Thread: Panthers hobbled and humbled
09-14-2006, 06:39 AM #1
Panthers hobbled and humbled
Posted on Thu, Sep. 14, 2006
[size=13pt]Panthers hobbled and humbled[/size]
Injuries threaten to derail Carolina's season
BY MARCUS R. FULLER
Keyshawn Johnson didn't read into the preseason talk about him being the missing piece for the Carolina Panthers' possible return to the Super Bowl.
Johnson has seen the hype machine turn on him before. He's tired of being jerked around.
"One week you're the third-best receiver on your team or you shouldn't be on the team, and the next you're going to put the team over the top," said the wide receiver, who signed with the Panthers after playing the previous two seasons for the Dallas Cowboys. "People don't know what they're talking about."
He might be right.
The popular prediction of Johnson being the missing link and the Panthers being a favorite to win the Super Bowl doesn't look as smart after a season-opening 20-6 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.
With key injuries to offensive tackle Travelle Wharton (knee), linebacker Dan Morgan (concussion) and wide receiver Steve Smith (hamstring), it might not be getting any better for the Panthers, who face the Vikings on Sunday at the Metrodome.
Vikings coach Brad Childress doesn't believe people should write Carolina off.
"I think probably the way that Carolina played was an aberration," Childress said. "I'm familiar with that coaching staff with John Fox. That's a top two or three defense in the NFL. Knowing those guys, they're prideful guys. I expect a great shot from them coming in here."
The Panthers on Sunday appeared to have a lot less punch than they did in 2005. Playing without all-pro receiver Steve Smith, who missed the game because of a hamstring injury, Carolina's once-feared passing game had no major impact.
Johnson had four receptions for 40 yards. Jake Delhomme finished with a passer rating of 56.1 while failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 10 games.
Smith's return will be critical to Delhomme's effectiveness. In the meantime, Johnson said the chemistry with his new quarterback is coming along slowly.
"Jake's a competitor, and I'm sure he's learning me as a wide receiver," Johnson said. "If we can continue to just keep working on that, I think we'll eventually get on the same page."
The offensive line struggled to replace Wharton, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Panthers gave up four sacks.
The biggest disappointment, however, was the dismal performance of a once-dominant defense. With Morgan, Carolina ranked fourth in the NFL in stopping the run last season. But without Morgan, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, for most of Sunday's game, the Panthers gave up 252 yards rushing, including 132 yards from Warrick Dunn. It was the most rushing yards given up by a defense in the NFL's opening week and the second-most rushing yards allowed in the Panthers' 12-year history.
Fox doesn't believe the injuries and his defense's lapse are cause for alarm.
"They were definitely things that are correctable," Fox said. "Any time you have injuries during the game, it's a little bit more of a scramble than when you have a whole week to prepare. We're hoping to get some guys back that couldn't play last week."
Fox wouldn't say whether Smith, who is listed as questionable against the Vikings, would play this weekend. He didn't practice Wednesday, but Johnson said he looked good.
"I think he's doing well," he said. "I've only seen him briefly this morning."
Carolina isn't likely to turn things around without Smith. The team went 7-9 when Smith missed all but one game in the 2004 season with a broken left fibula. Carolina went 11-5 when Smith played every game last season while leading the NFL with 1,563 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said the defense is preparing as if Smith will play. It can't afford not to after the way he lit up the secondary with 11 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown in a 38-13 Panthers victory last year.
"They have a lot of weapons out there with Smith, Keyshawn and DeShaun Foster," he said. "They are going to be hungry, especially with what Atlanta did to them in the first game. Nobody wants to start the season out 0-2."
Especially not a projected Super Bowl contender.
"If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"
09-14-2006, 07:07 PM #2
Re: Panthers hobbled and humbled
i aint scurred of them!
then again, i just sit and watch =) injuries are always an unfortunate thing.....
for the team that has them!
so im not complaining about anything
"Weâ€™ll win our own Super Bowl, with our own players. Real Vikings. Something Brett Favre can never be."
- Dan Calabrese
09-14-2006, 07:09 PM #3
Re: Panthers hobbled and humbled
Its the home opener for the Vikes they will want this game ;D
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