Breakout Boys: David Gettis & Brandon LaFell

Following Sunday's win against the San Francisco 49ers, Panther Nation remains abuzz about the performance of the rookie receivers. But what does this one game indicate about these young players, and how do they turn this success into a trend?

Even the most casual fans have seen the numbers multiple times. Gettis had eight receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. LaFell finished with six receptions for 91 yards.

These numbers weren't padded with multiple short passes or meaningless plays when the game is out of hand. These receptions came in crucial moments in front of a sparse but spirited Bank of America Stadium and were vital in the Panthers grabbing their first win.

Not only did the play of Gettis and LaFell seal the victory on the field, it also helped Carolina fans step back from the ledge and realize this might not be the worst offense in NFL history. But the joy about these performances is fleeting, as these rookies must keep the momentum for the Panthers to have continued success.

Let's look at what they did right and how they can get better.

David Gettis

WR David Gettis
Streeter Lecka/Getty
Following the script for this season, the Panthers were forced to rely on the passing game to open up the offense. It worked, as Matt Moore connected with Gettis on the first touchdown of his NFL career late in the first half. Gettis showed his quickness and agility on this touchdown catch, as his "out-and-up" route made Nate Clements trip over himself, leaving Gettis open in the end zone.

Gettis runs a 4.43 40 and it showed as he was able to separate himself from the defense throughout the day. His speed was a major factor in his second touchdown catch, as well, as he ran a streak route to the end zone and got a step ahead of the Shawnte Spencer before pulling in the game-tying touchdown.

Gettis is fast and can turn on a dime. As long as Steve Smith draws extra defenders, Gettis should continue to perform well against single coverage.

Gettis' missed opportunity of the game, however, came on a fourth-and-9 in the fourth quarter. He was wide open in the end zone Moore threw him a catchable ball, but he couldn't haul it in. Moore's pass was thrown slightly behind Gettis and he had to adjust mid-air to make a play on the ball, but he still should have come down with the catch.

Luckily, Gettis redeemed himself in a major way with the final touchdown catch. But he needs to make those mid-air adjustments when necessary. Gettis also should continue to use his speed and the presence of Smith to exploit defenders.

Brandon LaFell

LaFell has been criticized by some thus far this season; he has dropped several passes, most of them easy ones, and before this week the bulk of his yards came on one catch.

LaFell did his best to silence critics against San Francisco. His six receptions were vital in the Panthers' win, and just like Gettis, his late-game heroics were most impressive. His 35-yard catch from Moore set up John Kasay's winning field goal.

LaFell had not been very reliable before this game, but his performance showed there is plenty to be excited about and to build on.

Of LaFell's 174 receiving yards on the season, 151 have come at home. At New Orleans, he was non-existent. Both he and Gettis must show up at St. Louis this Sunday if the Panthers want to continue their success.

The timing with the receivers that was missing with Jimmy Clausen seems to be there with Moore. Both receivers are only going to get better, and with a veteran receiver to ease the pressure, a talented running back corps and a serviceable quarterback, they should develop nicely this season and could be a cornerstone for future success.

Alex Montgomery is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a degree in Professional Writing. He has worked for the Western Carolinian and his hometown newspaper, the Kernersville News. He currently resides in Charlotte, NC. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.

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