Carroll opened with an overall evaluation of the Panthers. “This is a loaded offense we’re looking at.”
He pointed out that Carolina led the NFL in explosive plays (20 yards or more) last season, averaging 10 or 11 a game. Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton is a huge part of this. “He’s a big stud who likes to run the football and he’s a big, big man.” The Panthers are one of the few NFL teams willing to adopt a version of the read-option offense so popular in colleges because Newton is such a physical runner, the Panthers are not so worried he’s going to be hurt.
He cited an obvious shortcoming on both sides of the ball — third-down efficiency. They’re 27th on offense on third downs and 24th on defense — their lowest ranking in any defensive category other than fourth-down conversions (26th).
Russell Wilson was a topic of a number of questions. Carroll said they’re still trying to find plays that will complement the things they do well (run the ball). “It’s a day-to-day process” to find plays that fit, and it involves more than just finding things that suit Wilson, but also the receivers. He noted that they’ve thrown the ball fewer times than any other team in the league, but their production with first- and second-down passes has been reasonable.
He said Wilson is very hard on himself “but he has great resolve and believes in himself … he’s very steady.” He was asked about the pressure placed on rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. He said that “it’s enormous” but “he’s really equipped to deal with it.” The conventional problems rookie face, Carroll said, are on third downs and in the Red Zone. Wilson is last in the NFL in third-down rating.
Backup quarterback Matt Flynn is healthy enough (elbow) that if they needed he could play.
Carroll said he’d like to see Golden Tate get more passes in his direction.
Third quarterback Josh Portis will be used to replicate Cam Newton in practice this week.
Carroll touted the play of rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. “We don’t have anything he can’t do right now. That’s a major statement.”
On the team’s issues on the road: They have not created turnovers. They have played from behind. They haven’t converted on opportunities.
On Marshawn Lynch’s league-leading rushing. “He’s a ferocious competitor, he’s so strong, he’s remarkably tough to get down.”
On the injury situation: G John Moffitt (knee), DT Jaye Howard (foot) and CB Marcus Trufant (back) were not expected to practice Wednesday