I didn't have room to get this into my column today on third-year Panther receiver Dwayne Jarrett, but I did ask him Tuesday what he is concentrating on most as a wide receiver this offseason.
Said Jarrett: "Not dropping a ball. I hate dropping balls. That’s my worst pet peeve. I’ve been doing this since I was eight years old (and thus shouldn't drop any)… But it happens. It's part of the game. You just can't let it get to you. You have to act like it never happened."
Actually, I think Jarrett's hands are OK. Both Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad have been known to drop a few balls every season, and it has turned out all right for them.
I think Jarrett's biggest problem as a pro thus far has been two-fold: 1) simply learning the playbook and 2) "separation anxiety." What do I mean by that? He simply isn't quick enough to get a lot of separation between those fast-twitch cornerbacks that populate every NFL team, which means a lot of catches in traffic, which means a whole lot of contested balls.
Jarrett does believe QB Jake Delhomme trusts him more now after he had a few key catches toward the end of last season. And Delhomme says that's true. But we all know that when harassed No.17 usually looks to No.89 (and wouldn't you?)
What Jarrett really needs to become in 2009 is this team's Ricky Proehl -- a guy who catches 30-40 balls this season, takes some heat off the constant double-teaming of Smith and sneaks deep down the middle occasionally for a big one.