Scouting the Panthers: Packers' Impressions

We've got the scoop on several of Carolina's top players, straight from the Packers' locker room. Leading off, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt breaks down Steve Smith and Dom Capers talks about the challenge of facing Cam Newton.

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt on WR Steve Smith, the 5-foot-9, 11-year pro who caught eight passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns last week.

He's one of the best receivers in the league. He just hasn't had a guy to get him the ball. If he had a guy getting him the ball, you've got to put him up there with Andre Johnson and those type of receivers. I went against him when we were in Atlanta. He's a little big guy. You can say he's 5-9 but you better tackle him like he's 210 pounds because he plays with so much physicality. He has great, great body control. There might not be another receiver who can control his body in the air and catch and track the ball at the same time as Steve Smith. Once he catches it, you better be able to tackle him. He does all those things at a very high level and he's an impressive guy to watch. If you don't have your mind right when you go play him, you're going to have a long, long day in front of you.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers on QB Cam Newton, who obliterated the Week 1 rookie record with 422 passing yards against Arizona.

The thing that's impressive about him is the Cardinals came after him. They pressured him, and they got pressure in his face, and he's a big strong guy that really doesn't have to step into his throws. I saw him make some throws where he had people right in his face and he really couldn't step into the throw but he still had enough arm strength to make the throw and get the first down. And obviously his movement ability, that's something you've got to deal with. They didn't hesitate when they got down there on the 2-yard line to run him back to back on the goal line plays. Kinda reminds me of when he was at Auburn. They still have some of the elements of some of things he was doing at Auburn, running the zone read play where he can keep the ball coming out.

OLB Clay Matthews on tackling Newton, who rushed for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns last season at Auburn

I'm sure he fits in the same mold as (Ben) Roethlisberger, big guys out there who are tough to bring down. But really just wrap up, bring him down, do your best. There's no such thing as a bad tackle or sack when you're back there trying to bring him down. He was elusive in this past game he played, broke some tackles. In those preseason games he was able to make some plays on his feet. Definitely an athlete when he has the ball, more so than just a quarterback.

OLB Erik Walden on LT Jordan Gross, a ninth-year player and two-time Pro Bowler.

He seems to be athletic. He wheels a lot of guys around the quarterback. He's very athletic, competitive. It's another opportunity to compete and that's my mind-set.

RT Bryan Bulaga on DE Charles Johnson, who had 11.5 sacks last season — earning him a six-year, $76 million contract after the lockout. He had one sack last week, as did fellow end Greg Hardy.

He uses his hands well. He's a good player. Everybody knows the contract he got, but if you watch him on tape, he deserves it. He's a good player. They rotate their ends a little bit; he'll go over to the left side sometimes and bring Hardy over.

WR Jordy Nelson on CB Chris Gamble, an eighth-year player with 24 career interceptions.

He's a good, solid player. Last week, they matched him up and had him follow (Larry) Fitzgerald around. He's a very solid player, can make plays. I wouldn't say he's real physical and he's not blazing fast but he makes up for it with technique and smarts. He's been around awhile. He's not somebody you're going to see on film and say, ‘Geez, you can't behind him.'

ILB Desmond Bishop on RBs DeAngelo Williams (5-9, 217) and Jonathan Stewart (5-10, 235), who in 2009 became the first tandem in NFL history to each top 1,100 rushing yards.

They're a little different. (Williams) is a little more slashier and the other one is more power. It's the definition of speed and power. Whenever you've got good backs like that, you've got to be aware. It comes down to fundamentals — keeping your eyes up when you tackle, bringing up your arms, keep moving your feet. It's back to the fundamentals.

Bishop on TEs Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen, who combined for seven catches last week.

They're like regular wide receivers. Both run their routes, got good ball skills, are tall guys. We'll definitely have our hands full. I like covering tight ends so it's going to be a challenge but I embrace it.

Coach Mike McCarthy on Shockey, Olsen and the Panthers' offense

I think their offensive personnel is very balanced. If you look at their run game, they have two very good runners. Really the veteran experience they have at the tight end position along with Steve Smith and we were impressed with their line play last week. It's a very balanced offense, the ability to run the ball, the play-action pass, the QB movements, the fakes will really challenge us in normal down and distance. And it's imprortant for us to always win third downs, so we feel from a personnel standpoint they are very, very balanced. Shockey and Olson are a big part of that.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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