The 2012 Carolina Panthers are going to have a real chance to compete in the NFC South if the defense can improve enough. Since the Cats pretty much allowed everyone except my Grandma to score on them in 2011, improvement is a certainty. Can they improve enough to get them near the top of the NFC South and into the playoffs, however? The linebackers collectively will play a huge part in answering these questions. Here is a fan's look at the linebackers that should play prominent roles for the Panthers:
Beason is returning from one of the most painful injuries a football player can experience. Achilles tendon injuries are notoriously tough to play through and finally forced the durable Beason to the sidelines for the first time in his Panther's career. He has done everything right in rehabbing this injury and looks fantastic thus far. Fans are praying that he is on the field when opening day comes calling. He is worth a couple of extra wins simply by being out there with the defense. He is that good.
Like most fans, I was a bit confused about Kuechly as our first pick on draft day. As a huge North Carolina Tar Heels fan, I was familiar with him. He was a tackling machine at Boston College University and we played them most every year. I knew he was an NFL ready type of player and we need those on defense in Carolina desperately. I seriously thought we would get a defensive lineman though. Over time, I have grown to understand the pick and even agree with it. Kuechly can be a game changer in year one, especially if he is alongside Jon Beason.
Davis is attempting to return from a third knee surgery on the same knee and few think he can do it. I am excited for the possibilities because we have the depth to keep him off the field some. Davis will have to be willing to accept that he can only play part time for a bit until his knee is clearly okay. In that time, however, he can be extremely disruptive. His motor should be ready to explode when he does get on the field.
Anderson is the guy in the background that keeps on playing while others drop around him. He always is near the top of the tackles line in the box scores and he is always around the football. James Anderson should be known as Mr. Dependable. He will get the job done.
Senn is one guy that simply chases the football down with passion. He is not nearly as physically gifted as some, but he has a motor that never quits. He is a monster around the football and will create turnovers. He is the ultimate depth guy for the Panthers and will create havoc on special teams as well.
Williams has been a beast on the field as well, but has the tendency to make the bonehead play on occasion as well. He is a guy that fans love to cheer for, however, as he lays heavy lumber on anyone in his path. Williams will have a chance to make an impact as well.
*Southern is a huge Carolina Panthers fan that is convinced that he will see a Super Bowl Trophy in Charlotte within five years.
More from this contributor:
- Why Joe Adams Will Be Successful for the Carolina Panthers Right Away: Fan's Opinion
- 2012 Carolina Panthers Schedule Features Tough Road Games: Fan's View
- 2012 Carolina Panthers Schedule Features Cam Newton in Prime Time: Fan's Reaction
- Three Reasons the Carolina Panthers Can Win the NFC South in 2012: Fan's Opinion
- Why Amini Silatolu was the Best Draft Pick for the Carolina Panthers: Fan Reaction