Panthers failed to win the NFC South the last two seasons.He believes he's done just that in the NFL draft.The Panthers selected field-stretching tight end Ian Thomas from Indiana and speed rusher Marquis Haynes from Ole Miss in the fourth round Womens Ali Marpet Jersey
, and middle linebacker Jermaine Carter from Maryland in the fifth. They closed out the final day by taking middle linebacker Andre Smith from North Carolina and defensive tackle Kendrick Norton from Miami in the seventh round.Carolina placed a major emphasis on adding speed, a pattern established in the first two days of the draft when it took wide receiver D.J. Moore from Maryland in the first round, cornerback Donte Jackson from LSU in the second and safety Rashaan Gaulden in the third."I have always believed that you can't teach speed — and that is a big part of this game," Hurney said. "You have to be big and you have to be physical, but you have to be fast, too. Coming into this offseason that was one of our goals to add speed, especially to the skill positions."The Panthers had won three straight NFC South titles before Atlanta won in 2016 and New Orleans triumphed in 2017.They lost three times to the Saints last year, including a wild-card playoff loss at the Superdome."One of the things that you have to do is look at your division," coach Ron Rivera said. "To get into the playoffs you have to win your division. ... So when you compare those teams in your division with what you have you most certainly have to be able to match up with those guys across the board."THOMAS' TOUGH ROADThe Panthers got the third day of the NFL draft started by selecting Thomas with the first pick in the fourth round. They believe he is from the same mold as Greg Olsen with the versatility to catch passes and block.Thomas was raised by his siblings after both of his parents died before he was 10 years old —his mother from a kidney infection and his father from a heart attack a year later. Thomas has eight siblings in all, but was primarily raised by his brother, Clif Farmer."I always thank him any chance I get for helping us growing up and for helping me become the man I am today," Thomas said. "He knows how much love I have for him and how much love he has for all of us. I know it's just a blessing to have him as an older brother and a role model."WHAT A JOKERThe Panthers are high on Haynes, even though he's slight for an NFL defensive end at 235 pounds. Still, he broke Greg Hardy's career record for sacks at Ole Miss with 32.But Rivera also likes that Haynes can drop back in coverage and play the team's "joker" position.Rivera says Haynes' pass-rushing skills remind him of current Panthers defensive end Mario Addison."I got a knack for my first step, getting off the ball, because it really makes the offensive lineman really think that they have to overstep, I could then take an inside move," Haynes said. "But if they don't, I can just run right around them and get to the quarterback."SWAGGER TIMEWhen the Panthers pulled the franchise tag on cornerback Josh Norman two years ago, they lost some serious swagger in the secondary.Well, that attitude appears back courtesy of second-round pick Donte "Action" Jackson from LSU. Although he's only 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds, Jackson is plenty confident. When asked who's the fastest player on the Carolina roster he responded quickly, "Me http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/vinny-curry-jersey
, Donte Jackson.""Yeah I'm fast, but my mentality and my toughness and my confidence and my swagger is all there, it's all football," Jackson said. "You know, that's one thing I like to pride myself on. I never really liked to listen to people say I'm too small because I've been listening to that my whole life and it just adds fuel to the fire."Jackson's father was in prison when he was growing up; he said he still speaks with him every other day.STILL NEEDThe Panthers never did find a replacement for running back Jonathan Stewart, cut during the offseason in a salary cap move. Rivera said that Cameron Artis-Payne will get "the first crack" as the No. 2 back behind Christian McCaffrey. Carolina also didn't draft a guard despite losing All-Pro Andrew Norwell to the Giants in free agency.Storylines to watch during the Buccaneers at Dolphins preseason matchup The 2018 preseason finally gets underway for the Buccaneers on Thursday night with an in-state matchup in Miami against the Dolphins. The preseason opener gives us our first taste of Tampa Bay football since December, but it won’t give us a lot of definitive answers to the team’s many questions. Even still, there are plenty of storylines to follow.1. How will the Bucs handle their quarterbacks?Tampa Bay has a tricky quarterback situation on its hands right now. With starting quarterback Jameis Winston set to miss the first three games of the regular season due to suspension, backup Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to get his share of reps with the first team offense. Throughout training camp, head coach Dirk Koetter has given Fitzpatrick the majority of time with the starting offense, while mixing Winston in with all three groups.But now, it’s time for real game action. Koetter noted earlier this week that Winston will probably get around a quarter, but what about Fitzpatrick? Considering his importance for the first three games of the season, will we see him for just a series or two?How Koetter handles his quarterbacks will be worth keeping an eye on. It’s likely that he’ll keep things open and adjust to what the game calls for. Fitzpatrick needs to get in rhythm with the starters, but Tampa Bay needs him healthy. The same goes for Winston. There’s a fine line to walk. Knowing the Buccaneer fan base, opinion on Koetter’s handling of the situation will be split, no matter what he does. 2. What kind of early production will the Bucs get from their new-look defensive line?Part of the busy offseason for general manager Jason Licht consisted of a complete overhaul of the defensive line. Last year, the Bucs were dead last in sacks. Pressure was hard to come by, which created problems for the secondary. Because of the line’s ineffectiveness, something had to be done. Clinton McDonald, whose contract expired, was freed up to go elsewhere. Robert Ayers Jr. and Chris Baker were both released, which created space for newcomers.The free agency period brought Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein aboard to help out Gerald McCoy on the interior of the line. The team then signed Vinny Curry and traded for Jason Pierre-Paul to shore up the edge http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/lavonte-david-jersey
, adding to a group that already featured Noah Spence and William Gholston. The group has a brand new look, which has already raised expectations for this season.How quickly will all of these guys come together? That should be an interesting group to watch on Thursday night, whether it’s the starters or backups. Considering it’s week one of the preseason, we may not see guys like McCoy, Pierre-Paul and Curry for all that many snaps. But there appears to be a lot more depth up front for the Bucs heading into this season, so seeing how the second-teamers play may be just as fun as watching the starting group. 3. How will the rookies respond to their first NFL action?When it comes to Tampa Bay’s 2018 draft class, there’s a lot to be excited about. Defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team’s first round pick, won’t be available on Thursday night due to a calf strain. Even with him on the sidelines, there are more than enough rookies to keep an eye on.On the offensive side of the ball, there’s second round pick and running back of the future Ronald Jones II. Additionally, Alex Cappa is set to get his first professional reps up front at the guard position. He might be a work in progress, but he has a lot of raw talent to work with. Former Penn wide receiver Justin Watson is another intriguing prospect, one who should get a good number of looks from the second and third team quarterbacks. And when it comes to preseason, undrafted rookies shouldn’t be overlooked. Keep an eye on those guys, like former Duke running back Shaun Wilson, who has received a lot of praise throughout camp.Despite Vea missing time, the defense has its own share of youngsters getting their first NFLsnaps on Thursday. The secondary is full of them, with M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis and Jordan Whitehead ready to kick off their careers. Linebacker Jack Cichy, a sixth-rounder, is a guy who could be a sleeper to make the team’s 53-man roster. He is making his way back from an ACL injury, so Thursday’s game could be a big step for him.4. Does Tampa Bay finally have a kicker?The Bucs have had their fair share of issues with the kicking game in recent years. Those struggles have been well-documented. From Kyle Brindza to Roberto Aguayo to Nick Folk http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/kwon-alexander-jersey
, there have been far too many wide lefts and wide rights. The team hopes to get rid of those issues this year.Tampa Bay signed Chandler Catanzaro in free agency, giving him $3.75 million guaranteed. If that guaranteed money didn’t already solidify him as the kicker for 2018, the Bucs waiving rookie Trevor Moore, his only competition, on Tuesday probably did. Kicking in training camp, as Bucs Nation’s Steven Beck outlined here, doesn’t hold much weight. What matters is how a kicker performs when the pressure gets turned on in game action. Now, preseason action won’t necessarily measure that completely, but it would be encouraging to see Catanzaro remain cool, collected and accurate on Thursday night. 5. Who will take the early lead in their respective position battles?Training camp practices and preseason games are all about position battles. Whether it’s a battle for a starting job or simply a roster spot, every team has competitions to work through. There don’t appear to be as many open spots for the Bucs this year, but there are still guys fighting for attention.At the running back position, Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones have the No. 1 and 2 spots held down firmly. But Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and undrafted rookie Shaun Wilson are all going to be in the mix for that third spot. The top four wide receivers are also set, though we could see some shuffling between the three guys behind Mike Evans. Chris Godwin could overtake DeSean Jackson’s spot on the outside, but even if he doesn’t, he might slot in at No. 3 ahead of Adam Humphries. The offensive line has its own share of battles to work out, although injuries are messing with that at the moment.The secondary has the majority of the defense’s position battles. Rookies Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart are already putting pressure on Vernon Hargreaves III and Ryan Smith. With strong play in the preseason, could they work their way into starting roles by the opening weekend of the regular season? It may only be week one of the preseason, but it’s Buccaneer football and it’s back. Excited?