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September 30, 2007

Jenkins blasts Panthers, calls effort garbage

In perhaps the most emotional locker room outburst in franchise history, Kris Jenkins ripped his teammates. Jenkins wasn’t asked a question to start the outburst and he wouldn’t take questions at the end. But here’s the entire text of what he had to say in between:

You all ready (clears throat)? All right, I’m going to be honest. I think the players owe the fans an apology. I would be as upset as they are if I had to sit in the stands for four hours and look at that garbage. I’m going to be honest with you. That’s what it was, garbage.

I apologize to you Pat because I didn’t put everything out as far as the issue (in an Observer story last week, where Jenkins challenged his teammates to handle prosperity better). This is our issue as a team. As a team collectively, we have no heart. We have no energy. We have no drive. Football is about pride and passion. I’m going to repeat that again. Football is about pride and passion. The pride and the passion that you have for this game makes you want to win. It’s not about the money. It’s not about looking the part. It’s not about standing on the field so everybody can see you on TV and that you look good. It’s about pride and heart. If you have those two, if you win or lose, you’re going to look like a football team.

That’s why we have issues with prosperity. That’s why we have issues when things look good. That’s why we can’t get enough together to look and act like a football team. This is not a 9-to-5 job. This is a game. It is a street fight. It is a gladiator sport and I apologize that sometimes I don’t look the part for what people want me to be. I’m not the weight that everybody wants me to be. But when I step on that field, what you are going to see is pride and heart because I value this game. I love it and that is what is frustrating me. We don’t have that.

We went out there and I felt embarrassed. I walked out the little line or whatever you come through to go play and I walked out and basically, in certain way, I challenged their team. And I challenged my team, because when you step out there like that and you do something like that, you better back it up and we didn’t. We got broke off. We really got broke off and I’m embarrassed to say so.

Right now, my heart hurts. It really does. It’s hard to sit there week after week and go through this. This is what’s not being addressed. Week in and week out, we might say this and we might say that or we need to change this. It’s not that you can’t pay for pride and heart. It might good when you look at the stats or when you look at someone’s 40 time or you look at everything else. But it doesn’t matter how many skills you have. It doesn’t matter how good you look when you catch a pass or when you run the ball or when you tackle somebody or cover somebody.

It’s not going to matter if you don’t have those two things, because this is the NFL. It is the National Football League. It is a professional sport and you have people out here, such as myself, who love this game enough that they’re going to put it all out on the field.

Tampa Bay came and they did that and they royally broke their foot off in our butt. I have nothing else to say. I’m upset about this, but I wanted to say that.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 30, 2007 at 08:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (151)

Where's Weinke?

In case you're wondering, and you probably are after watching David Carr's first few drives, Chris Weinke's still in Charlotte. Co-worker Tom Sorensen saw him in a grocery store a week or two ago. That part's true and confirmed. Also, Sorensen's not certain, but there was a guy stocking shelves who looked a lot like Jeff Lewis. - PAT YASINSKAS

Posted by Observer Sports on September 30, 2007 at 04:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (57)

Panthers deny television report

   Panthers officials are denying a television report by Fox Sports today that said quarterback Jake Delhomme needs surgery on his right elbow.

   Delhomme is dressed today and will be the No. 3 quarterback behind David Carr and Matt Moore. Coach John Fox said Monday that Delhomme does not need surgery.

   Team officials said that hasn't changed. Team spokesman Charlie Dayton said Delhomme remains in a "rehab and rest'' situation. Dayton said he couldn't rule out the possibility that Delhomme could have surgery at some point down the road, but said the plan remains to treat the elbow with rest and rehabilitation. - PAT YASINSKAS

Posted by Observer Sports on September 30, 2007 at 03:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

Jake's No. 3

   Today's inactives:

   QB Jake Delhomme, LB Dan Morgan, LB Adam Seward, OL Evan Mathis, OL Frank Omiyale, TE Marcus Freeman, DE Charles Johnson and DE Otis Grigsby.

   Delhomme will dress and be the No. 3 quarterback behind David Carr and Matt Moore. Also, to clarify, rookie receiver Dwayne Jarrett will be active for the first time this season. - PAT YASINSKAS

Posted by Observer Sports on September 30, 2007 at 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

September 28, 2007

Stan: On watching practice, and offensive posts

I was just reading some of the comments on my last blog and wanted to clear up one thing in particular. During the season, we are allowed to watch practice but are NOT ALLOWED to write about what we see, according to an agreement between the NFL and the association of writers who cover the league.

A very obvious example why –suppose a team is working on a double reverse for the first time this week, and it’s in all the papers. So long, element of surprise. We can report on injuries, and that’s it.

This is obviously not the best situation from our viewpoint, because that means we can’t relay what we’re seeing to you fans. And while Panthers coach John Fox worries about giving an opponent a competitive advantage – he uses that phrase often – and sometimes carries it to the extreme, he’s actually somewhat liberal in allowing media to watch the workouts.

A number of NFL teams close all of their practices.

So why do we bother going to practice at all? To get context. Knowing who is playing at what position and what stuff the team is working on for the upcoming opponent enables us to do a better job of covering the game on Sunday.

It also helps our daily coverage in more subtle ways; i.e., when we interview someone during the week, it’s always for a reason.

I want to add one other thing. We try to keep these blogs clean.

It’s fine to have fun, but not at the expense of offending someone or being crude in your comments. If you are offended by something someone has written here, get in touch with our sports editor (mpersinger@charlotteobserver.com), Kelvin Hart (khart@charlotteobserver.com) or online@charlotteobserver.com.

Any of those folks will look at the comment, and if it is offensive, immediately remove it.

That said, let’s stick to football. We have some posters on this thread who know more about the game than I do, and I like to read those guys. But a post might have 20 comments and 7,000 hits. Keep in mind that you’re not simply writing to the guy who posted three comments ago.

Let’s keep it clean and at least somewhat respectful for everyone.

STAN OLSON

Posted by Observer Sports on September 28, 2007 at 05:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (47)

September 27, 2007

Jake update on hold; Bridges feeling good

The Panthers have NFL-mandated open locker rooms on Wednesday and Thursday from 1:15 until 2. p.m. That’s the best time to get some face time with players, but it doesn’t always work out.

We were curious about how quarterback Jake Delhomme’s strained elbow felt after four days off – he did not practice either Wednesday or today after being hurt Sunday – and as the small group of writers (TV and radio folk usually get all their sound bites Wednesday) entered the locker room today, there was Jake.

He was in a hurry to get somewhere, but said he’d be back before our 2. p.m. curfew – it’s hard to miss because Steve Smith shoots off a remarkably annoying air horn until we clear out.

Delhomme didn’t make it back after all, because he was getting treatment, but no one held it against him because he has proved courteous and helpful since joining the Panthers.

While we waited on Jake, guard Jeremy Bridges messed around across the way, joking with teammates. Bridges has also missed both days of practice; his injury is turf toe. But he said he was optimistic about being able to play Sunday. That would be a boost for the offensive line; one of his teammates remarked that Bridges’ energy and enthusiasm keeps everyone pumped up.

As for Delhomme, we’ll know more Friday.

STAN OLSON

Posted by Observer Sports on September 27, 2007 at 05:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

September 26, 2007

Gruden, Barber speak about Peppers, Smith

Couple of great quotes off our conference calls today with the Bucs.

First, coach Jon Gruden was asked his opinion on fans in Carolina criticizing defensive end Julius Peppers:

"If they’re criticizing Julius Peppers, I don’t know what’s going on with society. He’s still a really great player. He’s playing all over the place. He’s a roamer walking around in the nickel. He’s on the left side. He’s on the right side. He’s covering tight ends and backs. What is there to criticize? He doesn’t have a sack, but I’ve seen him go a couple weeks in the past without a sack. I’ve also seen him get two or three or four in a half. We better account for him. He’s great."

Then, cornerback Ronde Barber let out a laugh when asked about the way Atlanta’s DeAngelo Hall imploded against Steve Smith last week:

"Well, I’ve played against Steve a lot and I know one thing; making him mad is not the right thing to do. I have a lot of respect for that guy. The way he approaches the game and the way he approaches himself. I like his demeanor. When he is playing angry, he is very hard to deal with. So you won’t see me or any of my DBs approaching him in that manner."

PAT YASINSKAS

Posted by Observer Sports on September 26, 2007 at 11:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (25)

September 25, 2007

Everybody's asking about WR Jarrett

No matter how many times we write about it in this blog or in the paper, the e-mails keep coming, wanting to know why rookie wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett has yet to play a down. That’s understandable because Jarrett was a second-round pick and people want immediate results.

There is all sorts of speculation (Jarrett doesn’t know the playbook. Jarrett is soft. Jarrett was set back by a training camp injury. Jarrett just isn’t any good.) as to why the rookie has been inactive for the first three games. You can read between the lines of what’s been written and you can listen to the speculation. Some of it may be true.

But, once and for all, here’s how the folks who make the important decisions around Bank of America Stadium view the Jarrett situation. We’re not saying it’s right or we agree with it, but simply stating what they’re thinking:

They believe wide receiver is one of the hardest positions for a rookie to succeed at (just ask the Detroit Lions of a few years back about that) and, no, they didn’t think Jarrett was ready to help in the first three games. They’re still very high on him, but they view this as a high school situation.

In their eyes, Jarrett is a freshman. Keary Colbert and Drew Carter are seniors. At least as of right now – and you can throw in your punch line at the end of this sentence - the people who count think Colbert and Carter are more prepared to help the team.

The feeling is that Jarrett will be activated at some point and he’ll gradually start to contribute. Colbert and Carter each are in the last year of their contracts and they’re not going to get new ones if they don’t show they can contribute on a consistent basis. Jarrett’s not going to stay on the junior varsity forever.

Again, that’s the company line and it may play out exactly that way. Then again, remember Eric Shelton? - Pat Yasinskas

Posted by Observer Sports on September 25, 2007 at 05:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

Maybe Peppers just has the look

  Reading the excellent column by co-worker and friend Tom Sorensen this morning about Julius Peppers made me have a flash back to something I hadn’t even thought of in about 24 years.

   I’m a little hazy on the time frame. But here’s what I do know for sure: It was spring, probably of 1983. My dad was alive and so was legendary New York newspaper columnist Dick Young. I was a skinny high school infielder with some talent, by rural Pennsylvania standards, and Darryl Strawberry was amazing everyone down in Florida at the New York Mets camp.

   The New York media was carried away in singing the praises of the young outfielder, but not Young. My father, who got up for work at ungodly hours, used to put the local paper at my door each morning so I could read my box scores from the previous day. One day, The New York Daily News was there instead. It was opened to a Young column on Strawberry.

   Young’s message was strong and simple: He admitted Strawberry had amazing talent, but urged the young outfielder to stop making everything look so easy because it would only cause him problems down the road. Young was ahead of his time as a writer and in summing up Strawberry, who for a whole bunch of different reasons, never quite lived up to his enormous potential.

   Anyway, you know the story about Strawberry’s downfall and I’m in no way suggesting Peppers is at all like Strawberry off the field. But the two are a lot a like on the field. Strawberry was and Peppers is as gifted as any athletes who ever have walked on this planet.

   Strawberry’s chance to capitalize on that passed long ago. But Peppers’ hasn’t. Maybe Peppers is playing hard on every down and maybe he’s not. But it’s time for him to at least look like he’s playing hard on every down.

-- Pat Yasinskas

Posted by Observer Sports on September 25, 2007 at 04:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

For a minute, offense looked like '03

        Perhaps the most important aspect of Carolina’s win at Atlanta Sunday — other than the victory itself — was the way the Panthers’ finished.

        In the final three minutes, the offense looked liked the group that rode powerful Stephen Davis to the Super Bowl back in 2003. The coaches want the team to be able to finish off opponents by pounding them on the ground, and that’s what happened; Carolina banged out three first downs on that final drive before taking a knee.

        In the process, the zone blocking scheme new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson has installed worked and running back DeShaun Foster took full advantage.

       Foster carried for 12, 1 and 13 yards, taking it to the two-minute warning. Backup DeAngelo Williams gained a yard while giving him a breather, and then Foster was back, bursting up the middle for 11 more. By then, Atlanta’s timeouts were gone, and quarterback David Carr took a knee twice to run out the clock.

    “To be able to get those first downs and those yards rushing against a nine-man box (nine of 11 defenders near the line of scrimmage and expecting the run), that’s huge for us,” said guard Mike Wahle.

    “What you see is what the potential is. It’s just a question of being able to do it play-in, play-out and week-in, week-out.”

— Stan Olson

Posted by Observer Sports on September 25, 2007 at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

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