The criticism seemed warranted after Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon all left in free agency (or were cut by Carolina). Sure, the Panthers would have Cam Newton to throw the ball, but who would be there to catch it? Newton knows all about those questions.
“The elephant in the room has already been stated,” Newton said via the Charlotte Observer. “Those guys have already accepted the challenge. You don’t have to go in there and tell those guys, ‘Hey, you’re projected the sorriest receiver (group) in the NFL.’ We already know.”
Newton says the criticism will motivate the group.
“But with that, those guys already have that fire in their eyes. I would rather those guys be like that and for them to go out there and bust their tails like they’ve been doing. It’s kind of like a slap in–not only their face–but my face as well. The things that have been said, the reports, who cares? Because at the end of the day, we will be ready to play football, and Carolina Panthers football. Hard-nosed, and everybody’s going to have to do their job.”
The Panthers have attempted to rebuild the group. They drafted Kelvin Benjamin out of Florida State in the first round, and they signed Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood. It’s by no stretch an awesome group, but at least it might be passable now, especially depending on how Benjamin does. And at least they have Greg Olsen at tight end. Even though Newton says it’s an insult to him to criticize their wide receivers, I disagree. People recognize they don’t have a lot of talent and that has nothing to do with him. But we appreciate the leadership he’s showing through those comments.