Scouts Buzz: Smith's suspension could doom Panthers season
Can a team overcome a two-game suspension of its best player to make the playoffs? That's what
The fiery wideout was suspended for Carolina's season opener at San Diego and home opener against Chicago after fighting with teammate
"This is a tough situation due to a number of reasons," said an AFC personnel executive. "You have a coach who is reportedly on the hot seat, and the player in question is the best player on the team. If you come down on him too hard, you hinder your ability to win, and ultimately cost yourself your job."
But Fox had to discipline his star receiver or risk losing the respect of his other players. At the same time, he had to be careful not to completely ostracize Smith from the team. As Carolina's offensive captain in 2007, Smith had earned the respect of his teammates on the field, and the team had lauded him for his maturity prior to this recent incident.
It's worth noting Smith issued an apology to Lucas and his teammates at a team meeting, and that he vowed to earn back their respect and trust. Lucas took an unusually diplomatic approach to the incident, and called it a "blessing" that may bring the team closer this season.
Those initial steps will begin the healing process, but there is more work to do if the team is to move forward. Team leaders
With Smith sidelined at the start of this season, receivers
But if they're looking for motivation, the Dallas Cowboys overcame a two-game holdout by
• Amid the endless adulation heaped on rookie quarterback
"He has a way of making quarterbacks feel comfortable," said a Seahawks' official. "If a guy has any talent, he will find a way to bring it out."
Zorn, who earned a reputation for being one of the game's top teachers as a quarterback coach in Seattle, was instrumental in developing
Campbell, who enters his third season as the Redskins' starter, is the most talented quarterback that Zorn has tutored, and his ability to seamlessly transition into the Redskins' new offense should be attributed to his familiarity with the scheme from his senior season at Auburn. Offensive coordinator
However, after spending two seasons running Al Saunders' up-tempo offense, Campbell spent the offseason learning the nuances of Zorn's version of the West Coast offense. As a quick, rhythm passing game, the scheme features an assortment of three-and five-step drops, and demands that the quarterback deliver accurate throws on time. Thus, Zorn spent the offseason honing Campbell's mechanics by using a series of unorthodox drills designed to improve his footwork in the pocket. Campbell has responded well to Zorn's tutelage, and has emerged as a more confident quarterback as a result.
"He told me that I was still developing as a young quarterback," Campbell told the
After watching Campbell dazzle during his preseason debut, it appears that his newfound confidence and solid rapport with Zorn, will lead him to take his game to higher heights this season.
"He's clearly not the same player he was during his prime in Seattle," said an NFC scout. "Injuries robbed him of some of his explosiveness, and his questionable work habits prevented him from sustaining his high level of play the past few years."
However, Jackson's performance during training camp has earned rave reviews, and the veteran's familiarity with the Broncos' offensive system gives him a chance to become a key contributor this season. As a skillful route runner with outstanding quickness out of the break, Jackson has a knack for getting open despite lacking exceptional top end speed. While he will struggle against the top corners in the league, his uncanny ability to stop on a dime makes him a tough cover for second and third corners.
"He can still get in and out of his breaks," said an NFC scout. "He doesn't have the speed to run away from guys, but he still knows how to get open."
While most scouts view Jackson as a No. 3 receiver, he gets a brief audition at the beginning of the season to show the league he is still capable of being a featured guy. If he can do anything as the Broncos' go-to-guy, it will help coach