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we said goodbye to several captains of the team:

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After losing four captains this offseason Stitched Graham Gano Jersey , the Panthers add one back."All in what seemed like a short period of time center Ryan Kalil, future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers, Pro Bowler Thomas Davis and fan favorite and actual Captain Youth Wes Horton Jersey , Captain Munnerlyn. After seeing the exodus of leadership from the Panthers roster I had serious concerns. It’s not easy to replace a veteran Pro Bowler like center Kalil. Yet just when I was starting to despair, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney made a surprise move which I am sure you have already heard. It turns out Panthers intended free agent signee Matt Paradis was a team captain for the Broncos in 2018. One of two captains of the Broncos offense (along with quarterback Case Keenum). Paradis also had a bit of an iron man reputation up until he broke his leg last season. It was the first extended time he had missed in his six year career. Both qualities will be appreciated in Carolina. I mean how in the world did the Panthers land the top free agent center of the offseason?Like I said the Panthers said goodbye to several team captains in this offseason so it was nice to see them bring one in to address the biggest weakness. I think the defense will be fine with Luke Kuechly in charge. Now if Hurney wanted to really nail his next move in free agency it would involve a safety. That would open up the early picks in the draft to address edge rusher and offensive tackle. Do that and Hurney will have checked the right boxes in this critical part of the offseason. The season was a mixed bag at tight end for the Panthers in 2018."The Panthers’ season at tight end was like a reverse crap sandwich. The middle of the season was actually pretty good, that being when All Pro Greg Olsen was on the field. The problem is that Olsen was injured early in the season opener and missed the next three games. After he returned he played nine games before re-injuring his foot and missing the rest of the season. But then something surprising happened. Rookie fourth round draft selection Ian Thomas got the start and made good on the opportunity. In six starts and sixteen games total Thomas caught 36 balls for 333 yards and two scores. He gave the Panthers a glimpse of the potential the kid possesses.Even if you agree Thomas could develop into a quality starter at tight end in the NFL I’m sure we all agree we would prefer to see a healthy Greg Olsen return to the line up next season. Good news! It looks like Olsen feels the same way:Curse you little bone! I banish you from Middle Earth!Getting back to the wonderful imagination that is NFL performance grades Stitched Wes Horton Jersey , here’s how PFF viewed the tight end position in Carolina in 2018:Olsen provided a typical Olsen performance, just not enough of it. Well he has had better seasons on average but I believe him that he really wants to get back to healthy and on the field. Rookie Ian Thomas was stellar at pass blocking and I liked his soft hands receiving. He has to work on his run blocking of course as a tight end but many parts of his game were well advanced as a rookie. Thomas high point came in Week 14 against the Browns when Thomas hauled in nine catches for 77 yards. The kid was on fire. The only thing missing was a score.Thomas would log his first touchdown as a professional in the Week 16 loss to the Falcons. He caught four balls for 48 yards in that one. Thomas then closed out the season with a touchdown on five catches for 68 yards in the win over the Saints. He truly gave us a glimpse of what we hope is an upward career arc.Rounding out the top three is run blocking tight end Chris ‘Puttin On’ Man-hertz. Manhertz is here to block and he was the best of the three at it. Yet Manhertz was not without his offensive moment of the season. Who can forget his 50 yard touchdown on a trick play pass from running back Christian McCaffrey:I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any Panthers player more wide open than Manhertz on that play. More amazing is the Panthers didn’t botch it. Never mind the rest of that wretched game. That play will give our opposing defensive coordinators something more to worry about.

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