Wednesday Night Six-Pack, ft. a Mea Culpa for Josh Norman

Bill VothNews, Six Pack6 Comments

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Sometimes the media can be wrong. It can overreact. Shocking, yes. But this is one of those cases, and I’m guilty.

After the Panthers preseason game against the Chiefs, I wrote “(cornerback Josh Norman) may have ended up back in his all-too-familiar doghouse.”

That doesn’t appear to be the case.

With starter Melvin White sitting out Wednesday with a sore back, Norman saw most of the snaps with the ones. And afterward, it sure didn’t sound like a doghouse was getting prepped.

“He’s done a great job this camp. This camp has been exceptional for him,” Ron Rivera said.

The Panthers head coach wasn’t as complimentary Sunday after Norman jawed with Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe. A few minutes after an upset Rivera told the media he pulled the emotional cornerback from the game, Norman wondered, “What’s the big deal?”

That type of disconnect isn’t a great look for a guy who was benched as a starter during his first two seasons, but the Panthers are still very much intrigued by his potential.

The third-year player continues to be “a work in progress,” according to Rivera, but most of that work is being done on Norman’s technique. Coaches are still trying to teach him the little things he tends to get sloppy with, especially in pressure situations.

But while Rivera’s frustration Sunday may have indicated another strike against Norman, it was really just a foul ball.

“The kid’s got so much ability, and that’s what we’re trying to get in his head,” Rivera said. “We’re not trying to take away his playmaking ability. We’re trying to help him increase it and maximize his chances.”

Everybody loves an underdog story. So why is left tackle Byron Bell not embraced by the Panthers fan base?

“The perception. It’s the perception, the perception,” head coach Ron Rivera said after Wednesday’s practice.

“I don’t think he’s been given a fair shake, but that’s perception. That’s the way people look at things. But hopefully he’ll continue to grow and develop, and he’ll be a guy who can prove a lot of people wrong.”

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While the Panthers don’t plan to use their third preseason game as a traditional “dress rehearsal,” the starters will get plenty of work Friday against the Patriots.

“They’re still going to get some good reps, some quality reps. I hope we can get a two-minute drill in the first half with that bunch too,” Ron Rivera said.

The hope is most starters will get 30 to 35 snaps, including quarterback Cam Newton. The plan for him is the same as it was last week: Monitor his surgically repaired ankle, and make sure the offensive line isn’t putting him in too much danger.

Notables who did not practice Wednesday:

  • OT Nate Chandler: Has been dealing with swelling in his knee; won’t play Friday; “The docs feel like this would be a good time to give him some time off,” Ron Rivera said; will be replaced by tackle Garry Williams.
  • G Trai Turner: Tweaked groin against Chiefs; unlikely to play Friday; will be replaced by G Chris Scott.
  • DE Charles Johnson: Tender hamstring will keep him out Friday; will be replaced by DE Wes Horton.
  • CB Melvin White: Back stiffened up in the morning; hopes to return Thursday.
  • LB Chase Blackburn: Return still unknown; “He’s been flat on his back,” Rivera said; LB A.J. Klein will start Friday.
  • S Roman Harper: Could return from turf toe Sunday.
  • S Tre Boston: Got in another good day of work on the side, this time with a helmet on; could return from groin injury Sunday.
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Short, stocky backs who run decisively are a better fit for the Panthers offense than a short, slight guy who’s tentative. That’s the biggest takeaway from Tuesday night’s trade that saw Kenjon Barner go to Philadelphia for a conditional 2015 seventh-round draft pick.

The writing was on the wall for Barner after his 8-carry, 8-yard starting performance in the preseason opener. He wasn’t going to make the Panthers final 53-man roster, especially after Darrin Reaves, and Fozzy Whittaker outperformed the 2013 sixth-round pick in consecutive games.

So instead of receiving nothing for Barner once they released him sometime in the next 10 days, the Panthers picked up a conditional 2015 seventh-round draft pick.

“It’s a win, win. He gets an opportunity to go and play for (Eagles head coach Chip Kelly) that he knows very well, an offense that he’s very comfortable with,” Ron Rivera said. “For us, it gives us an opportunity to pick up an extra draft pick, and at the same time it also sends a message to the two young backs that hey, we’re going to give you guys a clear-cut opportunity to become one of our guys — or both of our guys.”

Kelvin Benjamin appears to be a decent athlete. Not only was he a first-round NFL draft pick, but the receiver has a big-time arm as well.

Earlier this month in Spartanburg, we filmed him launching a bomb to quarterback Derek Anderson (someone posted a GIF here). On Tuesday, he uncorked this before practice:

As you can hear at the end of the video, he was just throwing that one high. Huh. It only went about 50 yards.

So how long could he go if he went for distance?

“Probably about 75 yards,” Benjamin answered.

Cam Newton probably doesn’t have to worry about losing his job anytime soon, but ahem, Mike Shula


6 comments
HoopDreams
HoopDreams

Black and Blue Review has been absolutely KILLING IT this offseason!  Can't wait for the in-season coverage.  You guys are doing a tremendous job, thanks for the info!

JonnyFieve
JonnyFieve

Thanks for clearing it up. I like hearing about this kind of stuff.

BlaqIce18
BlaqIce18

@BlackBlueReview Is there any way you can add the six pack selection menu to the bottom of each article? Just for ease of viewing on mobile

billvoth
billvoth moderator

@BlaqIce18 unfortunately only options it allows is top, left or right. need to tinker with those anyway, but thank you for the feedback. 

EdNailor
EdNailor

Or stack like you do with power rankings