- BUT IS HE ELITE?
- STILL NO STEWART SCHEDULE
- KUECHLY'S COLLISION
- THE OTHER TALL ROOKIE WR
- BROWN'S BIG DAY
- CAVEMAN CENTER
Those four have Super Bowl rings. They’ve combined for 40 playoff wins. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is 0-for-1.
Of course, the 25-year-old has plenty of time to start building up his postseason win column, but as Newton heads into his fourth season, expectations are advancing.
“Every year he has taken those strides, big strides. This is the year I think that now, let’s prove it. You’ve got to go out and prove ‘I’m one of these guys, I fit into that group of elite quarterbacks,’” head coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday.
Earning just one postseason win won’t necessarily catapult Newton into the elite echelon, but it is the next step in his journey from star to potential superstar. And while that may sound like an individual achievement, in the NFL, only a quarterback can help make a good team elite.
“Last year, he took us to the playoffs,” Rivera said. “You’ve got to be able to win in the playoffs and take steps and strides as a team, as an organization.”
Stewart ran a few times the last few days — a key step in the rehab process — but the running back continues to watch practice. There’s no clear timetable for his return, but Rivera remains hopeful Stewart will be able to play sometime this preseason.
“Ideally, we’d love to be able to put him in a game and see where he is,” Rivera said. “The one thing you don’t want to do at the running back position is put a guy that hasn’t gotten any real live stuff out there (in the regular season).”
Stewart began last year on the PUP list, and in his five seasons before that, he played in just nine preseason games.
When asked about playing the Bills in the preseason opener, Kuechly claimed he hadn’t made a tackle since January’s playoff loss to the 49ers. But if what he did Saturday to fullback Mike Tolbert wasn’t a tackle, what was it?
“A collision,” a smiling Kuechly replied.
Gettleman could probably repeat something similar about a guy who’s 6-4, 220, like Marcus Lucas, but the Missouri product is the much lesser-known tall rookie receiver on the roster.
“(Kelvin’s) a big dude, but I’m not too far away from him,” Lucas said Wednesday.
If Lucas has the dimensions NFL staffs are currently craving, how did he go undrafted? He doesn’t know. But after a handful of teams gave him a draftable grade, he eagerly anticipated a phone call that never came.
Most scouts labeled Lucas a possession receiver with little big-play ability. But he claims that’s wrong, and his senior year stats were skewed by playing in the slot.
“I wasn’t a guy on the outside running streaks every play like L’Damian (Washington) and Dorial (Green-Beckham),” Lucas said. “I was doing the dirty work on the inside.”
Despite his confidence, Lucas didn’t look much more than an undrafted rookie during OTAs and minicamp. Then training camp started.
“He was ok, and all of a sudden we put the pads on, and he started to show up,” Ron Rivera said. “You put the pads on; some guys disappear. You put the pads on; some guys show up. He’s been one of the guys who have shown up.”
During the first few days in Spartanburg, whenever No. 83 would make a catch, a common reaction was, “who’s that?”
Now, nearly two weeks into camp, No. 83 is still making to make plays, and his name has become more well-known.
He’s not a Spartanburg star like Benjamin, but Lucas has given himself a shot. He’s still on the outside looking in at a spot on the 53-man roster, but a handful of catches during the preseason could help his stock rise further.
Lucas expected to be drafted, but he wasn’t. Instead, he ended up in the softest landing spot for a receiver this offseason.
“Coming into an organization where some of their receivers were let go, and having the opportunity to display what I can do, versus sitting behind guys that have locked in positions. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation,” Lucas said.
Ron Rivera admitted the Ohio State product has had “hot and cold” days, but this one was a scorcher. Brown’s handful of receptions included a deep pass against safety Robert Lester and a ball he held onto near the sideline despite going up and over safety Tom Nelson.
Heading into the preseason opener, Brown is firmly on the roster bubble, but he’s made a good argument to at least have a spot on the practice squad.
When the center came to Carolina last year, his teammates started calling him ‘Caveman Center.’ It stuck, as a story recently shared by Ron Rivera revealed.
“A couple of guys went to an event last year, and they didn’t know his real name,” Rivera said. “He introduced himself to their wives as Caveman Center. That’s a true story.'”
So why ‘caveman’? Here you go: