The toughest schedule in the NFL heading into the 2013 campaign presents the Carolina Panthers with a hefty challenge. Their roster has gotten a lot of help via free agency and the draft. The question is do they have enough help behind the starters to survive such a tough run?
Offense – David Gettis
Who in their right mind would pay any notice to a man who hasn’t played a single game since 2010? That is what opponents will say about David Gettis, but the Carolina Panthers should understand who they have. Before his injuries in 2011 and 2012 he was a sixth round rookie who collected 37 passes for 508 yards and three touchdowns from Jimmy Clausen at quarterback. At 6’3″ he has ideal size for the position and proved he was better than Brandon LaFell by beating him for the starting job that year. LaFell is slated to start across from Steve Smith this year. The hopes for Gettis outside of the locker room are virtually nonexistent, which means if he stays healthy and makes it to the field there is a good chance he will surprise a lot of people provided he catches the eye of Cam Newton.
Defense – Kawann Short
Fans and perhaps coaches counted their blessings when defensive tackle Star Lotulelei fell to them in the first round of the NFL draft. If not for a minor health concern he seemed like top five pick easy. Instead he heads to Carolina to play between two highly talented defensive ends in Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy. That is what makes second round pick Kawann Short such a gem. He has gotten little to no attention from the media hubs and that is a mistake. Short drew a lot of comparisons to Pro Bowl middle man Randy Starks and features a large frame coupled with deceptive athleticism that makes him a fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 alignment. He can beat double teams regularly and is equally good against the run and pass. The only drawback is work ethic. Scouts claim he will be as good as he wants, which means it is up to head coach Ron Rivera to get the most out of him because there is a lot there to get.
Special Teams – Ted Ginn Jr.
One of the more underscored signings in all of free agency was when Ted Ginn Jr. joined the Carolina Panthers special teams. The veteran receiver is among the most proven return men in the game. Unfortunately he had a falling out with the San Francisco 49ers. Much of it may have had to do with money but also the four fumbles he committed, along with scoring zero touchdowns in 2012. Still, at age 28 he is in no danger of slowing down. The physical skills are still there. It’s merely a question of giving him another chance to show he can make plays wherever the team puts him.