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Jason Avants leadership in Riley Cooper controversy impressed Panthers

Jason Avants leadership in Riley Cooper controversy impressed Panthers
jason-avants-leadership-in-riley-cooper-controversy-impressed-panthers


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Leadership. It’s a word the Carolina http://www.officialeaglesnflauthentic.com/jason-peters-jersey_c-397.html Panthers used a lot when they signed free agent wide receiver Jason Avant during the offseason. Hearing the way Avant handled the Riley Cooper controversy with the Philadelphia Eagles last season, it’s easy to understand why. Cooper had become an outcast with teammates last summer after being captured on video using a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert when a security guard denied him backstage access. In stepped Avant, who for most of the past three seasons had shared a locker next to Cooper. “Guys were coming to me to basically ask me, ‘What should we do about it?’" Avant said on Thursday as he prepared to face his former team for the first time on Monday night in Philadelphia. “I was there to say, ‘Look, at the end of the day, we have to forgive him.'" Avant quoted Bible scripture about casting the first stone. He asked teammates what others would see if they were followed by a camera 24-7, reminding them that there are times when others say things that aren’t politically correct. “Once I said that, guys began to back off a Robert Lester Womens Jersey little bit and started to open up their hearts for forgiveness," Avant said. Other players, such as then-Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, played a role in this as well. Avant doesn’t pretend to be, as he said, “the total all-in-all." He also admits the situation was “troubling to me as a person." But at the end of the day, Avant did what comes naturally to him. He led. Coach Ron Rivera said the Cooper situation came up in conversation when the Panthers (3-5-1) were discussing whether to sign Avant. “What was really neat was his professionalism," he said. “Just listening to [team officials] discuss that, I thought it really was a testament to his character as a man." Avant isn’t in Philadelphia now because he lacked leadership. He’s not there because he didn’t really fit into coach Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense. He admitted soon after signing with Carolina, which lost its top four receivers from 2013, that when it came to route-running and technique, he and Kelly butted heads. That he lacked the speed Kelly looks for in his receivers was a factor. That his contract number was large -- the Eagles saved $3.25 million against the 2014 salary cap by cutting him -- because he was considered a key cog in former coach Andy Reid’s West Coast system also played a role. Avant had 38 catches for 447 yards and two touchdowns last season after having 51 or more in each of the three previous seasons under Reid. “If I was a general manager, I would say, ‘Why would we pay this man two-and-a-half or three million dollars to do something that we can get a guy that is a free agent to do?’" Avant said. “It was just a good business decision." The Panthers aren’t complaining. Avant has helped first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin and the rest of a new, young group of receivers. He ranks fourth on the team in receptions with 20 for 193 yards and a touchdown. “I’m a pro-style player," Avant said. “I can run http://www.titans.us.com/Akeem_Ayers_Jersey up and use space and do different things to get open. In [Philadelphia’s] offense you have to be -- I don’t want to say robot -- but some of the natural things you do as a football player are not the best thing in that offense." Kelly said during a Thursday teleconference he’s “a big fan of Jason." He said Avant did a lot of the “down and dirty, gritty work as an inside receiver for us." He called him selfless. That’s what the Panthers were looking for in their more traditional offense, which requires the receivers to be as good at blocking as they are at catching.

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