Edwards trying to catch on at WR|Transition is tough for the former QB

Published 8:12 am Tuesday, August 3, 2010

By By Ron Green Jr., McClatchy Newspapers
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — To this point in his newborn NFL career, the transition from All-American quarterback to receiver for former Appalachian State star Armanti Edwards has been about what he expected.
That isn’t necessarily a good thing.
‘‘I expected it to be rough, and it’s what I thought it would be,’’ Edwards said Monday.
The Panthers traded up to draft Edwards in the third round in order to add his explosiveness to their offense. They immediately began the task of converting Edwards, whose quick feet, toughness and decision-making made him a two-time NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Player of the Year, into a wideout and a return man.
Edwards has embraced the opportunity, though he still grapples with the challenges of changing positions. Rather than throwing passes, Edwards is learning to catch them, which also involves refining his conditioning.
‘‘It surprised me how tired I was. I thought I was in shape until I got out here in the first practice,’’ Edwards said.
Coach John Fox said Edwards is adjusting to the increased running his new role requires and he’s seen encouraging signs.
‘‘He’s got good hands and good ability after the catch,’’ Fox said.
The adjustment remains a work in progress. Edwards said veteran receivers have been willing to offer him tips on how to improve his route-running while he spends a significant portion of his free time studying.
Edwards said he spends 30 minutes to an hour studying the playbook between the morning and afternoon practice sessions and another similar period each evening. Throw in meeting time and Edwards is immersed in the transition.
‘‘I still have to tell myself I’m new to this,’’ Edwards said.
Edwards said he’s learning how to run routes precisely, separate from defenders, catch the ball in traffic and run with it after a reception. Having been a quarterback hasn’t been as much help as Edwards thought it might be, he said.
He’s vying for playing time from a receiving corps led by Steve Smith, Dwayne Jarrett and rookie Brandon LaFell . Edwards also is learning to return punts, which has been a struggle at time for the rookie.
‘‘It’s kinda like playing outfield in baseball,’’ Edwards said. ‘‘But I never played that so I’ve had a hard time adjusting to the ball in the air. It just took a lot of repetitions and staying after practice.’’
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