|Rosario who? Panthers TE makes name for himself|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 10 September 2008 13:36|
While Rosario has little in common with the actress from ``Sin City'' and ``He Got Game,'' it was understandable how the mistake might happen: she had only six fewer NFL catches before his breakout game.
``I've had people ask me if that had ever happened before,'' Rosario said Wednesday of the mixup, which led to plenty of ribbing from his friends. ``Other than that her first name is the same as my last name, I don't really see another connection. It was kind of funny, though.''
After catching seven passes for 96 yards, including his outstretched grab of Jake Delhomme's high pass in the back of the end zone for the winning score in one of Week 1's biggest upsets, Rosario's name is being correctly written in numerous fantasy league transactions this week.
ems and catches the ball well,'' Delhomme said. ``I think that was evident in the game. What a play he made at the end.''
When the Panthers made Rosario their fifth-round pick last year, they were uncertain if he'd be a tight end or fullback. He played both positions at Oregon and the Panthers were looking for more pass-catching backs and tight ends.
For the first 11 games of his rookie year, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Rosario played almost exclusively on special teams, with Jeff King securing the starting tight end job. But late in a disappointing season, the Panthers turned to their youth, and Rosario took advantage.
His first NFL catch was a touchdown from Vinny Testaverde in a win over San Francisco. He closed the season with three catches for 36 yards and another score in a victory over Tampa Bay.
While still barely known outside his team, Rosario's quickness intrigued offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson. He planned to make Rosario part of the offense this year in two tight end sets or by replacing King, the slower, better blocker, with Rosario on obvious passing downs.
A hamstring injury that sidelined Rosario for more than two weeks in training camp slowed his development. But with Steve Smith's two-game suspension for punching teammate and numerous other injuries, the Panthers had only three healthy receivers for Sunday's season-opener.
nty of opportunities for Rosario.
``Ever since minicamp they've been toying with different things,'' Rosario said.
Rosario showed his athleticism early Sunday when he hurdled a defender after a catch. But he made his mark on the final drive.
Needing to go 68 yards in just over 2 minutes, Rosario's 11-yard catch helped Carolina get the ball to the San Diego 14 with 2 seconds left. Rosario then lined up in the right slot and made a beeline for the end zone. Rosario was double covered, but Delhomme pump faked to give him some space. He then fired a pass that was slightly tipped, but Rosario made a two-handed grab for the winning score.
``It was kind of surreal,'' Rosario said. ``Those are things that you see on TV as a kid, you dream about growing up, making the winning catch.''
It sure made the tiny town of Dayton, Ore., proud. Rosario remains close with his childhood friends in his hometown, 45 minutes from Portland. Many helped him following the death of his mother, Yvonne, from cancer when he was a junior in high school.
A former volleyball player at Oregon State, Yvonne helped mold a sports family. Rosario's father, Pedro, is a native of the Dominican Republic and had a brief minor-league stint in the Milwaukee Braves organization.
watch out for him and take care for him.''
Sergio is now a sophomore on the basketball team at Concordia University in Portland, and Dante Rosario is quickly becoming the pass-catching tight end the Panthers have been without since Wesley Walls' last season in Carolina in 2002.
Without Smith again Sunday against Chicago, Rosario figures to be another key target of Delhomme. Another big game and there should be no further confusion about his name.