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CHARLOTTE, N. Robert Ayers Jersey .C. - The Panthers say theyd like to find a replacement for longtime No. 1 wide receiver Steve Smith in this years NFL draft. The big question is when theyll do it. The Panthers have the 28th overall pick, but the NFC South champions have a variety of needs after getting hit hard in free agency, and could go in a number of directions with their first-round choice. General manager Dave Gettleman said recently that wide receiver, offensive tackle and cornerback are among the teams top needs, but qualified that statement by adding he wont got out of his way to land one. "When you reach for a position of need youre in trouble," he said. Gettleman said he has some reservations about drafting a receiver in the first round because it often takes them longer to adjust to the NFL game than those who play other positions. "History tells you that its a very difficult position to assimilate into (the NFL), especially with the current game being played at the college level," Gettleman said. Gettleman called it a "wide receiver heavy" draft that includes several players whove put up big numbers. He said the trick is finding guys who can easily make the transition to the next level. "Ill look at a guy and hes caught 90 balls ... but of those 45 were flash screens," Gettleman said. "The other 45 he caught, he ran to three spots. So, do they understand coverage? Theyre going to have to learn the whole route tree. How long is it going to take them to assimilate? Its an issue. Its a problem." Smith was released in a salary cap move earlier this off-season. Replacing his toughness and production wont be easy. He caught 836 passes for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns for the Panthers in 13 seasons. However, after averaging 76 receptions for 1,284 yards receiving and 5.5 touchdowns in his first two seasons playing with quarterback Cam Newton, Smiths numbers fell off in 2013. He caught 64 passes for 745 yards and four TDs. The Panthers signed free agents Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood, but none is expected to become the next No. 1 receiver in Carolina. Five things to watch from the Panthers in the draft: ON THE FRONT BURNER: Jordan Gross retired this off-season, leaving a huge hole at left tackle — one the Panthers potentially could address in Round 1. Gettleman said there are some tackles in the draft dont have "left tackle feet," but said that doesnt necessarily matter. "There are only so many elite tackles," he said. "There are plenty of guys playing left tackle in this league that dont have classic left tackle feet." Finding a left tackle might take on added importance given Newton is coming off ankle surgery this off-season. FIRST ROUND SUCCESS: The Panthers have had tremendous success with their first-round picks the last three seasons. They grabbed defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from Utah at No. 14 in 2013, and he looks like hes going to be around the league for quite a while. They drafted linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 11 in 2012 and quarterback Cam Newton first overall the year before that. Kuechly was the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, while Newton was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011. BLUE GOOSE: Last year, Gettleman said the Panthers needed to add some "hog mollies," or big linemen. This year, the Boston native switched gears, saying if there is a "blue goose" pass rusher available at No. 28 he wouldnt pass on him. Tough to know what a blue-winged bird native to Ethiopia has to do with building a football team, though. CORNERBACK ON RADAR: The Panthers lost starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to Minnesota in free agency. While they signed free agent Antoine Cason, dont rule out cornerback as an option with one of the teams top three picks. The Panthers have one pick in each of the seven rounds. DONT BE REACHING: The Panthers are determined not to reach for picks at positions of need. They followed that plan last year and took defensive tackle Kawaan Short from Purdue in the second round — even after selecting Lotulelei in the first. "Last year, K.K. (Short) was obviously the best value in that second-round pick," Gettleman said. ___ AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL Cameron Brate Buccaneers Jersey . Ben Street scored twice for the Heat (17-5-1), who won their fourth game in a row and 13th in their last 14 outings. Brett Bulmer scored the lone goal for the Wild (6-11-0), who dropped their sixth straight contest. Warren Sapp Authentic Jersey . The Toronto Maple Leafs were holding a news conference, so they got curious. It didnt take long for them to find out via social media that coach Randy Carlyle was coming back — with a two-year extension — and assistants Greg Cronin, Scott Gordon and Dave Farrish were being let go.MELBOURNE, Australia - Serena Williams lost two of four singles matches in her preparations for the Australian Open, while Maria Sharapova won the Brisbane International.Despite those contrasting results for the top two women in tennis, neither player was reading too much into their form lines a few days from Mondays start of the first Grand Slam of the year.Williams wasnt pleased with her two singles losses at the Hopman Cup team event in Perth, including in straight sets to Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, but said Saturday there is a little light at the end of the tunnel.Im never really happy about my practice or preparation, the top-seeded Williams said Saturday. So maybe thats a good sign. I definitely feel better now than I did a couple weeks ago. But every day I can see something coming through.Second-seeded Sharapova said although she played well at Brisbane and had a tough final against Ana Ivanovic, every weeks a surprise.You cant be overly negative; you cant be overly positive, Sharapova said Saturday. I wanted to start off well. I thought I did many things well. But Im not going into next week throwing flowers at myself or anything. Im starting from scratch. Im hungry. Im determined to do better.Sharapova, last years French Open winner and the 2008 champion at Melbourne Park, lost in the fourth round here to Dominika CCibulkova last year, saying she was affected by a hip injury. Doug Martin Jersey. illiams also exited last year in the fourth round, losing to Ivanovic.Last year I felt really good, was playing well ... feeling amazing on the court, Williams said. This year I feel a little off. But I feel off in every Grand Slam. Last year, that didnt work out for me, so maybe this is different.Williams will play Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium in the first round — I heard her first name was Alison, Williams said, preferring not to try to pronounce her opponents last name.Sharapova has drawn an as-yet undetermined qualifier, as has Ivanovic. The two could meet in the semifinals of their half of the draw, while Williams could meet Cibulkova or close friend Caroline Wozniacki en route to a semifinal possibly against Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or sixth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open winner who won four singles titles last year to move back into the top five, said shes confident coming into Melbourne Park. She and Sharapova will play their first matches Monday.I really felt I made big steps towards winning more matches, beating top players, Ivanovic said of her 2014 season. These kinds of things you sort of have to have in place in order to do well at the big events. I feel like Im ready for the next step. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys ' ' '

 

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