Panthers Rookie Report: Armanti Edwards

Everyone deserves a second chance. In pro football, this rule is tried and true; a man who you said was the weak link yesterday can be your hero tomorrow. It all depends on what you've done lately. For Armati Edwards, "lately" had been working against him.

Armanti Edwards' performance on special teams against the New York Jets was essentially a disaster; he looked lost, confused and very much like a rookie.

While he was a star near the end of training camp, it seems the honeymoon is over between Panther fans and Edwards. Rightfully so -- fans are expecting a quick return on the investment the team made in the record-breaking college star when they traded a future second-round pick to move up and select him.

During the Jets game, though, he fell short. "Growing pains" and "learning a new position" were not good enough excuses for the thousands of unhappy fans in the stadium after his miscues and mishandled punts. However, he endured the criticism and hoped to redeem himself the following week against the Tennessee Titans.

Unfortunately, he never got that chance.

WR Brandon LaFell
Chuck Burton/AP
The Panthers used Trent Guy as the main return man and overall he finished with a satisfactory showing. Compared to last week, though, anyone who successfully made a fair catch or moved the ball up field would look like Deion Sanders.

Edwards stood on the sideline next to his former college teammate, Dexter Jackson, for most of the first half. His arms were folded, his face was emotionless and he hardly spoke a word. The body language was telling: he was disappointed and wanted to see action.

After a scoreless first half, the fans were getting anxious yet again. While he didn't get his shot returning punts, Edwards entered the game as a receiver. Early in the third quarter, the Panthers were faced with a third-and-8 and Matt Moore fired a pass to Edwards, complete for 7 yards and just short of the first down. The crowd was underwhelmed, naturally, until the announcer bellowed: "Pass completed to Armanti Edwards." A resurgence of cheers filled the stadium, as fans erupted for Edwards, even on a play that forced the punt team to return to the field.

At the end of the third quarter, Moore went to Edwards again for 6- and 5-yard completions, garnering the same crowd reaction and pleasing the many fans in attendance wearing his black and gold No. 14 jersey from college.

Throughout the second half, Edwards' body language changed. He paced up and down the sidelines more; he was active; and he was into the game. And most of all, the crowd was into him.

Rookie Rumblings

--Greg Hardy continues to stand above the rest of the rookie defenders. On Saturday night, he recorded three tackles for loss, including one sack, but anyone watching the game closely could see Hardy was in the backfield frequently and forced the Titans QBs to make bad decisions. His pressure on Kerry Collins is what caused an under-thrown pass to fall into the hands of Brian Witherspoon.

--Armanti Edwards wasn't the only rookie receiver on the highlight reel. David Gettis and Brandon LaFell made some key plays. LaFell had perhaps the best catch of the night as he laid out to keep control of a low Matt Moore pass.

--Josh Vaughan got plenty of chances to prove himself, too, but couldn't capitalize on the opportunity. He averaged just 1.4 yards on five attempts and a few of those came near the goal line. He did have an 8-yard reception from Jimmy Clausen that looked promising, but he still couldn't break the plane. With two star running backs and great play from Tyrell Sutton and Mike Goodson, the curtain may be closing on Vaughan.

--Clausen finished with an impressive 118.8 passer rating after hitting four of five passes for 79 yards, but he fell short in the red zone. Though he was flushed out of the pocket several times, Clausen is still looking for the coveted first TD pass to balance out the TD-to-INT ratio.

--Tony Pike saw no action but should be on display Thursday against Pittsburgh.

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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