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May 21, 2012

Panthers best position battles, offensive edition

The Panthers begin Phase 3 of OTAs this week, beginning with a helmets-and-shorts practice on Tuesday.

They'll practice a total of 10 days over the next three weeks, before holding a minicamp June 12-14.

It seems like a good time to look at some of the best position battles that will play out over the coming weeks, although most likely won't be decided until training camp.

We'll start on the offensive side.


Candidates: Brandon LaFell, David Gettis, Armanti Edwards, Darvin Adams, Seyi Ajirotutu

Favorite: LaFell

Comment: The Panthers play a ton of three- and four-receiver sets, and their hope is that LaFell will continue to develop and Gettis will come back strong from ACL surgery. If not, they could always rent a veteran like they did last year with Legedu Naanee. Joe Adams and Kealoha Pilares aren't included here because they play exclusively in the slot.


Candidates: Amini Silatolu, Mike Pollak, Byron Bell, Garry Williams

Favorite: Silatolu

Comment: Silatolu's biggest challenge will be mastering the playbook, but the Panthers have little doubt about his physical abilities. Pollak has starting experience with the Colts should Silatolu falter, while Bell and Williams each can play guard and tackle.


Candidates: Jeff Otah, Byron Bell, Garry Williams, Bruce Campbell, Lee Ziemba

Favorite: Otah

Comment: The Panthers shut Otah down last year and put him on injured reserve (again) in the hopes that he could stay healthy long-term. If Otah's healthy, he's the best option here. Hands down. But that's been a big if the last two-plus seasons.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on May 21, 2012 at 02:59 PM | Permalink


This has to be Otah's last chance to stay on the field and contribute. He can't afford anymore injuries because Bell is fully capable of taking his job.

Posted by: PantherCane | May 21, 2012 3:28:45 PM

If Otah does not start all games this year. CUT HIM! It's that simple. Personally, I think he's fat and lazy, and collecting more money than I'll ever make.

Posted by: Bruce | May 21, 2012 3:56:56 PM

It's a contract year for Otah. He will play.

Posted by: Dave | May 21, 2012 4:13:07 PM

I really am pulling for Otah. He is a really good guy and on the field he is an absolute monster when healthy. I hope he, and Davis too, remain healthy and finish their careers here in Carolina.

Posted by: Greg | May 21, 2012 4:13:57 PM

Otah could very well be with us for years to come. Look at Thomas Davis.....he's still with us and the only thing he adds anything to, is the salary cap. Same with Otah. They have both been great players, but their good days have long past.

Posted by: Justin | May 21, 2012 4:40:59 PM

Otah will not respond to any tweets I send to him asking about his health.

Posted by: John Fox Sucks | May 21, 2012 4:43:57 PM

given those options at receiver, i'd honestly like to see us use two-TE formations w/ 2 WRs vs 3-4 WR formations. we really need to write Shockey that check he wants. Maybe Gettis will come on strong and the Smitty/LaFell/Gettis trio will work, but I'm not confident he's going to stay healthy. He's Drew Carter-ish

Posted by: Jason Alston | May 21, 2012 5:06:11 PM

Brandon Lafell is a Beast, glad to see him beasting it up in the nfl!

Posted by: Ben Dover | May 21, 2012 5:14:30 PM

LaFell - this is your year! Gettis should also come along but look out for LaFell... Gary Barnage too - going to break into the league with a bang this year. As far as Otah goes - I think he is done. When a big guys knees are gone they are done. I would like to see Ziemba get a look - I thought he was a steal in the seveth round. I think we have some good depth on the line.

Posted by: Dom | May 21, 2012 5:43:13 PM

I'm with most of the post here on Otah. He is a beast when he's healthy, but the same goes for most of the Panther's starters. But for some reason I don't know if they're trying too hard or they don't warm up well enough or something, but it seems like we can never get the entire team on the field at the same time. They look (offensively) unstoppable on paper, I just hope that carries over.

Truthfully though, since the offense was strong (trough Cam)last year I know that teams will be better prepared for us and will expect the "Cam Show", so if I was Rivera, I'd be making sure that Tolbert and double trouble have a look of special plays ready. I wouldn't say give up on the wildcat, but I wouldn't use it much, unless the coaches can figure out how to get Armanti Edwards somewhere close to what he was in college. Just imagine that!

As for the O-line, they're just as good as any in the NFL. The only thing I would point out is how they protect the QB's blindside. That has been an issue since Delhomme's fall. They haven't had that covered since the Super Bowl run.

Now, even though special teams isn't exactly the offense it does have a big part in either scoring or field position (as we all know) I'd say all they have to do is either score on either opening kick off/halftime (easier said than done) or keep Cam's back just a tad off the 20. Even though I'm not a huge fan of ball control offense (boring), we will have to work on staying on the field offensively as long as possible. Big plays of course are exciting, but we have to avoid shootouts, especially since we have key players on D that are either untested or coming back from major injuries. Create what appears to be a "score at will offense" Always appear in control. When we score, let the scorer celebrate a little, but the team should stay composed and scary, and if we don't score.... stay on the field long enough to bring out a well- rested, hungry, opportunistic, athletic defense. Throw a curve ball that no team will expect until it's too late. Be like a Panther! Forgive me if that last part was kind of corny.

Posted by: Damien | May 21, 2012 6:28:13 PM

Are you 12?

Posted by: cppro | May 21, 2012 6:56:09 PM

To add, Joe Adams, and Pilares will be another pretty dangerous tandem on special teams.

Posted by: Damien | May 21, 2012 7:35:05 PM

contract year for otah, he plays all 16 games..believe that sore knees and all for the money

Posted by: pantherlife | May 21, 2012 9:23:43 PM

number 2 WR will be Gettis or Lafell. Both are going to get a lot of playing time regardless of who is the true starter.

the left guard will definitely be Silatolu, none of the other candidates are really starting quality.

Right Tackle is Otah if he is healthy. If he is injured it will be Bell's spot

Posted by: Tarun | May 22, 2012 12:02:24 AM

David and Brandon going to battle for that #2 receiver but both will have big seasons

Posted by: Hometown Cat Fan | May 22, 2012 2:41:48 AM

I hope they give Pilares more PT in the slot this year...he is a stud slot receiver and I think could replace Shockey's production. Mark my words, given the opportunity he could be a 80-100 catch guy for us. He has a knack for getting open and good run after catch.

Posted by: Braddah | May 22, 2012 4:28:12 AM

I agree about Edwards. Drafting him may have sold some extra tickets to App State fans but it's time to get real now. Joe Adams is already better than him in the return game and at WR. And I would love for everyone to stop asking for the "wildcat" with Edwards. An earlier post asked us to imagine if Edwards would be what he was in college. He already is. He's simply not NFL material.

Posted by: Speez | May 22, 2012 4:11:50 PM

Including Edwards in the WR talk is more appropriate than including Ajirotutu. Remember, Edwards showed a lot of progress as a WR last preseason and now he's had another full year to practice and learn. I'm going to wait until after the preseason to judge whether he should stay around or not, but I could see him playing in the slot a bit this year.

I would hesitate to condemn Edwards just because you're mad at Hurney for making the trade. Personally, I'd give him one more year, let him play out his contract. If he doesn't show anything this year, I don't see how he could be resigned.

Posted by: Mike M | May 23, 2012 10:14:15 AM

LaFell and Gettis are my favs for the #2 slot(alternating) also see Silatolu and Jared Green alternating at the slot ..Some Joe Adams at times also.Shockey and Olsen dropped a lot of balls last year so be careful what you wish for.. GO PANTHERS ... KEEP POUNDING !!

Posted by: Mainone | May 23, 2012 4:50:55 PM

Otah must go ! We need energy and people who will concentrate and wait for the snap.. Also Edwards at receiver must go if he doesn't take charge and become who they think he can be immediately.. No time to play around with this.......gotta keep improving .. enough with the sentimental favorites ..Let's win now ! Jordan Gross needs to wake up and start thinking alertly .. playing like the pro bowler he should be ..he was beaten plenty this last season...

Posted by: Mainone | May 23, 2012 4:59:31 PM

Fact: if Devin Hester was our punt returner last year he would have had the worst punt return avg in the league. Knock Armanti all ya want but it's hard to knock someone that has a halo of 7 defenders around him every time
He fielded the ball.
Fact: David Gettis will lead the league in yards per reception this season.

Posted by: Braff | May 25, 2012 2:50:55 AM

Don't know if anyone mentioned it, but the Carolina backfield is going to be interesting with Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Mike Tolbert. Not to mention Cam Newton is practically a running back at times too.

Posted by: DJ | Jun 3, 2012 4:51:05 PM

Correction: there were actually only two or three defenders around Edwards most time when he caught the ball. Not seven. But you are right saying if we had Hester it would not have mattered. So, like Bush, it's always his fault.

Posted by: Mike | Jul 21, 2012 11:37:21 AM

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