Carolina's offense should look dramatically different under Rob Chudzinski. (AP Photo)
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The more DeAngelo Williams hears about the nuances of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s system the more he smiles.
Williams, who signed a five-year, $43 million contract extension to remain in Carolina last week, will be asked to do plenty of different things this year, including possibly throwing the football on occasion.
“I get to utilize my hands this year and possibly throw some balls,” Williams told the media on Sunday.
That’s not all that surprising.
In San Diego, where Chudzinski used to coach, star running back LaDainian Tomlinson was extremely valuable in that role, keeping opposing defenses honest by drawing safeties up the line of scrimmage for run support and then stopping and finding an open receiver downfield. During his nine seasons in San Diego, Tomlinson completed 8 of 12 passes for 143 yards. Seven went for touchdowns, including three in the 2005 season alone.
The Panthers apparently hope to use the same tactic this season with Williams.
Williams has lined up in the Wildcat before, but has never actually attempted a pass since coming into the league as a first-round draft pick in 2006.
When asked if he’ll be getting tips from rookie quarterback Cam Newton or Jimmy Clausen, Williams laughed and said, “No, I get mine from the Joe Montana highlight film.
“That’s where I get my tips from. If you’re going to look like a pro, act like a pro and throw like a pro you might as well learn from one. I think Joe Montana is a good one to look at. I don’t think I have his height but I can mimic his arm movements.”
Last week Wiliams mentioned in an online chat that Chudzinski also has a package where he and Jonathan Stewart will be used in the same backfield set.
The Panthers will also have designed run plays for Cam Newton and possibly even Armanti Edwards.
As for the offense, Williams said he likes it.
“The number system, West Coast; I had my first taste of it at the Senior Bowl coming out of college with Norv Turner,” Williams said. “So I had a little exposure to it. The running backs are all over the offense, which is pretty cool.”
Likewise, left tackle Jordan Gross is also excited about how the Panthers offense will look like this season after the team finished 32nd in the league in total offense and points scored in 2010.
“What’s not different?” Gross said of this year’s scheme. “I think we’re really going to try to utilize all of our weapons and put in some special packages for some special players. Without getting too detailed, I think fans will be happy to see us open up the throttle a little more… I’m not saying we’re going to score 60 points a game, but we’re sure going to try.”
Williams said he's spoken with tight ends Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey about the offense and they keep telling him he's going to love it.
Wiliams isn't able to practice until Aug. 4 but he's itching to get on the field.
"I really want to get out there, especially with a new offensive system," Williams said. "Getting the steps down, different footwork, different terminology. Everything is the same when it all boils down. It’s still football. But you want to get to know the terminology. It’s tougher when you’re behind the eight ball, when you’re sitting on the sideline and you’re taking mental reps because you kind of want to be in there and get the muscle memory down.”
As for the season, Williams said the Panthers can't help but go up.
"We were 2-14 last year, and winning one game more would mean we were better than last year," Williams said. "It’s just a mindset. Going 2-14 and then being locked out and not being able to be around your teammates to get a feel for everything; you don’t want to be in that position ever again. That’s something that’s driving us and pushing us.
"We’re going to come out and we’re going to play. I know it’s the National Football League, but there’s a lot of teams that don’t even have us circled on their calendar. They just go up to the Baltimore’s, or go up to the New England’s, or go up to the New York’s of the world and just pass us up. Meanwhile, we’re over here working just as hard as those teams, and then when it comes time to play, we’re the underdog. And then pretty soon, we’re in the playoffs. That’s what happened to us when we went 12-4 when Jake (Delhomme) was here. Everybody passed us up, wrote us off.”