SPARTANBURG — If you go to Carolina Panthers training camp, there are things you notice: late mornings hot enough to make a mannequin sweat; nasty little bugs at evening practices; Jared Green getting open.
Thats Green, an undrafted rookie receiver, running a post pattern. Thats Cam Newton throwing the ball flat-footed at least 50 yards, the prettiest spiral of camp. The ball is in the air so long its as if somebody hit pause so he could watch later. Finally the ball lands in the hands of Green.
Minutes later Newton is intercepted by middle linebacker Jon Beason. Beason has momentum and, if you know him, one purpose: score. Nobody is close to him.
Green runs him down 6 yards short of the end zone.
Most people cant catch me, says Beason, breathing hard. But Darrell Greens son is fast.
If this season goes the way Darrell Green expects, Jared no longer will be known as his son. Hell be known as a Panther.
You remember Darrell. A former cornerback for the Washington Redskins, he four times was all-pro and in 2008 was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Jared introduced him.
Darrell, who ran the 40 in 4.29 seconds, was the fastest man in the NFL.
Jared, who runs the 40 in 4.33 seconds, might be the fastest man in Spartanburg.
I dont know, I dont know, Im not sure yet, says Jared Green, who at 6-foot-1 is four inches taller than his father. Im sure there will be guys who object to that. I do feel that Im a pretty fast guy so if we raced thatd be pretty cool.
Jared played flag football as a kid, but his parents did not allow him to play in pads until ninth grade. Jared played high school ball outside Washington and, after being redshirted as a freshman, three seasons at Virginia. He graduated with a degree in anthropology.
His receiving numbers declined his junior year, and he played his final season for former NFL running back Stump Mitchell at Southern.
Yet, in many ways he was home-schooled. Green worked with his father on football intricacies and conditioning, and he trained with family friends who happened to be legendary receivers Art Monk and Michael Irvin. He learned from James Thrash, a craftsman of a receiver.
In camp, Green has majored in Steve Smith.
I study Steve Smith every day, Green says. I study him on the field and I study him off the field. I study the way he prepares and I watch his routes and I watch his techniques and I watch his aggression and I like his aggression.
Thats probably the No. 1 thing I like to take from him the passion in his routes. I feel that I run good routes but Id like to break through that wall of passion and aggression to where you could see that theres a huge mission to be accomplished every time I run a route.
The Panthers typically keep no more than six receivers. Can Green be one of them?
Yeah, says general manager Hurney. Yeah. Weve got a long way to go. But its hard to find guys who can run like that. Hes got great bloodlines. Not only is Darrell one of the terrific people youll meet, but he was a pro. And his son has a lot of those qualities.
Darrell Green and his wife, Jewel, didnt want their son to idolize athletes simply because they could play. There had to be more. When Jared wanted to put a poster on his bedroom wall, he had to explain what the athlete meant to him.
A.C. Green made the wall. Although Green played for the legendary Showtime Los Angeles Lakers, there was nothing showy about him.
We raised Jared to be Godly and to be humble, Darrell Green, 52, says by telephone.
They raised him to play good football, too.
He can do this, the elder Green says. Thats Darrell Green the scout talking. Jared has integrity, commitment, hunger and opportunity, and hes with a good organization all that any kid should want.
Jared and I sit in soft chairs in the student center at Wofford. Hes engaging and gracious. But hes a receiver.
Receivers depend on the kindness of the quarterback. They can run a beautiful route. Yet if they dont get the ball, who will know? If their stats arent talking, the receiver often does. Receivers lead the league in divas.
Our conversation is about to end. Theres not going to be a diva moment, is there?
No, no, Green says more quickly than he has said anything. If that was ever there my dad got it out as soon as possible.
Fans might forget that Jared is Darrells son, Jared wont.