem), DT Andre Neblett and LB Abdul Hudge.

-- Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2010 at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Jake will try to avoid mistakes by the lake

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Just set out to find a Starbucks and the first place I came across for a bagel and coffee was Jake’s.


Jake Delhomme facing his former Panthers’ team is not even close to being the biggest player-facing-his-former-team story here this week.

Clevelanders, as you might have heard, are still fuming about LeBron James’ decision to take his talents to South Beach.

James returns to the city by the lake this week with the Miami Heat, and fans here are being told to leave their “obscene or pornographic T-shirts or signs” at home, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Nice. Let’s hope the Cuyahoga River doesn’t burn again.

But Delhomme’s start against the team he guided for seven years and led to their only Super Bowl appearance at least has made this matchup of two bad teams interesting.

Will it be Good Jake or Bad Jake that shows up today for the Browns?

That will depend largely on whether the Good Secondary or Bad Secondary is on the field for the Panthers.

You remember the Good Secondary, right? Picking off passes – three off Eli Manning in Week 1 – and keeping the Panthers in most games the first half of the season.

But lately the Bad Secondary has been getting torched, allowing the last four opposing QBs to complete 70 percent of their passes while coming up with only one pick during that stretch.

Delhomme proved time and again his last few seasons in Charlotte that he will make poor decisions and throw balls into coverage.

But the Panthers’ defensive backs actually have to be covering someone for those Mistakes by Jake to result in interceptions. And lately that has not been the case.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2010 at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Clausen's Panthers future starts today

    It’s one of Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney’s core beliefs, the idea that you can’t fairly judge individuals when the whole team has gone south.

    But one of Hurney’s pet projects is going to have to perform now to keep a job, even if that’s contrary to his patron’s philosophy.

    As meaningless as the final six games of the season may appear, they could be nothing short of career-defining for quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

    The rookie will start today, in a setting and situation similar to what he’s familiar with from college. It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be raw, and he’s going to be surrounded with sketchy talent.

    But unless he starts proving himself ready to rise above the surroundings, his chance to become the Panthers quarterback of the future may be a short one.

    The reality is that if the Panthers continue to sink and end up with the first pick in the draft, it’s probably going to be hard to bypass Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (assuming he enters the draft). He’s big, he’s strong, he’s smart and tough, and plays in a system drawn up with the pros in mind (and his coach Jim Harbaugh might be thinking package deal).

    Scouts who’ve watched Luck closely this year insist he has the potential to be better than Ryan, than Flacco, than Sanchez or Stafford or Bradford. One who’s seen each of Stanford’s games said last week: “I’m not sure what the questions are going to be with this kid.”

    With Clausen, as well as with his entire team, there are still plenty, and he has six weeks to start answering them, or risk being covered up.

    Before the concussion he suffered on the final play at Tampa Bay, he was in the midst of his best game. He was efficient early, and made a few adult passes as the game went on, the kind of 20-yarders and third-down conversions that a starter has to be able to make when conditions aren’t perfect. The end result wasn’t much to look at, but those handful of throws were the first clear signs that Clausen’s beginning to get it.

    Clausen was drafted because Hurney thought he had a little of that Jake Delhomme toughness, the kind of edge that makes some uneasy at times.  It’s been hard for Clausen to show it this year, so arbitrarily jerked in and out of the lineup. But today’s a golden chance, an opportunity to compare himself to the guy the Panthers are going to compare quarterbacks against for years to come.

    If he can finish this season with a flourish, it might be enough to convince them he’s still the guy. If he flops, it’s going to be hard to ignore the latest, greatest thing.

    Regardless of what Clausen does down the stretch, replacing him after this season would be unfair at it’s core. But go ask Brian St. Pierre and Tony Pike about fair this season.

    Fair doesn’t stand in the way of a reclamation project, and if the Panthers have to good/bad fortune to be in position to draft Luck, even Hurney’s long-held beliefs may not be enough to ignore him.

-- Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2010 at 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)