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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Preseason Opener: What To Look For

Carolina opens its preseason tonight on the road after a strong camp, looking to put all the pieces together for the first time since last year, visiting an always tough and deep Giants team with strong ties to John Fox.

Nate Salley and Dwayne Jarrett didn't make the trip to NY, as well as a few other lesser known players. First round pick Jon Beason will probably play, but won't see much time after being in camp only a week so far.

This squad won't necessarily resemble an opening day roster, but this is as deep and talented a squad as the team has put together, and certainly one of the younger squads to have this talent. Still, there's plenty to see - the new running attack, a new offense overall, new faces on both sides, and the maturation of draft picks from the past few years. You'll see guys fighting for their starting roles, guys fighting to keep their paychecks, and guys playing knowing they have no chance but doing so for the love of the game.

More importantly, take a look at some of the specialist times - the return games, the nickel defense, the 3rd down offense. This will be where you'll see some changes that may resemble what September will bring.

Expect a lot of second half offense as the experienced 2nd string OL battles a fairly thin backing defensive front for NY, and Alex Haynes/Nick Goings/Eric Shelton each try to find a place in the new offense. Ryne Robinson looks to have a solid late evening making the most out of short passes, and new TE Dante Rosario will be tested as well. Watch and learn 2nd string QB David Carr, and see if Brett Basanez deserved the playing time he got last year.

And have fun. Football's back.

For reference, here are the jersey numbers of the key newcomers:
8 David Carr QB - 2nd string QB
10 Ryne Robinson WR/RS - top punt returner, second string WR, fourth round pick
27 CJ Wilson CB/FS - Current 2nd string FS, seventh round pick
35 Deke Cooper - likely starting tonight at FS
41 Curtis Deloatch CB - fighting for the 4th CB job with Derrick Strait
43 Chris Harris S - starting tonight at SS
49 Tim Shaw LB - Utility LB, sixth round pick
52 Jon Beason - possible starting WLB, first round pick
65 Ryan Kalil C - possible starting center, second round pick
80 Dwayne Jarrett WR - Fighting for the starting split end role, second round pick
88 Dante Rosario TE - fighting for TE duties, fifth round pick
91 Chad Lavalais DT - fighting for the 4th/5th DT spot
95 Charles Johnson DE - second string DE, third round pick
96 Dave Ball DE - Fighting for 4th DE/utility DL
98 Stephen Williams DT - fighting for the 4th/5th DT spot
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