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Kuechly Takes Over as Panther Defensive Leader, Romo’s Payday Equals Greater Efforts

You don’t hear a lot about the Carolina Panthers other than stories about its inconsistent quarterback or coach sitting on the hot seat but now there’s news that linebacker Luke Kuechly will step up as the team’s defensive leader this season.

Luke Kuechly

Luke Kuechy

The NFL’s leading tackler (164) in 2012 is taking over the reins from fellow linebacker Jon Beason. The veteran is entering the season after two injuries and five games in 2012; he will move to weak linebacker while Kuechly, starting his sophomore season, was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and is now ready to assume the leadership role.

Beason recently said of his teammate via CBS Charlotte, “You look at Luke and you say this kid is exceptional — this kid can play. So I’m like, well let’s get out there and be great together. Let’s get everyone together on the same page and go out and be one of the top defenses in the league, because we have that potential.”

Not resting on last year’s rookie accomplishments, this week at the team’s OTAs, Kuechly hit the ground running and has already received praise from his teammates.

Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, who is not one to give out compliments about young players, saidof Kuechly via The Drive on Twitter, “He is a student of the game…He is taking over that defense, he is composing that defense which is neat to see… He really is becoming the quarterback of the defense.”

But will Kuechly hit the infamous sophomore slump? His quarterback Cam Newton struggled a bit in his second year but there are hopes he’ll get back on track second No. 3.

In the last two seasons, the Panthers have finished below .500. They ended both on high notes including a flurry of wins by small margins.

There’s a new general manager in town for this team, Dave Gettleman, and change is coming. For now, the Panthers sit with a 2013 regular win total at seven (-125 o, -105 u).

Bigger Romo Payday, Bigger Commitment  

Tony Romo

Tony Romo

After paying quarterback Tony Romo the greatest payday in team history, now comes the expectation that he will show a greater effort to the Dallas Cowboys.

This week general manager/owner Jerry Jones said of his $100 million man via ProFootballTalk, “When you give somebody $100 million, you’d like to get every ounce of anything they can bring to the table to win a football game.”

No pressure here Tony.

Jones did say that he wasn’t questioning Romo’s commitment but that he wants him to give it all he has to the team. But does that mean he hasn’t done it in the past? It’s a fair question given the team’s last two 8-8 seasons with a playoff drought since 2009.

No, it’s not that Jones thinks Romo is average but added, “We’ve been disappointed the last two years. Nobody more so than him. We’re going to take what we’ve got with Romo’s great experience, ability, decision making, all of those things and we’re going to try to win more ballgames.”

This past week, the Cowboys opened their OTAs and absent from the gathering was Romo. He is recovering from minor back surgery and is not expected to return until training camp but could participate in a requisite mini-camp starting June 11.

Jones hasn’t said whether or not that’s his goal to see Romo return. If not, there’s the July 21 date looming for the team’s first camp practice.

While Romo is currently on the sidelines, he has already shown more involvement. Jones has said he’d like the player to have Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning as his role model.

Again, no pressure here.

With games still months away, the Cowboys sit at a 2013 regular season win total at 8 1/2 (-115 o/u).

In other words, another season without the playoffs.






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