Carolina Panthers third-year wide receiver and former 2010 sixth round draft pick David Gettis returned to practice on Monday after what has been a long journey back to the football field.
Gettis, who was expected to battle for the Panthers third receiver position with fellow wide-outs Louis Murphy and Kealoha Pilares in training camp, suffered a major setback leading up to the season with a left hamstring injury after missing all of 2011 due to a torn left ACL.
The Panthers were hopeful Gettis would eventually return during the preseason, but his hamstring held him back, forcing them to keep his name on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list. This limited Gettis to the sidelines until he was eligible to come back after week six of the regular season.
Gettis caught 37 passes and three touchdowns during his rookie campaign in 2010, meaning his 2012 debut at practice this week could have a positive impact on Carolina’s receiving core going forward.
However, there is a catch for both the Panthers and Gettis. Carolina has three weeks to make an assessment as to whether or not Gettis will make the 53-man roster or keep him off the field for the second straight year.
The bottom line is: the Panthers need help at the third receiver spot. Murphy has been virtually irrelevant since week two and Pilares hasn’t panned out to this point in the season either.
Although Gettis will more than likely come out of the gate rusty, he seems excited and prepared to make it back to live game action sooner rather than later.
Gettis told reporters last week: “I’ve done a lot of game-type situations, running routes where you feel like you’re actually in the game. Obviously, that’s not actually a game. It’s going to be different when you’re actually out there for real, but I think I’m going to be fine.”
Gettis proved as a rookie to possess big play potential and could very well serve as a reliable threat for quarterback Cam Newton to target. This is an intriguing option for the Panthers, especially when considering that Newton and Gettis have never taken the field together, raising the hope for Gettis to be Newton’s newest weapon.
At the very least and barring another setback, look for Gettis to make the active 53-man roster. Gettis’ return will probably have a much bigger impact than many fans anticipate.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1.