Jarrett eager for do-over
By Mike Cranston
SPARTANBURG, S.C. ó Shortly after Muhsin Muhammad re-signed with the Carolina Panthers, he saw Dwayne Jarrett catch a pass during a workout and lightly jog up the field.
It didnít take long for Muhammad to pounce, leading to another painful lesson for the second-year receiver.
iI told him that the one thing you donít have to coach is effort,î Muhammad said Wednesday. iWhen you catch the ball, get up the field. Give me 10 yards. Iím going to do it every single time I catch the ball, Iím going to sprint up the field for 10 yards. I want you do the same. Give me some effort. Thatís all Iím asking just to start off. Those are the little things that make you a professional.î
Becoming a pro has been difficult for the 6-foot-4 Jarrett, who set the Pac-10 career record with 41 touchdown catches in only three seasons at Southern California. The Panthers felt so highly of their second-round pick last year that they released Keyshawn Johnson three days later.
But not only did Jarrett not replace Johnson as the big, possession receiver next to Steve Smith, he couldnít get a jersey on Sundays. Slow to learn the playbook, Jarrett spent much of the first half of the season on the inactive list.
Then came the embarrassing locker-room incident when Smith interrupted Jarrettís interview with reporters, telling him he should go watch film.
Jarrett finished with only six catches for 73 yards and no touchdowns, and he capped his disastrous 12 months by getting arrested on a drunk driving charge in March.
iIt was something I learned from,î Jarrett said of pleading guilty and being sentenced to 24 hours of community service. iItíll never happen again. Itís just a part of growing up and being responsible and making the right decisions.î
The 35-year-old Muhammad has made Jarrett, who doesnít turn 22 until September, his project in camp. Not only are they both tall, possession receivers, Muhammad also had legal troubles early in his career involving possession of marijuana and guns.
iYou have to be able to admit that you were wrong for what you did, put it behind you and not make the same mistakes,î Muhammad said. iThatís basically what I told him. Move on. You have to be able to move on. And you have to win trust back. You have to win your fansí trust, your coachís trust and ownershipís trust.î
On the field, Jarrett has looked sharper running routes and shown good hands while working with the second team in training camp.
iSome people questioned what he knew playbook-wise, but from what Iíve seen heís hitting the books a little harder,î Muhammad said.
Jarrett, who insists heís patched things up with Smith, acknowledged Wednesday that the transition to the NFL has been more difficult than he thought.
Jarrett believes he now knows what it takes to succeed.
iI think itís just more an understanding of the game and being more of a student,î said Jarrett, who set USC records with 216 catches for 3,138 yards. iJust really buckling down as far as playbooks and learning the details of the game. I learned doing that just helps me so much out there on the field. Itís like night and day.î
Jarrett faces increased competition to move up the depth chart. The ineffective Keary Colbert and Drew Carter were not re-signed in the offseason and were replaced by veterans Muhammad and D.J. Hackett. They have worked as the second and third receivers after Smith.
Ryne Robinson, a kick returner, is fighting for the No. 4 receiving job with Jarrett. The two have worked together for much of camp.
iHeís not the same Dwayne as he was last year. Itís evident to everybody,î Robinson said. iHe has a different attitude, not being so comfortable with everything. Heís coming out and actually working at it.î
Jarrett knows he needs to keep that increased work ethic to erase memories of a miserable 2007.
iJust the whole NFL experience of being a rookie, I grew from that last year,î he said. iDefinitely coming into camp, Iíve proven that Iíve gotten over my humps and Iíve turned that corner.î