NFC South Podcast: Episode 1 The Shortest Review

The Carolina Panthers were abysmal last season. Not only in the NFC South, but against every team in the NFL. The Super Bowl was a year ago. Now, it’s time to get back to football. One adjustment the team is making will be changing Cam Newton’s playstyle. No more big hits and quarterback runs. Those types of quarterbacks just aren’t sustainable in the NFL. The good part is Cam has some of the best targets in the NFC South. Kelvin Benjamin is back in the lineup and they drafted all-purpose all star Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers won their preseason game against the Houston Texans 27-17. Hopefully, next week can see more.

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Cam Newton Won’t Play in Panthers Preseason Opener

The Panthers will begin their preseason on Wednesday without Cam Newton, Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports.

Coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that Newton will not play in the preseason opener versus the Houston Texans, which will air at 7:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

The news comes as no surprise with Newton sitting out team sessions since the opening week of training camp after undergoing shoulder surgery this offseason.

After doing some light tossing with the trainer on Monday, Newton again threw on the side on Tuesday, but ramped up the velocity slightly.

Panthers DT Star Lotulelei Not Worried About Contract Status

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Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is handling his contract situation the way you would expect; staying relaxed, not saying too much about it, content to let things play out, Max Henson of Panthers.com reports.

“I try to not think about it too much,” Lotulelei said. “At the end of the day, that is a part of what we do – the business side of things – but I’m not really thinking about it too much. It’s so early in the season. Right now I’m just trying to focus on getting better, improving and helping this defense get to where we need to be, get us to our goals this season.”

Lotulelei’s rookie contract is set to expire at the end of the season. The former 14th overall pick is playing the year on the fifth-year option teams can exercise with first-rounders. His hope is to remain in Carolina beyond 2017.

“Of course. I love it here,” Lotulelei said. “I’ve made some friends here. The locker room is great. I love playing with this defense. The D-line room is great, the coaches are great. I’d love to come back, but at the end of the day it’s a business, and whatever happens is what’s going to happen.”

“Money is a big part of what we do, but at the same time you’ve got to go out there and earn it. Just trying to improve every day,” Lotulelei said.

“KK fills up the stat sheets, makes a lot of great plays. I just try to play my role on this defense and help us be the best I can be. Whatever our defense needs – whatever they need me to do – I can go out there and do anything they ask of me. If they want me to go out there and rush the passer or collapse the pocket or collapse the run – whatever they need, that’s what I’ll do.”

Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart Has High Praise for Fellow RB Christian McCaffrey

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Christian McCaffrey has received a lot of praise since the Panthers selected him with the eighth pick of the NFL draft, but none higher than he got Sunday from his backfield mate, David Newton of ESPN.com reports.

“He’s pretty unstoppable as far as coming out of the backfield and running routes,” Pro Bowl running back Jonathan Stewart said. “I can tell you now there’s not going to be anybody in this league that can cover him one-on-one.

“He’s a special player.”

The Panthers took McCaffrey in the first round because of his versatility as a running back and receiver. He has shown throughout the first week of training camp few can stay with him in open space.

He already has gotten the best of Pro Bowl linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis with open-field moves. Kuechly said the former Stanford star has “shakes.”

“He’s very precise with his movements,” Kuechly said. “He’s in and out of breaks quick. I think he’s going to be somebody that helps us out.”

Stewart typically is soft-spoken and reserved with his comments. But he couldn’t say enough good things about the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up, who broke Barry Sanders’ NCAA record for all-purpose yards in a season.

Stewart said it starts with McCaffrey’s preparation.

“His preparation is like a vet, which it should be,” Stewart said. “Like rookies learn when they get into the league every year, there’s no such thing as being a rookie.

Panthers LB Thomas Davis Not Happy About Being Linked to GM Dave Gettleman’s Firing

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Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis is “extremely irked” about reports that general manager Dave Gettleman’s firing was linked to negotiations for extensions for him and tight end Greg Olsen, David Newton of ESPN.com reports.

Davis, 34, began negotiating an extension before Gettleman was fired on July 17, eight days before players reported to training camp at Wofford College.

He said negotiations are ongoing with interim general manager Marty Hurney, who was the general manager with Carolina from 2002 through the sixth game of the 2012 season.

Davis said at no point were negotiations with Gettleman combative. Gettleman had a reputation for talks with some veteran players getting difficult in the past.

The most recent was last year when Gettleman rescinded the franchise tag of Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman, whose departure to Washington played a role in last year’s 6-10 season.

“To his credit, he told me to my face that he didn’t see a decline in my play,” Davis said on Wednesday. “He [said] he had never seen anything like it before for a guy my age.

“I guess it sort of put him in a tough position making a decision moving forward, but there was never a time where he said something negative to me about me as a player or me as a person.”

Multiple sources told ESPN.com that Gettleman’s handling of contracts in the past played a part in the decision to fire him, with Davis’ and Olsen’s extensions being discussed.

But Davis isn’t excited that some of the blame for Gettleman’s firing has been placed on him and Olsen, both team captains.

“Some of the stuff being said, it’s unbelievable to think of two guys that was being talked about,” said Davis, the 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. “You think about myself and you think about Greg Olsen and what we try to represent and stand for, not only as players but as pillars of the community as leaders of this football team, it was totally unfair and uncalled for some of the stuff that was being said.”

Panthers Announce They Have Waived DE Ryan Delaire and WR Charles Johnson

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Defensive end Ryan Delaire has been waived with a failed physical designation, and wide receiver Charles Johnson has been waived/injured after undergoing surgery on his right knee, Max Henson of Panthers.com reports.

Delaire played in six games last season, recording five tackles and one sack. He had two separate stints on injured reserve as a result of knee injuries.

Johnson, who was previously with the Vikings but signed as a free agent in March, did not participate in any spring practices. If unclaimed, Johnson will revert to IR.

The Panthers also made an addition, signing center Greg Van Roten, who has previously been with the Packers and Seahawks in addition to Toronto in the Canadian Football League. Van Roten was most recently with the Jaguars before being released in May.

Panthers Fire Longtime Personnel Man Mark Koncz

The Panthers have fired longtime personnel man Mark Koncz in yet another front office shakeup, the Associated Press reports.

The decision came Monday, on the eve of players reporting to training camp.

Koncz, 50, had been promoted earlier this offseason by former general manager Dave Gettleman to director of player personnel after serving the previous 17 years as pro scouting director. However, new interim general manager Marty Hurney made the decision to fire Koncz.

Hurney said he has the utmost respect for Koncz, but the decision was based on “structure” and “the lines of communication.”

Panthers TE Greg Olsen Reports; Says It Would Have Been Selfish to Hold Out

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The big early storyline regarding Panthers training camp is that of the status of tight end Greg Olsen, who has out performed his contract and would like a new deal.

The tight end, who has been a staple of the teams’ offense the past few years, is NOT going to hold out, and instead on Tuesday like his teammates reported to Panthers camp at Wofford University.

Olsen said he felt it would have been ‘selfish’ to hold out, and instead hopes that the two sides can still get a deal done before the start of 2017.

Olsen became the first tight end in league history with three straight seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards. Last year he pulled in 80 passes for 1,073 yards.

Right now he’s due base salaries of $6.5 million in each of the next two seasons.

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