Notebook: Laviska Shenault Jr. puts on a show

CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have a great man in the open field in Christian McCaffrey.

So when he praised newcomer Laviska Shenault Jr. — who scored the only offensive touchdown in a 22-14 win over the Saints — meant something.

“It’s a horse,” McCaffrey said. “He’s a guy who can do everything. He brings a different energy to the offense that I think we’re excited about.”

He also brought some process to the proceedings. While many players hurried out the door to celebrate with their families — the locker room had a very businesslike demeanor — Shenault was ready to do some shopping, and she looked like a man ready for the cameras.

You can’t miss him, as he is wearing a bright green Louis Vuitton tracksuit, eye-catching gold that he describes as “Hulk-vista” and a pair of Nike Air Force Ones (which, according to the youth). people, refers to a person who is ready for business).

“I was just trying to think, what can I wear for the first game, the first day out, that kind of thing,” he said with a laugh. “It’s fine Louis. You know what they say about the black army; it’s time.”

But it wasn’t so much about the style, as the substance the Panthers needed. As the Saints closed the gap to 13-7, Shenault’s 67-yard touchdown provided a spark the offense had been missing all day.

Asked what he saw when he caught his first pass, well, it was about his fitness.

“I saw green,” Shenault said. “I saw an opportunity that had to be taken. It felt good.”

The play wasn’t necessarily meant to go his way, but when Baker Mayfield checked inside the house, he was able to weave through the Saints’ defense and accelerate into the end zone. That came after Shenault’s 36-yard punt return made it impressive even on a day when it was hard to come by — he had 90 of the team’s 170 yards.

When asked what he hopes to show, Shenault said, “That he’s tough. That he’s a dog.”

He also indicated that there will likely be even more of a role for him moving forward, as he was inactive for the first two weeks after being acquired in a late August trade with Jacksonville.

“Laviska is a competitive type of guy, and that’s why we traded him,” Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said. “He’s come a long way and we’re feeling him. It’s been good. He’s had a good return. We’re going to continue his work now to see what he can really do.”

– The win was the Panthers’ first since mid-November, and their first at home since Week 2 of last season.

But during a two-game losing streak to start the year, Rhule stressed that last year’s seven-game finish won’t last, as this team is very different.

“You know me guys; I’m not one for ‘too much.’ We’re two games down,” he said. , now, we are 1-2, we are 1-0 this week, we will play again next week.

“So these guys have done a great job of really telling the story, not to say, but they’re saying, ‘Hey, let’s get better this week, let’s get better this week.’ I think there’s a lot of guys out there, ‘Hey, we did well, but guys on defense feel like we finished the game well. …

“I think they are happy to win, they worked very hard to win, they want to hear the fans happy like they did at the end, it was a great atmosphere today, I thank everyone for coming. But they also know there is more work to be done.”

There were many questions about the general feeling of relaxation to change the story, and Rhulena continued to focus on the present. But as he left his press conference, he couldn’t help but smile.

“But I’m glad,” he said, as he headed for the door.

– Rhule is still encouraging his offensive game, which has started with the same lineup in all three games (after using 14 different lineups in 17 games last year).

There was a late call on rookie left tackle Ikem Ekwonu that wiped McCaffrey’s 40-yarder off the board, but he still ran for 108 yards — his second straight 100-yard game.

“I think the offense played well,” Rhule said. “The left side (Ekwonu and left guard Brady Christensen) are still young, and it’s a work in progress. There are things that have to be improved there, and we knew it early when we were playing young, sophomores. The player of the year and the player of the year. first, it will take time, the long term of the end is called back to stop, we have to be good.

“There’s a lot of positives. I feel like our inside line is strong, I feel like we’re running the football well. If we can stay on the field a little bit more, I think we’ll really see the offensive line come in. rhythm.”

Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) delays a throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman )

Jacob Kupferman/Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) carries the ball against New Orleans Saints linebacker Pete Werner (20) and defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25. , 2022, in Charlotte. , N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

Rusty Jones / Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) delays a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Jacob Kupferman/Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) delays a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Jacob Kupferman/Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Carolina Panthers defensive end Marquis Haynes Sr. (98) recovers a fumble and runs for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo /Rusty Jones)

Rusty Jones / Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Carolina Panthers defensive end Marquis Haynes Sr. (98) runs down the field after recovering from a fumble and running for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo) /Jacob Kupferman)

Jacob Kupferman/Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Carolina Panthers linebacker Brandon Smith (40) celebrates with Carolina Panthers linebacker Frankie Luvu (49) after Luvu forced a fumble during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. ( (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Jacob Kupferman/Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

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