Panthers Rookie of the Year

No team in the NFL put more pressure on its rookies than the Carolina Panthers. Rookies were asked to step in and give hefty contributions in a tumultuous season. Some stepped up to the challenge, some faltered and most showed promise for the future.

All of Carolina's rookies had up-and-down seasons, but one was simply able to make more plays than the others: David Gettis.

Gettis came into training camp with nowhere near the buzz and hype that surrounded other draft picks such as Jimmy Clausen and Armanti Edwards. A sixth-rounder, Gettis was chosen 198th overall by the Panthers, so neither fans nor coaches could have predicted he would finish with more touchdowns and only about 50 fewer receiving yards than Steve Smith.

Gettis concluded the season with 37 receptions, 508 yards and three TDs. Those numbers won't tower over any stat sheet throughout the league, but then again, what Panther on the offensive side of the ball would?

Gettis stepped up against the adversity of a faltering offense, and while the growing pains were evident, he remained a solid target for any one of the four quarterbacks who threw passes this season.

WR David Gettis
Otto Greule Jr./Getty
The highlight of Gettis' season was most certainly the first of the two Panthers victories. The Oct. 24 meeting with the San Francisco 49ers served as the breakout game for both Gettis and his rookie partner, Brandon LaFell. However, Gettis' performance was the highlight of the day, as he accounted for 125 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His two scores came at crucial moments in the highly contested matchup.

Not only did his performance put the Panthers in the win column for the first time, he single-handedly gave Panthers fans hope for the future. With disappointing efforts from Clausen, Edwards and most other rookies, Gettis represented the young blood in Carolina and certainly exceeded his value as a sixth-round pick.

Gettis was unable to match those numbers again -- coming closest with a 92-yard, one-touchdown game against the Baltimore Ravens -- but he did have at least one reception in 13 of the 14 games in which he was active. He also scored on the Panthers' longest play from scrimmage, an 88-yard touchdown reception from Brian St. Pierre in the Baltimore game. Additionally, he had a hand in the second-longest play, as his blocking was a key element in LaFell's 60-yard run against the Atlanta Falcons this past week.

Gettis' low point was his game in St. Louis in Week 8, during which he finished with no receptions and minus-11 rush yards. In fact, both rookie receivers had trouble playing anywhere outside of Charlotte. Gettis' receptions and yardage at home (25, 375) far eclipsed his numbers on the road (12, 133) and he never found the end zone at an opponent's field.

Playing in hostile environments is the norm in the NFL, especially in the NFC South with bitter rivalries between the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Falcons. Gettis and the other rookies must develop the consistency that is so crucial to be successful in the NFL.

Still, Gettis had a remarkable year, considering he was playing on the worst offense in the league -- an offense ranked dead last in points scored, passing yards and total yards. He had to adjust to the rhythm of four different quarterbacks, three of whom had never started in an NFL game prior to the 2010 season.

Gettis was the only receiver to have a 100-plus yard receiving game and his three touchdowns tie him with Mike Goodson for the most on the team.

Gettis will have to adapt to a new offense next season, which will certainly be a much needed and welcome change. The front office is expected to pursue an offensive-minded coach, and if the new coach can find more ways to involve Gettis in the offense, 2011 will be a breakout year for Gettis.

Just how good can David Gettis really be? Talk about it in the message boards.

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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