Time Out For Sports: Panthers Fall To Saints; COVID-19 Remains Challenge For Teams; Local Ties To Dodgers
WFAE's Time Out For Sports took a break for a few weeks, and a lot has happened in the interim — especially with how the coronavirus is affecting sports on all levels.
The Carolina Panthers are having their ups and downs, and two former area high school baseball players are in the World Series. Langston Wertz Jr., a longtime sportswriter for the Charlotte Observer, joins us to break things down.
Gwendolyn Glenn: Welcome back, Langston.
Langston Wertz Jr.: Hey, Gwen, good to hear from you again.
Glenn: Same here. So let's start with the Panthers.
[AUDIO FROM PANTHERS-SAINTS GAME PLAYS]
Glenn: Langston, that was from the second quarter between the Panthers and the New Orleans Saints. Give us your thoughts on what went wrong from there.
Wertz: The Panthers had a chance to win. They couldn't stop New Orleans on third down. New Orleans was 12 out of 14 on third down. And you can't get off the field. You can't win. But, if you told me the Panthers are going to be three and four right now back in the summer. I'd have said no they're not going to be. And I think they had a chance to win, they're playing teams tough. I don't think they're really expected to beat the Saints right now.
Glenn: But their defense almost didn't show up there. Their defense was really bad yesterday.
Wertz: Yeah, they have a lot of problems tackling. They have problems making mistakes on third down. There were a couple of chances to get off the field, they had a holding penalty was 40 yards away from the play. They had a missed tackling the open field on (Alvin) Kamara. So they definitely have some things to work on, but they have a young team. You would expect them to make these types of mistakes.
Glenn: So even though they lost, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a good game. Two touchdowns. Twenty-three of 28 pass completions, I think. How do you think he's doing? Because some are saying he's not a clutch player. What are your thoughts?
Wertz: I think Teddy's played well, I think, you know, he's had his moments, you know, but he stays calm under pressure. You know, he's shown the ability to run on that surgically repaired knee which has been amazing. And, you know, he's been pretty accurate. I think the players respond to him. They all talk about how big of a leader he is.
Glenn: OK. And although he's no longer a Panther, many locals are still watching and cheering for former quarterback Cam Newton, who's with the New England Patriots. And Cam didn't have a good Sunday game.
Wertz: No. Cam really struggled Sunday, threw three interceptions against the (San Francisco) 49ers at home. He was benched for Jarrett Stidham. They were down 33-6 at the time. He just has not been the same player since he's come back from COVID-19.
Glenn: I was gonna ask you that. And do you think that they will start him next game?
Wertz: I think they're gonna try to figure it out. The Patriots have been especially hit hard by COVID-19. The kid out of Rock Hill (South Carolina), Stefon Gilmore. The defensive back was also with COVID.
Glenn: Well, let's stick with the coronavirus and how it's affecting sports. Then the Panthers, how many players on their COVID-19 list?
Wertz: Well, they activated Joey Slye and Trent Scott yesterday from the COVID/Reserve list. But they put a cornerback, Rasul Douglas, on the list. And so there's three now with Douglas, Tyler Larsen and Michael Schoefield are the three guys who are out. The NFL and the Panthers and most teams doing pretty well. I thought it was gonna be a really tough year with so many teams, you know 100 people traveling a week. But they've done pretty well, keeping the positivity rates down.
Glenn: What about the college level? COVID-19 is affecting games, including UNC Charlotte, which had several home games rescheduled.
Wertz: It has been a tough year for Charlotte. Seems like every week they play, there's two games they don't play. There was supposed by North Carolina, a much-ballyhooed game that was postponed. They did play this past Saturday. But college has been kind of hit and miss and, you know, a lot of teams just can't test, so they didn't even play. The Big Ten came back this past week. It looks like COVID-19 is getting worse. We may be in for a second wave.
Glenn: What about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools? Have they made a decision on going beyond team workouts?
Wertz: No. CMS has not said whether or not they will allow teams to actually play and practice. We're going to have the ultimate test Nov. 4 because that's the official start of cross country and volleyball practice. So CMS is going to have to make a decision here soon.
Glenn: OK, well, let's switch gears a bit to Lake Norman Christian High in Huntersville and the top players they have, especially Mikey Williams.
Wertz: Well, he's really good. I talked to a high major Division 1 coach last week, and he told me that Mikey Williams is good enough that if he were eligible that he would probably be drafted this year. He's got a NBA body. He's got an NBA game. They have nine Division 1 recruits. They've got a young coach, Mason Padgett, relatively young team. I think as the season goes on, they're only going to get better.
Glenn: OK, and finally, let's go to baseball and the World Series. The L.A. Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays played last night. The Dodgers won and the series is now 3-2. But the big local news is that two Charlotte area natives are playing for the Dodgers.
Wertz: Corey Seager, he plays for the Dodgers. He was the MVP of the National League Championship Series. He played at Northwest Cabarrus High School, he was a first round draft pick. He's just had a monster postseason, I think he had five home runs in the NLCS. He's doing it again in the World Series.
I mean, he's been one the most dominant players on the planet in the playoffs. And the Dodgers also have a pitcher out of Ardrey Kell named Alex Wood went to Georgia and now is pitching for them. So those two kids are gonna have a chance to bring home a world championship to the Carolinas.
Glenn: OK, well, listen, thanks for the updates and glad to have you back.
Langston Wertz Jr: Glad to be back.