Through two games, it appears four-time Pro Bowl pick Steve Smith is again Carolina’s lone threat.
There are numerous ugly offensive numbers that helped get Matt Moore benched after two games. The Panthers have two scored touchdowns and committed eight turnovers. They’ve allowed eight sacks and the dominant rushing attack from a year ago has stalled.
But the lack of production at receiver is glaring outside of Smith, who has eight catches for 141 yards and two scores despite facing nearly constant double teams.
The Panthers‘ offseason youth movement cost Muhsin Muhammad his job and precluded Carolina from going after veteran receivers such as Brandon Marshall, Anquan Boldin or T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The youthful unknown replacements have been nearly non-factors so far _ and the New York Giants and Tampa Bay have acted accordingly by stacking the box to stop the run and putting bracket coverage on Smith.
“We’ve got a very young group there,” coach John Fox said of his receivers.
The Panthers‘ second-leading receiver is running back Mike Goodson with five catches for 64 yards. Then comes tight end Dante Rosario with five receptions for 61 yards and running back DeAngelo Williams, who has caught three balls for 20 yards.
Finally, on the list a receiver shows up fifth. Dwayne Jarrett, beaten out by two rookies for starting assignments in the first two games, has two catches for 40 yards.
Jarrett, one of Carolina’s most disappointing players since being taken in the second round in 2007, didn’t have a pass thrown his way in Carolina’s 20-7 loss to the Buccaneers.
“I had a good talk with coach Fox. It’s not a trust factor,” Jarrett said. “I guess they’re trying out new things. They want to see some of the new guys and find out the right rotation. Hopefully, this week I can be in the starting lineup.”
He might just by process of elimination. Rookie Brandon LaFell, who started the opener and sat out last week with a sore hamstring, has two catches for 22 yards. He returned to practice on Thursday, but said he wasn’t sure if he’ll play Sunday.
Rookie David Gettis, who started last week, had just two catches for 18 yards and is still raw after playing in a run-oriented offense at Baylor.
Rookie Armanti Edwards, a converted college quarterback from Appalachian State, has been on the inactive list for the first two games as he learns a new position.
“It’s kind of a given that I just need to improve on being a receiver,” Edwards said.