Johnson is the perfect addition to this offense--if he remembers why he's
there. He'd better be happy with being the clear-out guy for Steve Smith.
Gamble is the league's most underrated corner. He's not afraid of anything, and
at 6'1" he's got the size to be physical with big receivers.
> Big upgrade
at center, and Carolina needed it. Jeff Mitchell got pushed around last year,
so the arrival of Justin Hartwig, a 310-pound drive-blocker from the Titans, is
good for the running game.
> There'll be
no excuses from defensive end Julius Peppers this year, not with Maake
Kemoeatu, the free agent from Baltimore, next to him. Peppers is so gifted an
athlete that it's an upset when he doesn't lead the league in sacks--but he
hasn't done it yet.
John Kasay is over the hill. You can't rely on him to make a long field goal.
I'm surprised they didn't replace him.
Carolina knew a
year in advance that it would not match a big free-agent offer to Will
Witherspoon whenever it came in early 2006--indeed, he went to the Rams for a
$33 million deal. So the Panthers drafted Davis out of Georgia in April '05 to
eventually succeed him. Now, after shuttling between strong safety and
linebacker as a rookie, Davis will play over the tight end and try to surpass
Witherspoon's 81 tackles from last year.
WITH 2005 STATISTICS
JOHN FOX (36--28 in NFL), fifth season with Carolina