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Dwayne’s world: Step up in second season
Published Thursday, August 28, 2008
by Herbert L. White

Dwayne Jarrett’s modest preseason has already surpassed his rookie campaign.

Carolina Panthers receiver Dwayne Jarrett has an opportunity for more playing time to start the regular season. 

The Carolina Panthers receiver has caught seven passes for 83 yards and no touchdowns in three  warmup games, including four catches for 40 yards last week against Washington. The numbers aren’t staggering, but speak volumes about his growth.
“It definitely helps your confidence. You just have to try to do the best you can while you’re out there and try to get better the next week. Just keep the progress going as far as production and showing what you can do,” he said.

Jarrett didn’t produce much in 2007. He caught six passes for 73 yards and was criticized by teammate Steve Smith for not spending enough time studying the playbook. With Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett brought in as free agents, Jarrett realized he needed to demand more of himself.

“I think I’ve grown a lot as a player and I’m still growing,” Jarrett said. “There’s always something to get better at. I’m not satisfied with that performance. I always (have) high expectations, so I’m going to still go out there and make plays.”
Smith and Muhammad have been influential mentors, Jarrett says. The Pro Bowl receivers share their experience in playing the position at a high level, and Jarrett’s an eager pupil.

“They’ve helped me out tremendously,” he said. “They’re like my big brothers. (They’ve taken) me under their wings and we’re all in it together. Anything I can do to help the team, they try to teach me differenct techniques, different ways to do things. I just try to take it from practice on to game day.”

Said Delhomme: “I think it’s up to him. I think (Panthers head coach John) Fox is going to play the best guys without a doubt. Ultimately, you’re judged on the field, you’re not judged on practice.”

Injuries to Muhammad (ribs) and Duckett (toe) and Smith’s suspension for the first two regular season games have given Jarrett a chance to move up the depth chart. If he succeeds, it’ll go a long way toward solidifying the passing game.

“Dwayne’s getting an opportunity,” Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme said. “He needs this. With Steve not being there that first game, we need to find out who’s going to be that other guy and Dwayne made some progress (against Washington). I’m very happy for him.”

Jarrett gets another chance Thursday in the preseason finale against Pittsburgh. Another good outing would go a long way toward making him more than a spectator come opening day.

“I expect a lot out of him,” Delhomme said. “I expect more out of him as the season goes along.”

“I always want to be out there playing, but it’s definitely up to the coaches,” Jarrett said. “I’m here, whether I’m starting or not. That’s not in my control. All I can do is perform well when I’m out there.”


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