After game 3 is where you have some idea where you're at. It's also
the game that represents time to start cutting, and right about now is
generally when a couple guys who you thought were going to make the team
So with that said, here are the semi-obvious winners and losers in
Carolina this morning.
*Star Lotulelei - showed what you would expect. A great first step,
and some plays made. He's starting to beat blocks more consistently.
Outside of one double-team I believe I saw him being pushed back on, the
days of the Carolina middle sagging are over. Which leads to -
*Luke Kuechly - you'd figure that a player who was Rookie of the Year
and led the league in tackles would be leveling out. You'd figure
wrong. Luke's 2nd quarter might be some of the best linebacking I've
ever seen in my life. Just when you expected the lore and hype on
Kuechly to have hit critical mass, it looks like somehow he's been
underestimated. It's unrealistic to expect that to be the norm, but
that was lights out playing. Having Star in front of him isn't hurting
him, at the least.
*DJ Moore and Drayton Florence - pick sixes keep you in the
conversation. Neither had been impressive, and Moore was playing behind
*Jon Beason - participant trophy, but he was out there and did some
good things. Nice to have him back, even if he's suddenly a rental.
*Mike Mitchell - having earned the SS job, he got benched after a
personal foul- late hit and was supplanted by Haruki Nakamura. You can
assume that is a legitimate benching, since he re-entered the game late
with backups. Mitchell is an adequate starter on a team that needs at
least that, but it's not enough to put up with giving up 15 yards a game
*David Gettis - lost some momentum with the drop. A winner the last
couple of weeks, had I bothered to chart it.
*Kealoha Pilares - not sure what the injury is yet, but while his knee
might get him back in next year, it's too late to earn a roster spot.
*DJ Campbell - had a couple coverage gaffes at just the wrong time.
Carolina might or might not keep more than 4 safeties and he appears to
be #5. His best shot might be whether Mitchell does anything else
*Armond Smith - adequate returner on a team with better options;
adequate back on a loaded team. But he was playing well on coverage
teams, and that's employable. That's why kicking a Raven in the groin
on national TV is helping Smith live up to his nickname of DJFoodStamps.