Panthers Archive

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Panthers select Utah defensive tackle in NFL draft

Lotulelei

Lotulelei

Star Lotulelei, a first-team All-America defensive tackle from Utah, was chosen by the Carolina Panthers in the first round.

He’s a big-time player but there are questions – mostly about his ability to rush the passer and his struggles with weight. He had 42 tackles last year, five were sacks.

“He’s strong, he’s quick and a tough kid,” draft guru Mel Kiper said. “A very good player but the pass rush wasn’t there.”

Analyst Jon Gruden added that the pass rush is a concern. “If you don’t rush the passe, you don’t play,” Gruden said. “He’ll help them sto the run and get in passing situations but will he close the deal with the pass rush.”

He also had heart issues that physicians believe was related to a virus.

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Two former Panthers teammates die a day apart

A pair of former Carolina Panthers teammates died over the weekend.

Northern Arizona University assistant football coach Jeff Lewis, who played in seven games at quarterback for the Panthers from 1999-2000, died at age 39 of an undisclosed pre-existing condition.

Bryan Stoltenberg, an offensive lineman who played in 42 games with 18 starts for the Panthers, died at age 40. He recently underwent surgeries after a car accident in December. An autopsy is expected to reveal he died of a blood clot.

“We are very saddened to learn the news of the passing of former players Jeff Lewis and Bryan Stoltenberg,” the Panthers released in a statement. “Both men always represented the team and organization in the best possible manner, and our thoughts and prayers go to their families.”

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Panthers end season on a high note

The Carolina Panthers ended their football season at 7-9 with a 44-38 victory at New Orleans. See a video recap.

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Panthers say they’re peaking with only two games left

Panthers.com writer Max Henson says the Carolina Panthers are peaking. Unfortunately for them it comes with just two games left and no chance to reach .500 on the season.

Henson writes:

Beating the division champion Falcons before flying across the country to dominate the Chargers has inspired a ton of confidence in the Panthers locker room.

They are playing their best football of the year, and then some.

“I feel like we’re playing as well as we’ve played in about two years right now,” linebacker Thomas Davis said. “We are doing it as a team, doing it together.”

Third year defensive end Greg Hardy agreed with Davis’ valuation.

“Most definitely. This is the pinnacle of my career,” Hardy said. “It’s basically because everybody believes in it. We’ve always had talent, but it’s about the mentality and the atmosphere around here.”

That atmosphere has been noticeably different of late.

Offensively, the Panthers starting fast and stringing together lengthy touchdown drives consistently. The defense limited the Falcons to their second-lowest point total of the season before giving up just one touchdown against the Chargers.

All of that has added up to renewed confidence, and that’s been a key ingredient to the Panthers’ first back-to-back wins of the season.

“There’s a lot of confidence in what we’re doing,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “Playing with confidence is big, and that’s what we’ve done.”

Said Davis: “It’s been going on around here for the last few weeks. Guys are really buying in to what’s going on. We are going out and making those (critical) plays, and once you start doing it, it becomes contagious.”

Sunday’s home finale against the Oakland Raiders presents Carolina with the opportunity to win three straight games for the first time since 2009, when the Panthers won their last three games of the season.

To read more, please click here.

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Things really falling apart in Charlotte as rumors fly about coach, franchise

The Carolina Panthers were handled easily 36-14 at home by a team coached by their former head coach John Fox.

At 2-7 during a year some thought the Panthers would at least contend for a division title, the rumors are flying.

Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer writes, “Despite the rumors, the Panthers aren’t going to Los Angeles. But they are headed toward the bottom of the standings. It’s as if they have a standing reservation. They finally won a game last week but whatever momentum they hoped to generate faded Sunday after another Denver sack or another Peyton Manning completion, another Carolina turnover or another Panthers’ special teams error.”

Dave Friedman, a sports columnist, writes, “the guy that got fired leading to Rivera’s hiring beat the Panthers in every way possible. John Fox, who was unemployed for about for about five minutes when the Broncos scooped him up, reminded Panthers fans and management that sometimes the status quo beats the unknown.”

The Panthers are 8-17 without a win over a team with a winning record since Ron Rivera took over as coach.

Friedman adds, “Fox, who took over George Seifert’s 1-15 mess and two years later was in the Super Bowl with Jake Delhomme leading the way, is now 15-11 with the Broncos including a playoff win with Tim Tebow at QB.”

Rivera may be gone as the Panthers coach at the end of the season but some are calling for the ouster now. Even though the odds aren’t great, the bigger issue may be whether or the Panthers will even be around.

California political officials have been courting Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to move the team to Los Angeles. Richardson says he’s committed to keeping the Panthers in Charlotte because of his connections to North and South Carolina. ESPN is reporting that a source close to Richardson, however, that if Charlotte balks at helping him with some of the stadium renovations the Panthers have been wanting, it could happen.

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Panthers drag Redskins into disarray

After the Carolina Panthers defeated the Redskins for only their second win of the season, the Charlotte team has dragged the Skins down with them. Now both teams, with strong fan bases in the Triangle area, are in disarray. The Panthers fired its general manager a couple of weeks ago and criticism has been heaped on Cam Newton and Coach Ron Rivera. Now, Redskins fans and sports radio announcers are calling for the heads of Coach Mike Shanahan, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. In addition, the Redskins players themselves seem to be turning on Shanahan, who […]

After the Carolina Panthers defeated the Redskins for only their second win of the season, the Charlotte team has dragged the Skins down with them.

Now both teams, with strong fan bases in the Triangle area, are in disarray.

The Panthers fired its general manager a couple of weeks ago and criticism has been heaped on Cam Newton and Coach Ron Rivera. Now, Redskins fans and sports radio announcers are calling for the heads of Coach Mike Shanahan, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

In addition, the Redskins players themselves seem to be turning on Shanahan, who implied that he has given up on this season after the disppointing 21-13 loss which dropped the Skins to 3-6.

“Now you’re playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come. Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at,” Shanahan said. “Obviously, we’re not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we’ve got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season.”

Several unnamed players spoke out against the comments. But one went on the record. “You have a lot of guys that want to win now, people toward the end of their careers who have been here a long time, haven’t been to the playoffs in a long time,” Lorenzo Alexander said. “Bein’ 3-6 really [stinks] because right now we’re on the outside looking in. I’m not thinkin’ about next year. That’s an offseason thing for me. But you know it’s hard when you see yourself in that type of position and your head coach is saying those types of things. It’s disappointing.”

The Redskins appeared ready to play the Panthers and did win the war between the 20s but suspect play calling by coaches and ineffective execution by players failed to get the Skins in the end zone until late in the game.

An unimaginative fourth and one play at the goal line where QB Robert Griffin III took the snap and just ran to the right failed and seemed to turn the tide toward the Panthers, who had a swarming defense and a big play offense.

The Redskins secondary has been suspect all season and a couple of big pass plays from Newton was all the Panthers needed to beat the inept Redskins defense, who are also suffering from the lack of a pass rush due in part to injuries to Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker.

Meanwhile the Panthers have a reprieve from the onslaught of criticism. But it probably won’t last long as the 2-6 Panthers host the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos next week and will probably only be favored once or twice the rest of the season.

It’s even worse for the Redskins, who have a bye this weekend but then will be underdogs in its next four games in a row – against the Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and Ravens.

Griffin, the new Messiah in Washington, is about the only piece of the Redskins puzzle that has remained unscathed. But he has been unimpressive the last two weeks and has nagging injuries including sore ribs he suffered in the first quarter against the Panthers.

He is more likable than Newton, and most all quarterbacks in the league, and he has a great upside but for all his excitement, it hasn’t translated to wins yet. With the Redskins in at least as much disarray as the Panthers, they may not improve on last year’s 5-11 record.

Shanahan needs to clarify his statements and use the bye week to energize this team. Meanwhile, should the Panthers use its new-found confidence to defeat the Broncos, it could give them hope for the future and excite their local fan base.

Just three weeks ago, it looked like the Redskins had taken back the mantle of interest in the Triangle area. A disappointing loss to the Panthers has changed that and has to be a kick in the teeth to Redskins fans who live and grew up in North Carolina. A seemingly inferior team, which displaced the Redskins from being the “home” team in our area, defeated their beloved Redskins.

If there were one game on the schedule that area Redskins fans wanted, it was this one.

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Tiresome issue of race rears its head again concerning Cam Newton, RG3

As Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III get ready to face off for the first time, some people are still stuck in the ’50s and ’60s and want to assign the issue of race to everything. Warren Moon, the former NFL quarterback, and some national media types blame racism for the recent criticism of Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton. Meanwhile, the Washington Post glorifies Griffin’s race as the new leader of the Washington Redskins. When someone with Newton’s talent performs poorly and acts childish and surly, he’s not going to endear himself to fans regardless of his color. If anything, […]

As Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III get ready to face off for the first time, some people are still stuck in the ’50s and ’60s and want to assign the issue of race to everything.

Warren Moon, the former NFL quarterback, and some national media types blame racism for the recent criticism of Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton. Meanwhile, the Washington Post glorifies Griffin’s race as the new leader of the Washington Redskins.

When someone with Newton’s talent performs poorly and acts childish and surly, he’s not going to endear himself to fans regardless of his color. If anything, being black shields him from criticism because of white guilt, political correctness and the fact that many white people, probably due in part to their own athletic inabilities, think black players are better athletes.

On the other hand, race is viewed positively by Washington Post writer Dave Sheinin who writes:

“Someday, you knew he would finally arrive, right? The One: an athlete so brilliant, so likable, so rooted over time in the region’s culture, he would lift the entire community. A transcendent figure — less a messiah than a soulmate for the populace — who would be more than this city’s champion, but its face. Theoretically, it could have been anyone, but realistically, in this city, it could only be this: an electrifying, young African American quarterback for the Redskins.”

Huh? Only a black quarterback could satisfy Redskins nation? He says this in part, I suppose, because Washington, D.C. has been called “The Chocolate City” due to the large number of black residents. First of all, a large portion of Redskins nation is not black, most in fact. Second, do people only root for others of their own race? Are black people ditching the Colts in Indianapolis because they picked Andrew Luck rather than Griffin? Do white people not attend the NBA Wizards’ games anymore because the team consists of all black players? Are the stands of either the Redskins or Wizards occupied primarily by black people?

The issue of race has become tiresome – from the black quarterback issue to the names of sports teams (like the Redskins).

To their credit, both Newton and Griffin dispute the race angle.

A few days ago, Newton said, “I haven’t heard (Moon’s) remarks, but when it comes to race and this game, I don’t think there is none at all.” There may be an issue of grammar however.

While acknowledging that others may view him a certain way because of his race, Griffin says, “My parents raised me to not ever look at race or color so it doesn’t have a big part in my self-identity.”

Amen.

Either drop the race issue or pressure the NFL to hire more white cornerbacks (there hasn’t been one in the NFL in 10 years) and criticize people as racist for not following sports because of the lack of players of their particular race. Where are all the minority hockey fans?

Drop it already.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Editor’s Note – To read the very, very long Washington Post piece on Griffin and race, please click here.

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Frustrated Newton plans suggestion box, calls reporter “sweetheart”

Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback, continues to sound frustrated after the Panthers lose once again, this time at home to the Dallas Cowboys.

He went so far as to say he was going to start a suggestion box to figure out what’s going wrong. Of course, he called the female reporter “sweetheart” which is sure to start another 15 minutes of bad publicity for him.

During a post-game news conference, Newton said Newton said, “I’m going to leave this room and I’m going to bring in a suggestion box and I want your suggestions to be in that suggestion box because I sure don’t know. I really don’t. I wish I could tell you. But the only thing I control, sweetheart, is myself. Offensively, I am the leader of this bunch and we haven’t been getting the job done.”

Earlier he said, “This taste, this vibe – I’m not buying it, man. And I don’t know what it is but something’s going to have to change. Something’s going to have to change real fast.”

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Panthers say the bye week was helpful in preparation for Dallas and the rest of the season

The Carolina Panthers are coming off a bye week with a 1-4 record and, with the Dallas Cowboys on the horizon this Sunday, the team things the week off was helpful. Fullback Mike Tolbert said, “We obviously have a sense of urgency. The week off definitely helped us; I think it helped everybody. We’re ready to get back to work. We don’t have any more bye weeks. We’re here throughout the rest of the year. We have to come out and get wins. It’s crunch time.” He added, “We know we’re so much better than what we’ve been putting out […]

The Carolina Panthers are coming off a bye week with a 1-4 record and, with the Dallas Cowboys on the horizon this Sunday, the team things the week off was helpful.

Fullback Mike Tolbert said, “We obviously have a sense of urgency. The week off definitely helped us; I think it helped everybody. We’re ready to get back to work. We don’t have any more bye weeks. We’re here throughout the rest of the year. We have to come out and get wins. It’s crunch time.”

He added, “We know we’re so much better than what we’ve been putting out there. This team is better than 1-4. We have to show it every day.”

Defensive end Charles Johnson said, “If we want to do something special we’ve got to win now. We’re back at it. We’re on our grind trying to get this ‘W’, trying to get this streak going.”

He added, “Every game is a must win game, but I feel there is extra pressure on us for this game. We need a win bad, especially at home. We want to start the new quarter (of the season) with a 1-0 start.”

After practice Monday, head coach Ron Rivera said, “Mentally, they were into this week already. Physically, they looked refreshed.”

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Video: Rivera talks loss to Seahawks

The Carolina Panthers fell to 1-4 after losing 16-12 at home to the Seattle Seahawks. “I think the thing we have to understand more so than anything else is that when it’s harder, we’ve got to buckle down and play better,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “There is really no simple answer to this other than to just keep working hard and keep believing in the process.”