« Panthers set Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium for Aug. 3 | Main | Canadian DT Gaydosh hopes to crack Panthers final roster »

June 18, 2013

Five surprises from Panthers minicamp

It was three days in shorts and helmets.

So Panthers first-year general manager Dave Gettleman, while pleased with what he saw during the mandatory minicamp last week, cautioned not to put too much stock in it.

The real test will come in Spartanburg in six weeks when the pads come on and the intensity rises along with the heat and humidity.

But there were a number of pleasant surprises during the Panthers' minicamp. Here are five:

JqzLR.St.1381) Armanti Edwards – Some have been trying to bury the former Appalachian State QB for two years.

When the Panthers drafted Joe Adams in 2012, Edwards would be gone. When they signed Ted Ginn Jr. this past offseason, surely that would be the last of Edwards in Charlotte. Or so the thinking went.

Entering Year 4 of the Armanti Experiment, Edwards is beginning to look like an NFL receiver. He's running fluid routes and catching the ball in traffic.

It likely won't be enough to make him the No. 3 wideout. But it should keep him on the roster for another year.

2) Josh Norman – Panthers coach Ron Rivera says both cornerback spots are wide open, but Josh Thomas and Norman spent a lot of time with the first team last week. Norman was benched at the end of his rookie season because of his inconsistent play and freelancing in coverage.

Secondary coach Steve Wilks said Norman came back for his second season more disciplined and focused. He has the talent and confidence to be successful if he improves his technique, particularly in zone coverage.

3) Star Lotulelei – The All-American nose tackle from Utah showed up in good shape and was everything the Panthers thought they were getting when they drafted him 14th overall. Maybe a little more.

On draft night, the Panthers said Lotulelei needed to improve as a pass rusher. And with second-round pick Kawann Short more accomplished in that area, it was thought Lotulelei might come out in certain passing situations.

But he was on the field a lot during minicamp.

Rivera says Lotulelei already has “come a long way” as far as using his hands to shed blockers.

4) Robert Lester – A school-record nine players from Alabama were drafted in April. Lester wasn't one of them.

But the former Crimson Tide safety, who had 14 interceptions and was part of two national title teams in Tuscaloosa, had a solid spring and is in the mix for the strong safety spot opposite Charles Godfrey.

Lester has good size (6-1, 215 pounds) and instincts, and that championship pedigree.

5) Ben Hartsock – The veteran tight end showed he could catch the ball. Who knew?

Hartsock spent most of his first nine seasons as a glorified third tackle, clearing space for running backs and protecting quarterbacks and rarely getting any balls thrown his way.

But Cam Newton targeted Hartsock on a number of underneath routes at minicamp, and Hartsock caught everything.

--Joseph Person



Posted by Observer Sports on June 18, 2013 at 05:05 PM | Permalink


if robert lester turns out to be a stud, that is a great find for gettleman outside of the draft.

kind of hard to understand why a starter from alabama goes undrafted entirely. I mean there were some questionable 4th round picks, let alone 7th.

I think norman will be fine and he and thomas hold down those spots for the next 4-5 years.

as much as edwards probably won't be the #3 receiver, he should be. ginn and hixon are older and have more tear on them.....we establish him as the #3 this year and we may have a guy that stays in that role for the next 5 years or even elevates to the #2 guy. you haven't seen anything negative from him outside of the fumbles on punts his rookie year.

Posted by: charlottean | Jun 18, 2013 6:15:29 PM

charlottean, some good points, if AE can hold his own, I agree!

Posted by: LB3 | Jun 18, 2013 7:05:23 PM

I can't quite agree with charlotean. If Lester turns out to be a solid contributor then gettleman had a great find. Hoping he will be a stud is just not gonna happen

The point about an Alabama starter not getting drafted is a bit near sighted, or should every Alabama, USC,Florida, Ohio state, (insert every big name BCS school) get started. Certainly the NFL makes mistakes but the fact that 32 teams passed on him proves a point that he is not gonna be a stud. By the way I hope I am wrong. I hope he is all world Ronnie Lott badass all world.

I also hope Norman and Thomas do well for years to come. Being behind a much improved d-line makes them much better then last year and who knows with a stud safety like Lester playing behind them they may be even better!!

I absolutely disagree with giving Edwards the #3 wr slot based on age . Again I would love to see him develop into the 2 or 3 but only based on proving himself. There may not be a lot of negative to say about him but it is just as hard to say much positive. The reality is that he has yet to beat out the likes of pretty below average numbers 2,3,4 or 5 WR for that matter. If Hixon, ginn, gettis perform better then let's move past the armanti experience

Posted by: Carolinacard | Jun 18, 2013 8:13:31 PM

Oops my point was should every big time bcs school starter get drafted?

Posted by: Carolinacard | Jun 18, 2013 8:17:09 PM

If that guy from Appalachian makes the team opposing teams can use their punters in the secondary.

Posted by: Bobby | Jun 18, 2013 8:22:12 PM

While it's very encouraging to read the many positives from mini-camp, I as many Panther fans, have read these same positive notes every single year since 1995 during this time of year. I've learned to keep these columns in perspective. It's not until the preseason games are played that I truly get some sense of where the team is at prior to the season. With that said, I never saw anything from Newton in the preseason during 2011 and didn't think he'd go out and be the player he's turned out to be. Granted, he's still got a long way to go, but he's proven me wrong about the Panthers drafting him. No, I've never been a Newton hater as so many I've read on here and many other sites have commented on him negatively. I was actually hoping the Panthers would draft Patrick Peterson in 2011. As it turns out, both are great players, but the Panthers were in much direr need of a franchise QB that a CB. I just thought Newton was a one year phenom and we truly didn't know then what his potential was. I loved the Panthers first two picks in this year's draft! With only 5 picks, one can do so much. Besides, there will be better WRs in next year's class in my opinion. They can also address their secondary and offensive line then too with more picks. GO PANTHERS! :)

Posted by: Gary LaShier | Jun 18, 2013 10:49:20 PM

LB3 had a good assessment, I have nothing against Edwards but we have been paying him for 3 years without any production. If in 4 years he cannot at least move to the #3 spot then I think we cut him.
I am hoping the Panthers are a good team this year and Cam can finish games and not give up when we are behind.

Posted by: jack | Jun 19, 2013 8:39:00 AM

The said the same thing about Armani Edwards last year and he did what? Nothing. Smitty needs help and I highly doubt it is coming for Edwards. No disrespect intended, but OTA's and football camp is just practice. Game time is where you really need to produce, and to date, Edwards hasn't been producing the numbers to warrant a start. I read somewhere that they picked up Dixon from the Giants...he would be a good secondary. He was able to put up some good numbers when Nicks was hurt. Dixon will be a good addition to the severely lacking WR's.

Posted by: Leroy Brown | Jun 19, 2013 9:56:02 AM

All of these things are slightly less relevant than a guy trying to make the bobcats, scoring 15 points in a summer league game.

Posted by: John | Jun 19, 2013 11:24:28 AM

Let's give the little Mascot all the playing time possible come preseason. Throw him out there with the first team, finally letting him sink or swim. If he cannot handle first team defenses and the secondary, it is time to cut bait before the 1st regular season game. Enough with the experiments. This mascot has been given enough time and chances, so either play with the big boys and the first team, catch passes and make it happen, or go home.
Panther fans don't mind eating crow if Armanti turns into a starting receiver in the NFL, but everyone is tired of all this dicking around and allowing a useless player to constantly take up roster space.

Posted by: No more seat cushions? | Jun 19, 2013 12:02:41 PM

Armanti should not be on this team, it's really that simple. He's at best the 7th WR. If he were to be cut, no other team in the league would pick him up.

He's having a great camp, so what. Rember Taye Biddle?

Let's see how long Joe Person lets my comment stand before censoring it per usual...

Posted by: Steve | Jun 19, 2013 1:38:03 PM

Gee "no more seatcushions" or should I say Rob. Just because your precious central michigan QB couldn't hack it in the NFL, you continue to lambast this kid who HAS proven himself. Its amazing how your vitriol gets amped up when you post anonymously.

Posted by: Ben | Jun 19, 2013 1:55:22 PM

Ben, I'm curious, how as Edwards proven himself in the NFL?

Right now he's one of the biggest draft bust in Panthers history. In my opinion it was the single worst draft pick that Marty Hurney made.

I'll gladly eat crow if I'm wrong, but he showed no improvement in his 3 years in the league.

Posted by: Joey | Jun 19, 2013 2:35:08 PM

20 touches and... Who had the longest play from scrimmage last year for the Panthers in 2012? Armanti.
Who had the longest punt return last year for the Panthers in 2012? only two attemps. Armanti.
Who had the longest kickoff return for the Panthers last year in 2012? You guessed it. Armanti.
Who had the most yards per touch last year? Armanti. Who had the longest pass reception in 2012. That would be Armanyi.
How many fumbles did Edwards have last year? Same as 2011. ZERO.

Posted by: Ben | Jun 19, 2013 3:06:56 PM

Who got chased down by a punter on a punt return? That would be "Armanyi" too.

Posted by: Steve | Jun 19, 2013 3:13:30 PM

The key with Edwards will be proving that he can put it all together once the pads are on and the hits start coming. If he has a good camp and shows his worth in the preseason, then he is good to go for the season. It is as simple as that.

Posted by: Jamey | Jun 19, 2013 3:36:18 PM

And just to add on...Ben makes an excellent point that WHEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY last season, Edwards did show vast improvement in his ability to make plays. He was able to beat coverages and get open, he was able to be decisive with returns and protect the football. Did he get chased down by a punter - yes. Did he get the return inside the 20 and put the team in the red zone - YES. Did Captain Munnerlyn or Joe Adams have any long returns in 2012 - NO.

The skeptics of whether Edwards was drafted too high will always have an argument, and will always likely be correct. BUT...those who simply dismiss him as useless and "wasting a roster spot" made up their minds long ago and will never be willing to give credit for the improvement he has shown.

Posted by: Jamey | Jun 19, 2013 3:40:17 PM

I remember looking at my friends while watching Edwards return that punt and saying, "the App State folks are going to live off that return up until the day he's cut and maybe longer."

'tis true it seems...

If the Panthers are good this year Edwards won't touch the field. Ginn was brought in to replace him on the one thing he's almost competent at. If the Panthers implode again as they've done both years on Rivera's watch and are playing meaningless games by mid-October AGAIN, then Edwards will get some time so yet again we can "find out what he can do." But if that's the case, what's the point??

Easily the most polarizing Panthers since Peppers but with 1/100th of the talent, this guy.

Posted by: Steve | Jun 19, 2013 3:47:06 PM

Lester has 3 National Championship rings... Not 2. He was a solid player in the college ranks, lets hope it translates to the League.

Posted by: ABC1 | Jun 19, 2013 4:17:11 PM

Sorry Steve, I couldn't understand what you said with a mouth full of crow.

Posted by: Ben | Jun 19, 2013 5:17:14 PM

Hey Ben Dover...My name is not Rob, you doomazz! What does Central Michigan have to do with this discussion? Oh, you mean the first pick in the NFL Draft this year was from Central Michigan...that's right! Armanti "The Mascot" compared to Central Michigan's Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers)? Yeah Ben Dover, let us compare players by NFL position, shall we? Oh, you lose AGAIN! Antonio Brown was in the same draft as Armanti "The Mascot" and he not has a $48 million dollar contract. In 2011, he was voted the Steelers MVP. As for Armanti "The Mascot?" Not so much.

Please, take you little Division II school and go cheer up a storm somewhere else, as your precious little Mascot sucks.

Posted by: No more seatcushions? | Jun 19, 2013 8:52:31 PM

Typo...Antonio Brown NOW has a $48 million contract, as he is the star receiver on the Steelers. Please, Ben Dover, take your little Mascot and run along now.

Posted by: No more seatcushions? | Jun 19, 2013 8:54:48 PM

Notice how Ben Dover has comments for everyone else, feeling as though he has to save this worthless piece of App State trash from the incinerator? You wear your Armanti Edwards jersey proudly...as they will go on sale at the Dollar Store soon enough.

Posted by: No more seatcushions? | Jun 19, 2013 8:58:18 PM

Ben, I'm a panthers fan, so I want him to work out.

But a combined sub 600 yards for passing, receiving, rushing, punt returns, and kickoff returns in a 3 year career, does not equate to someone being proven.

Look, Fox was bad about about putting young guys on the bench and letting them ride it, but Edwards has been through 2 coaches that didn't want to play him. There's got to be a reason for it. We gave up the 33rd pick in the draft for him, this guy's numbers don't equate to a proven player after 3 years.

So where do I rank him at his position?
1) Steve Smith
2) Brandon Lafell
3) Domenik Hixon
4) Tedd Ginn
5) David Gettis (if healthy)
6) Pilares/Adams/Edwards

He could be the 6th WR, or the 7th, or 8th.

Maybe we keep 6, but we wont keep 7 or 8 WRs. 6 is stretching it.

Making the team is going to be really tough for Edwards.

Posted by: Joey | Jun 20, 2013 9:27:24 AM

Bottom line...Edwards hasn't really been given a chance...a play here and a play there is all he has been given....as to been tackled by a punter....the punter ran maybe 20 yards and Edwards ran about 80 yards (moving right to left down the field)...this could have happened to most players, so stop hating....You moved a QB to WR (place he doesn't play) going up against the BEST in the world...4th or 5th WR isn't bad when most WRs "NEVER" make the NFL, even from the "BIG SCHOOLS"

Posted by: Robert | Jun 26, 2013 6:16:06 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.