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March 27, 2012

Former coaches say Panthers newcomers will help special teams


The former coaches of Haruki Nakamura and Mike Tolbert – two of the Panthers' free agent acquisitions – say each player will help Carolina's special teams.

A big part of the Panthers' offseason focus has been improving a special teams unit that was among the worst in the league last season in most statistical categories. The Panthers hired Richard Rodgers, Ron Rivera's teammate at Cal, as the assistant special teams coach, and brought in players with a proven track record on special teams.

San Diego coach Norv Turner said Tolbert, who was with the Chargers for four seasons, is a versatile running back who blocks well and can catch passes out of the backfield. But Turner said Tolbert's special teams contributions “will be the biggest thing we have to do in terms of replacing him.”

He brought great energy and he's a very good coverage player in the kicking game,” added Turner at a media breakfast this morning at the NFL owners meetings at the Breakers Resort.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh had similar praise for Nakamura, the free safety who spent four years backing up Pro Bowler Ed Reed. The Panthers expect Nakamura to compete with Sherrod Martin at the safety spot while giving the special teams a boost.

I thought it was really smart for Carolina to bring him in and sign him because at worst, you've got yourself a really good backup and a really good special teams player. And at best you might have yourself a legitimate starter,” Harbaugh said.

Haruki's a great guy, a hard worker, tremendous leader. I think the fans will love him.”

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on March 27, 2012 at 09:17 AM | Permalink


They're gonna need these guys big time. For the 9 or so kickoffs a game they have to cover after our crappy Defense gives up score after score. Good job completely ignoring the biggest weak spot on the team Hurney, you continue to prove how incompetent you are.

T-minus 3 minutes and counting until Joe Person removes my post for not being pro-Hurney.

Posted by: Frank | Mar 27, 2012 9:58:09 AM

This helps out special teams without a doubt. Now lets focus on our defense.

Posted by: bob | Mar 27, 2012 10:03:47 AM

Well, it couldn't get any worse.

Posted by: lpdog32 | Mar 27, 2012 10:33:45 AM

special teams lost us the arizona game as well as the minnesota game, and devin hester did a lot of damage as well. These signings will very much help. Defense will be addressed in the draft.. I hope

Posted by: zach | Mar 27, 2012 10:46:50 AM

What are the odds the Panthers pick an offensive lineman with their first round pick?

Posted by: Sambo | Mar 27, 2012 11:09:13 AM

I think these additions in the Big scheme are really smart. How many times has Carolina signed a big "Name" only to have that player under preform or more often get hurt in week one! Teams that win build through the draft and add free agents that don't kill your cap.
I like the balance of players Hurney has added but the feeling I'm getting is these moves don't feel like Hurney. I think were seeing the "Smarts" of our Coach and his staff. Ron & Chud are pulling Hurneys strings and the draft should be just as interesting. We already signed a DT Edwards last year whose coming back so I don't see us going DT with first pick. DE maybe? Most likely I feel a trade down then best LB or CB.

Posted by: CarolinaCheshireCats | Mar 27, 2012 11:28:35 AM

And I TOTALLY agree, C.Cat !

Posted by: nasty704 | Mar 27, 2012 11:47:38 AM


If the defense gets scored on, we get the ball. Coverage team won't be out there. Nice try though.

Posted by: zach | Mar 27, 2012 11:47:54 AM


First the article and now this blog? I don't want you to burn out. This is the worst coverage of any NFL team by a large newspaper in the country.

Posted by: Steven | Mar 27, 2012 12:20:57 PM

Last season the Panthers did not do a lot of trading in the draft. (They traded back into the 3rd to get Tyrell McClain/Sione Fua - one of the two). I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to trade with Cleveland to get Morris Claiborne or Justin Blackmon. I know people are like what? a receiver. But hear me out, Steve Smith will be done in a few seasons, Gettis and Lafell are just second tier receivers, and we need a #1 to replace Smitty at some point. But I highly doubt we don't draft a defensive player. We can get a decent wideout in the second round. We need defensive help, and the draft is where we'll build through. If we trade up, Morris Claiborne. If we stay put, Coples or Poe, if we trade down, you may see an offensive lineman and then a defensive lineman later in the first, early 2nd.

Posted by: el | Mar 27, 2012 1:11:48 PM

@el Last year we did not trade back into the 3rd round. We ended up with 2 picks in the third round last year simply because the 1st round was our natural pick and the other one was a Comp. pick. The only picks that was traded was that from the years prior. We gave our 2nd round pick last year to NE for a 3rd round in 2010. We traded our 7th round pick in the 2011's draft to Greenbay for a long-snapper, then Greenbay traded the pick to Denver. The only trade that affects this years draft is the 3rd round pick we gave to Chicago for Greg Olsen. And we get a 6th round comp. pick this year. As far as trading up in this years draft, I don't see it happening. I think we will probably try and keep our conventional picks from now on, which is unusual for the Panthers.

Posted by: Ganthiger | Mar 27, 2012 1:29:09 PM

I expect the Panthers to draft heavy on defense. DL and DB in the first two rounds. I don't see them trading up for anyone.

Posted by: Brian | Mar 27, 2012 1:48:42 PM

Swap first rd picks with 49ers for crabtree. And get a in defensive player in first and second.

Posted by: delo3428 | Mar 27, 2012 2:39:38 PM

@Delo why trade for Crabtree? I need an explanation

Posted by: kiefw | Mar 27, 2012 5:58:53 PM

this team is always over the cap

Posted by: letha | Mar 27, 2012 6:46:12 PM


You've hit on the precise problem with people that post tripe like Frank did @ the Observer. THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HECK THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT.

Shame on the rest of the readers that didn't post your comment before you did.

Posted by: Panther Fan in GA | Mar 27, 2012 6:49:51 PM

zach, Panther Fan in GA...semantics. Know what that means? Don't get hung up on my word selection kids, you know the point I was trying to get across. OK fine I'll rephrase and spell it out for you...they're going to need these guys on special teams for all the kickoffs to our kick returners this season from scores our shoddy defense gives up.
Better? I'll come down to your level of comprehension to help you out. Perhaps trying offering up opinions of your own, if you have any?

Posted by: Frank | Mar 28, 2012 10:34:55 AM

I still think Carolina will and should take North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples in tonight's NFL draft, unless wide receiver Justin Blackmon falls to them.

But I don't know, and I don't claim to know, what the Panthers will do.

Their greatest need is a pass rusher, and Coples is the most talented pass rusher in the draft. True, Coples has a lot of critics, many in the media. So did Cam Newton, and many of his loudest critics were in the media, too.

Whomever your pick is, enjoy the evening. Maybe see you at Bank of America Stadium. The draft party the Panthers sponsored, for the first time, last season was superb.

Posted by: Monster Beats By dr. dre | Apr 28, 2012 6:01:01 AM

For the 9 or so kickoffs a game they have to cover after our crappy Defense gives up score after score. Good job completely ignoring the biggest weak spot on the team Hurney, you continue to prove how incompetent you are.

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