The Carolina Panthers endured a dreadful performance in their opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday; with that being said, its time now to take an in-depth look into how key individuals stock has risen and fallen subsequent to their performance from week one. For all intent and purposes, this stock report is based on a player’s performance from 2011 and expectations for 2012.
Cam Newton, QB: Stock Down
The consensus surrounding Newton’s expectations for 2012 were high and for good reason. However, with high expectations come high demands. Newton played poorly in week one despite throwing for over 300 yards with touchdown pass on the road. Newton’s day was of course overshadowed by the 16-10 loss and the two picks and three sacks he yielded to on Sunday. It would be unfair to peg this lousy offensive performance all on Newton, but he is indeed the quarterback and that’s how things work in the NFL.
Steve Smith, WR: Stock Even
Smith missed the final two weeks of the preseason due to an infection in his foot. He was considered questionable to play just days before the Panthers season opener, so his expectations for week one were diminutive compared to his normal high level of projected production. Smith played big; in-fact he led the Panthers receiving core with seven catches for 106 yards. A touchdown on Sunday would have made his stock rise for week two, but for now his stock remains unfazed.
DeAngelo Williams, RB: Stock Down
Williams’ stock is way down following his embarrassing rushing total from week one. The franchise’s all-time leading rusher produced negative one yard against Tampa Bay. His inability to create plays was a major factor in the Panthers demise on Sunday. Williams will need a big performance in week two and three in order for his stock to rise for the Panthers going forward.
Greg Olsen, TE: Stock Down
With former Panthers tight end Jeremy Shockey out of the picture in 2012, Olsen has to be a viable target on every passing play. His six receptions for 56 yards would have been wonderful for Carolina last season, but it simply isn’t good enough this year. Newton will keep throwing his way and Olsen’s stock should begin to rise.
Brandon LaFell, WR: Stock Up
Carolina has to be pleased with LaFell’s progress since he was first drafted by the team in 2010. Entering 2012, LaFell’s expectations were somewhat low. The Panthers just want him to be a reliable second option for Newton; he exceeded those expectations rather nicely in week one. LaFell snagged three catches for 65 yards, one of those catches being a 22 yard laser from Newton for the team’s only touchdown Sunday.
Louis Murphy, WR: Stock Up
Murphy, like LaFell, was brought in to be a solid receiver for Newton to throw to. In this his first season with the Panthers, many around the organization didn’t really know how Murphy would fit into the team’s offense. He fit in perfectly in week one, hauling in three receptions for 63 yards. If he can do that every week and maybe add a catch or two to those totals, then Murphy’s stock should continue to rise in 2012.
Thomas Davis, LB: Stock Up
Davis’ stock is way up. First of all, he stayed healthy on Sunday and secondly, he played great. Davis had three tackles with one solo tackle for a loss. Davis’ afternoon was highlighted by two huge goal line stops on second and third down that allowed Carolina to keep it a one position game for most of the second half. No telling how high Davis will rise this year if he is able to stay on the field and continue to make big plays.
Jon Beason, LB: Stock Even
Beason is Carolina’s leader on defense; not to mention the team’s best performer on that side of the football, so his 10 tackles on Sunday were to be anticipated despite his recovery from an Achilles injury that kept him out for almost all of 2011. Beason needs to put fear in the eyes of opposing quarterbacks and he can do that by finding ways to rack up sacks. Still an inspiring performance in week one, but Beason needs to continue to do more if the Panthers hope to get any better on defense.
Mike Tolbert, RB/FB: Stock Down
Panthers fans should chalk Tolbert’s week one no-show up as opening day jitters, that and the Panthers never gave him a chance to do anything. However, Tolbert’s three receptions for eight yards and one carry for two are not what the Panthers want out of him production wise. Hopefully, Tolbert becomes a more essential part of the offense because he wasn’t in week one.
Luke Kuechly, LB: Stock Even
The rookie played to form in Carolina’s opener, raking in four tackles, but none for a loss. Kuechly’s day wasn’t highlighted by a big hit or forced turnover, though he did play solid football and limited his mistakes. With his first real game under his belt, Kuechly has to get better each and every week; at least that is the plan, the Panthers did draft him ninth overall last spring.
That wraps up this week two edition of the Panthers player stock report. Carolina will host division nemesis, the New Orleans Saints this Sunday at home. The Panthers will need to receive big time gains from these players if they hope to get their first win in 2012.