Every team is a Super Bowl contender during training camp, at least that's what the local media in each NFL town seems to think. Puff pieces about teams/players/coaches often read something like, "[Player X] is poised to have a career year because he's getting over [ailment/personal tragedy/weight issues/immaturity]. He will have a key role in [Team Y] making [playoffs/Super Bowl] after last season's [surprise/disappointment]."
To celebrate the brimming positivity being felt by each of the NFL's 32 fanbases, this month Shutdown Corner will take a team-by-team look at the flowery and buoyant prose being written by local columnists and writers, and the hopeful quotes of players and coaches in our daily feature, Camp Sunshine. Today, the Carolina Panthers:
Sounds like somebody should get himself a newspaper subscription:
The haters don't bother him.
The so-called NFL experts don't bother him, either.
So what, there is only one returning starter on the defensive front.
"I don't know what they are saying now because I don't read the papers," he said. "They might say ‘we're the worst line in the league.' I would appreciate them saying that because I'm always out to prove somebody wrong, and I feel like this defensive line is doing the same thing. Let them talk bad, and we are working right now to prove them wrong and to prove us to be a great defense."
Do you think the AP has a template for these types of stories?
It was inevitable Dan Connor(notes) would play football. His father was a player and still coaches high school ball. Both of his older brothers played and now coach, and there is video floating around of Connor as a toddler dressed in full football gear showing off his three-point stance.
Connor starred in high school, set Penn State's career tackles record and seemed poised to be successful in the NFL, too, as a third-round pick.
After two rocky years of injuries and playing behind a two-time Pro Bowl pick, Connor is about to finally get his big chance as the Carolina Panthers' starting middle linebacker.
Welcome to the new Carolina Panthers, where bad is good and down is apparently up.
After Thursday's exhibition opener, the Panthers now have to be more satisfied with their pass rush than they could reasonably expect, but wondering what happened to a secondary and an offensive line that were supposed to be the team's strengths.
He's started eight games:
"Matt's been great. It's been so nice to be out there with somebody who's been around."