Thursday night was put-up or shut-up time for all of Carolina's fringe players.
David Gettis did just enough to get the job done. He was the team's leading receiver in Pittsburgh. He had two receptions -- one coming from Armanti Edwards during the new "Mountaineer" formation -- and totaled 15 receiving yards.
The concern about Gettis revolves around his hands. While he had two receptions, he was thrown to five times. One key drop came on the first play of the fourth quarter on a third-and-3 from the Pittsburgh 33-yard line.
Edwards took the snap from the shotgun and fired a good-looking pass to Gettis that would have given the Panthers a first down. Gettis dropped the ball, though, and the Panthers had to settle for a field goal.
Aside from Edwards in the new formation, the most intriguing use of a rookie on Thursday was Gettis' work on kickoff returns. This is where Gettis really turned some heads -- he had four kickoff returns and totaled 99 yards (24.8 avg.)
Gettis' instinct on the kickoff return was to move upfield as quickly as possible and make it through the first wave of defenders. Fans have been buzzing about other players doing too much "dancing" on returns instead of just picking up solid yardage. Gettis provided relief to such fans and looked very comfortable in his new role.
--Greg Hardy wasted no time making his presence felt. He pulled down the 240-pound Ben Roethlisberger on the first play from scrimmage, bringing his preseason sack total to four.
--Tony Pike took over for Hunter Cantwell to start the second half. He had mediocre numbers, going 10-of-18 for 44 yards and a 60.9 rating, but the most noticeable part of Pike's game was his mobility. His two rushing attempts for 9 yards won't score any fantasy points, but he showed great agility in evading defenders.
--An exciting part of the game was the implementation of the Mountaineer package. Fans got a taste of what could turn into a major headache to opposing teams with the triple-threat offensive package. Edwards kept the ball twice, yet totaled minus-4 yards; he also passed twice and completed once to Gettis for 6 yards. Edwards also revisited a sore subject -- punt returns. He cleanly fielded his one attempt and moved up the field nicely for 17 yards.
--Robert McClain and R.J. Stanford battled for a roster spot that eventually went to McClain. Stanford finished his final audition with four tackles and a forced fumble, but his lapse on coverage and the ensuing tackle resulted in a Steelers touchdown.
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.
Rookie Report: David Gettis
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