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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TE: A Factor Again?

Ron Rivera's press conference included the following words about the position:
“The tight end is by committee. There are three guys there I like and they each have a quality of their own. But if there is a guy out there whether through the draft or free agency or on our roster that can become that guy that does it all of the time we have to find him. I think that will help us as an offense.”

TE is one of a very small number of places that Carolina could actually get younger at; Dante Rosario and Jeff King are free agents, and it's the only position that doesn't have a rookie or second year player as of the end of 2010.

The tight end used to be storied for Carolina - its first regular season TD was scored by former Bills TE Pete Metzelaars, one of their first signings. Wesley Walls succeeded him in 1996, riding him to the NFC Championship game, and almost making the playoffs in the wildly successful offense of 1999 (Walls' 12 TDs tied a record at the time).

Carolina dropped Walls in the banner year of 2003 for slot WR Ricky Proehl; there was never really much reason as to why there wasn't room for both. When Carolina traded out OCs to get Jeff Davidson in, the committee approach came together, but still without one guy. The 2 TE run formations worked for the run, but playaction never went to the TE and it was never a good outlet option other than this year (where Rosario led the team in 3rd down targets and receptions most of the year).

It seems that the new offense will include more one-tight end sets, allowing more creativity with other positions. San Diego typically used one tight end, All-pro Antonio Gates, in their run-first offense.

As well, the team's leading option for OC, Rob Chudzinski, is a former TE and coaches tight ends. Current TEs coach Geep Chryst has a past with Rivera, as the team's Director of Research/Quality control, while Rivera was a player. Rivera would succeed Chryst in the role with the Bears under Dave Wannstedt.
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