The Answer Man

The Panthers entered the NFL draft needing a No. 2 receiver to complement Steve Smith. They hope they've found an answer in third-round draft pick Brandon LaFell from LSU.

LaFell will battle fellow third-round pick Armanti Edwards, a converted college quarterback, and disappointing fourth-year pro Dwayne Jarrett for the vacant No. 2 receiver spot that came available when the team opted not to re-sign 37-year-old veteran Muhsin Muhammad.

LaFell is coming off two solid seasons at LSU but will need to work on his consistency at the next level.

"I followed LSU quite a bit because I'm an alum of LSU so I know their situation over there," said Panthers receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. "Brandon can work on a lot of things, but a lot of things weren't his fault either. There are some inconsistencies as far what he was being taught at LSU as opposed to what I'm going to teach him here with the Carolina Panthers. I think he will adapt well to how we do things and I think he will be a better player because of it."

Tolbert said part of LaFell's problem was related to inconsistency at the quarterback situation.

Over the past two years the Tigers started six different quarterbacks.

"There's no question it did (affect him)," Tolbert said.

"It was a tough. One week you're working with this guy and then he was playing bad and you're working with another guy," LaFell said. "It was tough, but at the end of the day it kind of helps you out. In the NFL, you never know what can happen. The same thing that happened in college can happen in the NFL."

The Panthers really like LaFell's ability to block downfield, something that's required given how much coach John Fox likes to run the ball with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

It was an area Muhammad excelled at. After being drafted by Carolina, LaFell talked about it being a strength.

"It's rare to hear (wide receivers) talk about it," Tolbert said. "There's a lot of people that do it but it's rare people talk about it. On this level you have to block. We have two great backs -- actually we have more than two great backs -- but we had two backs last year that rushed for over 1,100 yards so they know running is a big part of our game. They know already that run-blocking technique is emphasized every day.

"But to hear him talk about it, it doesn't surprise me because I watched him at LSU go in and crack on safeties. That's one of the things that was a plus in our mind when we drafted him."


--WR Dwayne Jarrett's three-year career in Carolina has largely been a disappointment, but new wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said the former second-round pick out of Southern Cal will get another chance.

"I told him when I got here, listen, your slate is clean with me," Tolbert said. "What you are going to be looked upon in my eyes is henceforth. He's done everything I asked him to do. He works out hard every day and has lost a lot of weight since last year.

"He's doing all the right things and he's not the only one who's been inconsistent. There are a lot of inconsistencies with a lot of people. He has to worry about doing all of the little things, having a sense of urgency about himself. He made a great catch (in minicamp) I got excited about. He's going to be OK, I think."

--Receivers coach Tyke Tolbert has coached two pretty good rookie receivers in the past -- Anquan Boldin in Arizona and Lee Evans in Buffalo.

He'll now be asked to do the same with Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards.

"I've had some good rookie receivers but those guys came in and were eager to learn," Tolbert said. "But I teach (veterans and rookies) the same way. They all kind of adapt. I think my way works and it was proven that it works so I just keep doing it that way."

--Former University of Cincinnati star quarterback and current Panther Tony Pike threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Monday night's Major League baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

Pike and the rest of his new Panthers teammates will take the field next week for the start of OTAs here in Charlotte.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Yeah, he's a great kid. He's worked very hard rehabbing this offseason. It's unfortunate he was injured last year because I thought he was having his best season. But he's battled back real hard and we'll lean on him for leadership as well as his playing ability." -- Panthers coach John Fox on the return of WLB Thomas Davis, who tore his ACL last season.

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