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Old 08-06-2008, 10:38 PM   #19
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Clemson, SC
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Default Re: Our "one" Panther thread

Wow I couldn't remember how to sticky a thread lol good work Timmeh

SPARTANBURG The impact of Friday's punch-out can still be felt at the Carolina Panthers training camp, and to pretend otherwise is to be a fool.

ESPN was on the televisions in the team dining hall Monday night, and when the commentators began to talk about Steve Smith and Ken Lucas, the Panthers noticed. Before the situation became too uncomfortable, a veteran made a veteran move and turned down the sound.

While forgive and forget does not apply to every Panther, especially those who play defense, each practice since Friday has become a little louder, the chatter at each meal a little looser and lighter.

Although Smith's cheap shots attracted international attention – I got an e-mail from a reader who read about it in England – there's a more important story going on. Carolina has had, Friday excepted, an exceptional camp.

Despite humidity that could make a mannequin sweat, enthusiasm and confidence are intact. The Panthers think they have something.

I've covered all 14 of their training camps, and this has (or had) been among the best. Almost every session has featured a virtuoso performance, and they haven't all been by receiver Jason Carter.

Carter, who spent most of last season on Carolina's practice squad, distinguished himself at the first practice and has yet to stop. I admit that when I discover a player, it is conceivable I overreact.

So let the facts speak. You saw him catch the 13-yard touchdown pass at Fan Fest on Saturday. You probably did not see him catch the deep touchdown pass Monday night from Matt Moore. I don't even see why defensive backs try to cover him, I really don't.

As good as Carter, 25, is, he's had help.

Defensive end Julius Peppers, whom you remember from 2006, has been strong. Receiver and return man Ryne Robinson was until he hurt his knee last week.

A coach tells me the rookies have been outstanding. When I mention running back Jonathan Stewart and offensive tackle Jeff Otah, he immediately says, “And (safety) Charles Godfrey.”

Quarterback Jake Delhomme is 33 and coming off major elbow surgery. Yet he has zipped the ball and still is as excitable as he was when he arrived in 2003. And that's good.

Two other receivers, D.J. Hackett and Muhsin Muhammad, have had fine camps. Muhammad was a leader the moment he returned from his three-season sojourn to the Midwest, and he broke free to catch a touchdown pass Tuesday afternoon in the right corner of the end zone.

When kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd sinks his foot into the ball, the impact sounds different. I heard Andre Agassi hit tennis balls at Olde Providence Racquet Club. Nobody told me which court he was on. I could tell by the sound. It's the same with Lloyd.

Linebacker Thomas Davis has been very good, more instinctive than in summers past. Linebacker Landon Johnson, a former starter for Cincinnati, has played like a starter.

Until he hurt his leg, defensive tackle Damione Lewis looked especially quick. I think it was the one spin class he took this spring at the Ballantyne YMCA.

The most dazzling player has been running back DeAngelo Williams. He reads his blocks beautifully, changes directions instantly and finds room where none appears to exist.

Coaches and officials praise two units – the cornerbacks and the offensive line.

“Ninety-one has had a real good camp,” a coach says.

Who is 91? Ninety-one, should we know you?

“No,” says Gary Gibson.

Gibson, a defensive tackle, was on the practice squad most of last season. He's 26, played at Rutgers and was out of football in 2006.

“I trained to be a financial consultant,” he says Tuesday. “It wasn't great, working in an office and looking at everybody and thinking, ‘Is this really what I want to do?' I was really missing the camaraderie and the guys and all that. I wasn't ready to be done.”

Despite Friday's unfortunate sideshow, the Panthers aren't, either.

Lost of good information in there. I am psyched about this new kicker. I can't remember how man times the other team got good field position because we didn't kick the ball into the endzone.
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