This is the fifth in a series of position-by-position looks at the Panthers as they prepare for the first day of training camp practice on July 29.
With all the changes with the Carolina Panthers in the last eight months, it's comforting to find familiarity.
This offseason, like every offseason since 2005, has been spent searching for a complement to wide receiver Steve Smith.
It's a running joke at this point, missing only the rimshot at the end of each groan-worthy Henny Youngman punchline.
"Take Keary Colbert, ... please."
"The doctor told Keyshawn Johnson he was conceited. He wanted a second opinion. The doctor said: 'You're slow too.'"
"Muhsin Muhammad just flew in from Chicago. Boy is his wallet tired."
"Dwayne Jarrett walks into a bar, ..."
In a sense, there's a small sense of relief that Smith will miss camp with his flag-football broken arm (a joke in and of itself). Now they don't have to hold their breath for a month waiting for something worse to happen, and he doesn't have to over-dramatize every slip and fall (like last year's fatal-looking shoulder sprain that cost him about a week).
This way, the Panthers can spend the month sifting through the parts old and new, and trying to figure out what they have. They don't lack for candidates, but they do lack for experience.
-- Jarrett's down to his last chance. There are indications he means to make the most of this one, but it seems we've heard that before. Properly motivated and instructed, he could be a legitimate NFL receiver. He's lost weight, and seems to have reached accord with new coach Tyke Tolbert. Now all he has to do is do something on the field.
-- Kenny Moore will likely work with the ones in Smith's absence. The Butler product has his moments, but the suddenness he showed at Wake Forest hasn't been evident here. He's good at several things, but hasn't shown to be great at any one. The floor is high, but the ceiling is low.
-- Brandon LaFell leads the rookie parade. He's got good size, loves to block. Sound familiar? If he can get more consistent in terms of running routes and hands, he has a chance to be a big-time player. Flashed downfield ability at LSU, but needs time to learn.
-- Speaking of needing time, Armanti Edwards is the definition of a project. He hasn't played wideout since his junior year at Greenwood High. That matters, despite his physical talent. He can make highlight-reel grabs, and we know he's tough. They have high hopes for him, but the simple fact is he's going to have to learn to play his new assigned position.
-- Charly Martin's the sleeper of the bunch. Poised to be a fan favorite because of his scrappiness, he's actually a fairly polished player. Not espescially big or fast, but he gets open and catches the ball.
-- Wallace Wright wants to play offense, he really does. That's not really why he's here, though. The Panthers have lacked a Karl Hankton on special teams for a few years, and that's Wright's job. He'll do it well.
-- The rest of them, you can throw in a sack, and pull one out to stick on the practice squad. Sixth-rounder David Gettis has the most upside (he's got the Drew Carter size-speed thing). Trent Guy has a little spark and could be a return man. Dexter Jackson has improved, but remains a fast guy playing football instead of a football player who is fast. Tre Young has one of those intriguing frames, but it's hard to see him lasting long in a crowded field of kids.
Looking at all the questions, it makes you wonder why the Panthers didn't pursue a veteran. After all, Jarrett's 33 career receptions make up more than half of the non-Smith career catches (48) by the Panthers entire depth chart. Then again, they didn't pursue a veteran at any other need position, so that's at least consistent too.
They're hoping some of the young players emerge, but the thought of relying on so many unproven commodities is almost enough to drive a man to drink.
By the end of camp, you can nearly picture GM Marty Hurney and coach John Fox sitting down in a tavern, next to a horse.
The bartender will walk up and say: "Hey you three guys, why the long faces?"
(I'll be here all week. Try the veal.)
— Darin Gantt