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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Special Teams Moves

Looks like Carolina has moved from line play to special teams.

Haruki Nakamura, safety for the Baltimore Ravens, signed a 3 year, $4.8 million deal, equally divided ($1.3 and $1.8 million base salaries in future years, $700,000 now and $1 million to sign) throughout the deal. Nakamura is an ace special teamer, who was having trouble getting playing time with the stacked Ravens. Granted, the Ravens are letting Tom Zbikowski go and weren't interested in promoting Nakamura, but the emphasis is nonetheless with Carolina to get him more time and to get Sherrod Martin a push (no reason to push Charles Godfrey, he's been paid too well to play as he is, but there's no turning back).

At the worst, Nakamura really steps up special teams coverage. He's probably not the starting level guy that you might want to see fighting for the job, but he's a guy who'll add toughness, will hit, will tackle, wrap up, and make it to his responsibility or die trying. He's going to add that attribute that's been missing in the secondary lately as well - a little attitude - which can't hurt either.

To that end, the team also signed LB Kenny Onatolu, a 6'2, 225 lb former Viking - Onatolu was picked up by current Panthers ST coach Brian Murphy in 09 from the CFL. Onatolu started out as a wedge buster, which in theory is no longer an ideal since they got rid of the wedge (teams like the Pats still seem to wedge, but it's not called and it's still usually only three men), but he's still an adept special teams player who excels at shedding blocks on coverage teams. It'll be give or take on whether or not he can play much linebacker, but it'll be nice just to have that special teams mercenary feel to a pickup.

Still time for more pickups, and they're certainly not done with special teams even if they make rumored specialist changes.
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