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Patriots to sign Brandon LaFell, leave Panthers with like no wide receivers

Brandon LaFell PanthersThe New England Patriots keep working to maintain a balanced team despite the difficulties of free agency, and they did so by reaching agreement with Brandon LaFell on a three-year deal Saturday.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported news of the agreement. The move was reported hours after the Denver Broncos reportedly reached agreement with Emmanuel Sanders on a contract.

It’s a good move for the Patriots and will give them another option on the outside.

The other big part of this signing is what it does to Carolina. The Panthers already cut and lost Steve Smith. Ted Ginn Jr. left Carolina for the Arizona Cardinals. And now LaFell is signing with New England. The Panthers have Marvin McNutt as one of their lone receivers left, and all three of their top receiving guys from last year are gone (not counting tight end Greg Olsen).

Think we know what they’ll be targeting in the draft?

Cam Newton wants to become Panthers captain, Ryan Kalil says ‘it’ll be a while’

Cam-Newton-touchdownCam Newton is entering his third season as the starting quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, and he has yet to be elected a team captain. While Newton is still only 24 years old, age has very little to do with the fact that his coaches and peers have decided to hold off on giving him that honor.

“I recognize – and everyone knows around the league – when you’re a team captain that’s not just a patch on the jersey,” Newton told reporters Wednesday, via the Charlotte Observer. “You’re holding yourself to a higher standard with being accountable,” Newton said. “I’m going about it each and every day and trying to make that happen.”

For the past several seasons, receiver Steve Smith and tackle Jordan Gross have been named the team’s offensive captains. Smith and Gross have been with the Panthers longer than anyone else on the roster, so seniority certainly plays a factor. According to center Ryan Kalil, it could be a while before Newton has a “C” on his jersey.

“You’ve got to look at the team as a whole,” Kalil said. “I just think there’s guys who have been with the organization a lot longer that have been in that role for a long time. So it’s hard. There’s only two of them. I would say there’s a couple other guys that would be in that mix.

“But it’ll be a while before it transitions to somebody else.”

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were both named captains of their teams last season as rookies. Does that mean there are no veterans playing for the Redskins and Colts that have put in more time with the team than RG3 and Luck? We all know the answer to that.

In reality, Newton has had too many moments during his professional career where he has shown he is not yet ready to be a leader. Whether it be reportedly holding up the team bus by sulking or questioning his coaches during a postgame interview, Newton has allowed too much negative attention to follow him. He’ll never put a stop to that because of his position and background, but he can certainly do a better job of helping himself. When he starts doing that, then his teammates might considering giving him the “C.”

Panthers say Matt Ryan ‘totally disrespected’ them in first meeting

The Carolina Panthers may be out of the playoff hunt, but they have plenty to motivate them against the Atlanta Falcons this weekend. The Falcons are a far superior team, but they needed a miraculous comeback to beat the Panthers in Week 4. After leading the improbable come-from-behind victory, Matt Ryan apparently was not friendly to his division rival.

Several Carolina players say they have had Sunday’s game circled on their calendars because of the nasty things Ryan said after their first meeting.

“I can’t repeat it to you. That’s how bad it was,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn told reporters, via the Charlotte Observer. “He totally disrespected us. They won the game. They came all the way back and beat us. But to say what he said, I don’t think it was called for. He could have handled it a different way. But he said it. … He said some harsh words. So it’s going to be a fight out there.”

As Pro Football Talk mentioned, Ryan was caught by television camera’s saying, “Get the f*** off our field!” after his team’s Week 4 win. It’s quite possible it was that statement that rubbed the Panthers the wrong way, and that is likely what has led to defensive end Greg Hardy wanting to embarrass Atlanta.

“I’m really not a fan of the team down the street,” Hardy said. “I’m trying to mess up their whole playoff experience. I want them to go home sick in the stomach, mad about life, a couple depression issues, all types of things. It’s going to be a long day from my point of view. I’m coming.”

It sounds like the 3-9 Panthers are not in search of any added motivation this week. The Falcons have already wrapped up the NFC South and are simply playing for playoff seeding, so it may be difficult for them to match Carolina’s intensity. That being said, there’s no question about which team has the edge in talent.

Panthers have lost 12 straight coin tosses, so they’re asking fans to make next call

Are the Carolina Panthers one of those teams that likes to trust their defense to start off a game and defer to the second half after winning the coin toss? Or do they like putting the ball in the hands of Cam Newton right away to set the tone for the rest of the game? Had they won a single coin toss this season, we might be able to answer that question.

The Panthers have lost 12 coin tosses this season, including each one at the start of their 11 games and one at the beginning of their overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a couple weeks back. Since the team is having absolutely no luck calling the toss in the air, Carolina is asking the fans to make the call this weekend when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

By liking the Carolina Panthers on Facebook, fans can vote for whether the team should call “heads” or “tails” before their game against the Chiefs on Sunday. The fans are currently in favor of heads, which has received 51% of the vote.

The odds of losing 12 straight coin tosses when you have a 50% chance of winning each one are astonishing, but it’s not the first time we have seen something like this happen. Remember when this unlucky team dealt with the same misfortune almost exactly a year ago? Give the Panthers credit for turning their bad luck into a marketing campaign.

H/T The Big Lead

Thomas Davis reportedly cries after Panthers loss

The Carolina Panthers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday that was so crushing it reportedly moved one of team’s players to tears.

According to Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer, Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis cried while talking about the team’s loss. “Thomas Davis brought tears in describing the Panthers’ latest loss,” Person tweeted.

It’s easy to see why Davis was so disappointed after the loss. The Panthers were up 21-10 with six minutes left and blew the lead. The defense allowed Tampa Bay to drive 80 yards in 50 seconds for a touchdown to make it 21-19 Panthers. Carolina also allowed to a two-point conversion to tie the game and send it to overtime, and then they allowed the Bucs to go 80 yards for a winning touchdown in overtime.

Davis, who had a team-high 16 tackles, was penalized 15 yards on a questionable unnecessary roughness call during the tying drive. He also forced a fumble on a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter.

At 2-8, there is no doubt many Panthers fans are crying along with Davis. At least he didn’t hold up the team bus with his crying.

DeAngelo Williams, Cam Newton ticked Redskins made Panthers ‘homecoming’ game

Teams generally schedule an opponent they think they’re going to beat for their homecoming game, that way they can look good in front of fans they want to impress. That point was not lost on Carolina Panthers players DeAngelo Williams and Cam Newton.

Williams said after the Panthers beat the Redskins 21-13 that he was pretty upset when he woke up Sunday morning and saw that Washington dubbed the matchup with Carolina a “homecoming” game.

“I get over and I pick over the game day [program], and I’m looking at the [program], it’s customary,” Williams said, per D.C. Sports Bog. “And I look on there and it says homecoming. And I’m thinking to myself, like, this is the National Football League. Are you serious? Homecoming? Homecoming.

“And it’s not like you tried to hide it. You blatantly put it on the front of the game day. And you’re talking about somebody fired up today? I was pissed.”

Williams says he mentioned the slight during the team’s pregame meeting and that the entire squad was fired up by it.

“It was the whole team,” said Williams. “It was the whole team. That was definitely motivating. I mean, you don’t say you’re gonna have a homecoming in the National Football League. I mean, you do it in college. It’s [against] one of those teams that’s just terrible. You don’t book a good team for homecoming….I don’t know if they had a dance or anything; I just know you don’t give a team extra motivation by putting that on your program, just blatantly coming out and saying you’re our homecoming game.”

After the game, Cam Newton seemed to indicate he felt the same way.

According to FOX’s A.J. Perez, Newton said it was “embarrassing” to be the Redskins’ homecoming opponent.

Maybe that was the type of motivation Carolina needed. They won the game 21-13 and beat the Redskins well enough to make Mike Shanahan practically give up on the season.

The Redskins had more than 150 former players back for the game, and they honored the franchise’s top 80 players. The best way to cap a day like that? With a big fat L. Williams and Newton probably couldn’t have been happier to hang it on them.

Brandon LaFell on loss to Falcons: ‘I felt like we could have got that yard’

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera’s decision to punt at the end of his team’s loss against the Falcons rather than go for it on 4th and less than a yard has been a topic of discussion among Carolina fans this week. The Panthers were past midfield, and Rivera decided to pin Matt Ryan and company deep rather than trying to ice the game by converting a first down.

It sounds like wide receiver Brandon LaFell disagreed with the decision.

“It’s fourth and inches, we’ve got Mike Tolbert, we’ve got Jonathan Stewart, some of the best power backs in the league,” LaFell told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte Tuesday. “I felt like we could have got that yard. And I didn’t want to put our defense in that situation, because we should have won the game right there with that possession.”

The situation the defense had to face was not a difficult one. Carolina was able to pin the Falcons at their own 1-yard line with 59 seconds remaining. Rivera clearly made the right choice, but his defense put Atlanta in a position to win when it allowed Roddy White to come down with a 59-yard prayer on the first play of the drive. They then failed to protect the sidelines and allowed Ryan to easily get his team into field goal range.

It’s easy to second-guess the coach when the end result is not ideal, but Rivera made the right call. As an offensive player, you can understand why LaFell wishes the coach would have given the offense a chance to win it. The fact that Atlanta prevailed doesn’t make Rivera’s decision the wrong one.

Thanks to Sports Radio Interviews for transcribing the interview