Avant: Panthers don’t need big-name WRs to win

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Jason Avant knows the Panthers lack a high profile wide receiver.

But that doesn’t concern the eight-year NFL veteran wideout, who says there’s no reason Carolina can’t win a Super Bowl this year.

Avant said people spend too much time “worrying about names.”

He doesn’t.

Avant points out that last year’s Seattle Seahawks and the dominant New England Patriots from the early Tom Brady years as teams that won championships without recognizable wide receivers.

“Seattle didn’t have a whole bunch of receivers that everybody knew,” Avant said. “They had (Percy) Harvin who played basically one game (in the Super Bowl). You look at all of the Patriots teams and they basically had David Givens out there. They have guys out there that you most people don’t even remember their names.”

General manager Dave Gettleman is hoping to follow that blueprint.

Carolina parted ways with the team’s top four wide receivers from 2013, including star Steve Smith, the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions, yards receiving and touchdowns.

The Panthers replaced Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon with free agents Avant, Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood. They also drafted Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State in the first round to pair with young receivers like Brenton Bersin, Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt, who they’re hoping will take the next step and surprise during the preseason.

Still, the changes haven’t set all that well with a restless fan base that was hoping the Panthers would look to build on last year’s 12-4 season - not completely gut an entire position - and reach the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time ever.

Quarterback Cam Newton said last week he’s well aware of the criticism, saying the perception of Carolina’s wide receivers is they’re the “sorriest (group) in the NFL.”

Newton said he doesn’t buy that.

He said the receivers have approached the offseason with a “fire in their eyes” and with incentive to go out and prove everyone wrong.

“It’s kind of like a slap in not only their face, but my face as well,” Newton said.

Newton hasn’t had much experience working with his new batch of wide receivers. He hasn’t practiced since undergoing ankle surgery in March.

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