Archive for July, 2012

NFL: Carolina Tandem Ready Again

Friday, 27 July, 2012


By Vidur Malik

The Carolina Panthers became a talking point in the 2011 season thanks to the play of quarterback

Cam Newton. In his rookie season, Newton put up fantastic numbers and showed the potential to be an elite-level quarterback.

Another important storyline for the Panthers last season was the production they got from wide receiver Steve

Smith. Smith was considered one of the league’s best receivers in the mid- and late-2000’s, but saw his numbers fall significantly in the 2010 season. After catching 46 passes for 554 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games in the 2010 season, Smith caught 79 passes for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games in 2011. He returned to elite status and was fifth in the NFL in receiving yardage. With Newton at quarterback, Smith should be able to continue playing at a high level. The three-year contract extension he signed earlier in the offseason shows he will be a crucial part of the Panthers’ offense for at least the next few years.


’s arm strength should help Smith remain a big-play threat as he enters his 12th season. Smith averaged 17.6 yards per catch last season, the second-highest total for his career in that category. Look for Smith to continue making plays over the top of the defense. He can also make plays on short-yardage routes, and his trademark toughness allows him to break tackles and gain extra yards.

Smith is not the only play-making receiver on the Panthers, which should prevent him from seeing too many double-teams. Receiver

Brandon LaFell was the Panthers’ second-leading receiver in terms of yardage with 613 yards and tight end Greg Olsen made a solid contribution with 540 yards and five touchdowns. With these weapons to throw to, Newton should continue putting up top-level numbers, as should Smith.


5-foot-9 and 185 lbs., his lack of size might make fantasy owners hesitant about picking him, but Smith has played in at least 14 games in every season of his career, with the exception of his 2004 season, in which he broke his leg and played in only one game. He doesn’t score as many touchdowns as you would like from your No. 1 receiver, but he gets in the end zone enough to get you points and he can complement those scores by putting up high yardage totals. Players like Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker will get the attention and be the first receivers taken in drafts, so Smith should be available for you to select after the bigger-name guys are off the board.

Smith’s remaining years in the league should be very productive. With a quarterback like

Newton who showed great potential in his rookie season and the other players he has around him, Smith is a smart pick for this season.

Threats to Youth/Veteran Battle in Tennessee

Wednesday, 18 July, 2012


By Zack Cimini

Year one for development for rookie Jake Locker fared well. The Titans knew he needed time to learn and adapt to the NFL level. Instead of throwing him into the lineup they positioned him behind veteran Matt Hasselbeck. Allowing for comfort for Locker, knowing that he would not be forced into the lineup, as what happens with many rookies that are playing behind veteran journeyman quarterbacks.

Year two though for the same quarterback tandem is definitely going to be different. Locker in spot duty showcased freestyle unorthodox skills that adds a different dimension to the Titans offense. Whether throwing on the run or utilizing his legs, Locker proved to be a threat with both abilities. Hasselbeck on the other hand is past his prime but may have a solid few years left in him.

The daunting question arises. Begin building now through bumps with Locker, or continue to try and position? Considering the Titans are in a division with the Colts (Andrew Luck), Jaguars (Blaine Gabbert), and the rising but inconsistent Houston Texans, the plan will likely be too start with Hasselbeck once again.

His numbers were never great last season, but he managed to offset a poor season from Chris Johnson and adjust to playing without big play receiver Kenny Britt. Still, Hasselbeck was unable to stay healthy the full year which has been a pattern dating back to his last few seasons with Seattle. Though he battled through the pain and did not miss a start, management is prepared to insert Locker over an eighty percent Hasselbeck.

Offensive weapons at either quarterbacks disposal is a high area of concern. Somehow the Titans were able to use a platoon of widely unknown receivers with big play receiver Kenny Britt sidelined after a knee injury. The receiver that stepped up the most was Nate Washington. Washington had never been a commodity in fantasy leagues but became a sneaky waiver wire reliable addition. Catching seven touchdowns and having a thousand yard season.

With Kenny Britt just undergoing a second knee procedure July 17th, it will be interesting to see if Britt can be a viable starting receiver. Snaring jump balls and outrunning defenders was Britt’s forte, basically becoming the new Terrell Owens. Statistically based on other athletes that have come off a serious knee injury no matter what sport, you can expect a main decline overall.

For Britt though he can still be a high value touchdown receiver inside the twenty yard line. Especially for the fact that Chris Johnson is not a true red zone threat, and the Titans feed him the ball much more over the way they use to LenDale White in the red zone.

Rookie Kendall Wright will be expected to add a speed element over the top for the Titans offense. He should blend in well. He will have his work cut out for him though learning the offense and likely being a viable part of the offense from the start of the season.

Mentally teams that know there is a likely quarterback change over usually under perform to start the season. Will see if that happens in Tennessee, and which week Locker is inserted.