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December 31, 2007

Kalil proud of place in history

It was clean out your locker and turn in your playbook day at Bank of America Stadium today, and as I pulled into the parking lot for coach John Fox’s news conference late this morning, players were leaving the building in ones and twos, most carrying boxes full of stuff from the 2007 season to waiting Hummers, Beamers and Escalades. There went cornerback Ken Lucas and, a moment later, tight end Jeff King. As I entered the building, I passed rookie center Ryan Kalil, who played every snap in Sunday’s 31-23 victory against Tampa Bay in Tampa, Fla.

"Hey, turn on your tape recorder, I want to get something permanently on the record," he said. The recorder squeaked into gear. "I just want to let you know that I was the one who gave (retiring quarterback) Vinny Testaverde’s ... no wait; hold on," Kalil said, laughing. "I want to word this correctly. I snapped Vinny Testaverde’s last snap. Just for the record; I want it to be on record SOMEWHERE."

Testaverde retired after 21 seasons and the record as the oldest starting quarterback to win an NFL game. Kalil, still in diapers when Vinny started, was impressed by that body of work. My tape recorder isn’t exactly the Library of Congress, so I’ll give it slightly more permanence by inscribing it in a blog.

And to all you blog-readers and comment-writers, Happy New Year!

-- STAN OLSON

Posted by Observer Sports on December 31, 2007 at 04:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (31)

December 30, 2007

Panthers' report card

Here’s the Panthers’ report card from Sunday’s victory against Tampa Bay:

QUARTERBACKS: Matt Moore had another solid outing, completing 15 of 24 passes for 174 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Panthers also made a nice gesture by putting in Vinny Testaverde to take a knee on the game’s final play to end his career. GRADE: B

RUNNING BACKS: DeAngelo Williams carried 20 times for 121 yards. If he could put up those numbers every week next season, the Panthers will have fixed their running game. GRADE: B+

RECEIVERS: The Bucs contained Steve Smith, but tight ends Dante Rosario and Christian Fauria came through with touchdown catches. GRADE: C+

OFFENSIVE LINE: Moore was sacked only once and there were holes for Williams and DeShaun Foster. GRADE: A

DEFENSIVE LINE: The Panthers were able to pressure Luke McCown and the Bucs didn’t do a lot of damage on the ground. GRADE: B

LINEBACKERS: Na’il Diggs had a sack and Jon Beason had a game-high 10 tackles. GRADE: B

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Even with a backup quarterback and a bunch of reserve receivers, the Bucs were able to move the ball through the air. GRADE: C

SPECIAL TEAMS: Ryne Robinson had a 60-yard kickoff return and new kicker Rhys Lloyd put a couple of kickoffs into the end zone. GRADE: B

COACHING: In a disappointing season, John Fox had his team playing hard right up to the end. GRADE: B

-- Pat Yasinskas

Posted by Observer Sports on December 30, 2007 at 06:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (56)

Today's inactives

   TAMPA, Fla. -- Here are the inactives for today's game: Receiver Jason Carter, receiver Travis Taylor, cornerback Patrick Dendy, safety Chris Harris, linebacker James Anderson, tackle Frank Omiyale and defensive tackle Gary Gibson. -- PAT YASINSKAS

Posted by Observer Sports on December 30, 2007 at 11:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (20)

December 28, 2007

Jenkins on life in the NFL, the good, the bad

Carolina defensive tackle Kris Jenkins has always been one of the more outspoken Panthers, and he touched on various things in a long-ranging interview this week. When asked if his concerns about the team have been taken care of, though, he paused and then burst into laughter.

"Oooh," he said. "To be honest I do not want to answer that question because…I just don’t want to answer that question. I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s a good question for me to answer going into the offseason, so I think I’m going to pass on that one. You have to forgive me but I am just a player."

So Jenkins, who had a solid season at defensive tackle and is signed through 2009, was asked about his personal situation.

"A lot happened this year, for me personally. And I don’t know what it is; I guess it’s the story of my life—I have these soap opera moments and everything is so laced with drama and good times and bad times. But I guess that’s just my daddy’s fault. He raised me to be able to look in the mirror and judge myself and be able to see what I can do better in a situation and make myself a better person.

"And in these past couple of years, I’ve just had so much growth, just with a lot of things. And one of the biggest things I learned toward the end of this year is that when your perception changes, the things around you change because your perception changes. I think the biggest thing I got out of this year is learning how to be a professional. I’m still just as passionate about the game as I have been; I am the type of person that I am going to put my all on the field. If I can’t do it, then I can’t. But as long as I can I’m going to put my all out there."

Much of that growth included coming to terms with the fact that Carolina was actively shopping him following the 2006 season.

"I just realized that certain things sometimes are better left unsaid. It’s just a different way of doing things," Jenkins said. "Because the reality of what I learned this year is that the NFL, sad to say, is not like high school was, it’s not like Pop Warner. It’s a business. It’s not the pure game anymore. It’s not the game that I grew up on, and I had to come to grips with that very quick."

— Stan Olson

Posted by Observer Sports on December 28, 2007 at 06:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

December 27, 2007

Kalil excited about starting at center in finale

While much recent Panthers talk centers around rookie quarterback Matt Moore, fellow newbie Ryan Kalil is now snapping the ball to him, and, with starter Justin Hartwig lost to injury, will start at center Sunday in Tampa Bay.

Kalil got in the lineup last week when Hartwig was hurt in the second half of the loss to Dallas.

"They constantly tell you you’re one play away and sure enough, that horrible thing happened to Justin and I had to come in," Kalil said. "It’s a weird transition, kind of watching the game and then getting into it. But for the most part, I felt pretty comfortable."

That comfort zone quickly translated back into work.

"This week, definitely a little more studying than usual," he said.

Kalil started the season’s first two games at right guard and gave up two sacks in the second of those, but has been watching and learning since.

"There’s a lot of things that obviously you learn through practices and watching other guys do well or make mistakes on (that you can) learn from," he said. "Definitely where I have the advantage was my body felt a lot better than some of those other guys’ coming in this late in the season.

"It was definitely fun even though we had a loss; it was nice to get back in there and play the position (center) I’ve been playing for so long."

STAN OLSON

Posted by Observer Sports on December 27, 2007 at 05:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

December 26, 2007

Roster moves and injury update

      The Panthers placed defensive end Julius Peppers on the injured reserve list Wednesday and made a series of other roster moves. The Panthers claimed kicker Rhys Lloyd off Baltimore’s practice squad and signed wide receiver Travis Taylor. The Panthers also added defensive backs Patrick Ghee and Eddie Canonico to the practice squad. The Philadelphia Eagles have signed defensive back Tannard Davis off the practice squad.

   Tackle Jordan Gross (ankle), safety Chris Harris (neck) and quarterback Vinny Testaverde (Achilles tendon) did not practice Wednesday. -- PAT YASINSKAS

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Posted by Observer Sports on December 26, 2007 at 12:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (47)

December 22, 2007

Tonight's inactives

   Here are the inactives for tonight: Linebacker James Anderson, cornerback Patrick Dendy, defensive lineman Gary Gibson, offensive lineman Evan Mathis, tackle Frank Omiyale, defensive end Julius Peppers and quarterback Vinny Testaverde. -- PAT YASINSKAS

Posted by Observer Sports on December 22, 2007 at 06:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)

December 21, 2007

Panthers working younger guys in

    Gradually, the Panthers are slipping younger guys into the mix, trying to decide who can play and who can't before the end of the season. Everyone, of course, noticed when rookie quarterback Matt Moore got the start and victory in last week's game. And now, with the strong possibility that defensive end Julius Peppers will miss Saturday's game with Dallas, rookie DE Charles Johnson is expected to get a lot of snaps in his place.

    Johnson was active for the first time last week, and in the rotation. While he didn't make a dent on the stat sheet, several players commented that handled the position well and showed considerable promise.

          There are others. Given an opening by guard Jeremy Bridges' impacted wisdom teeth, Geoff Hangartner, who started 15 games at center last year,  took over at right guard at Jacksonville and hasn't given the position back. With Colbert placed on IR with a knee sprain today, rookie wide receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Ryne Robinson will get more work, and that's a necessity as Carolina tries to get that position  straightened out. They might even take a look at wideout Jason Carter,  promoted from the practice squad today to replace Colbert.

          Also, safety Quinton Teal and linebacker Tim Shaw have turned in solid performances on special teams. Shaw is hidden behind too many LBs to get much defensive work, but Teal, a rookie free agent signee, may get a chance to show what he can do as a DB.

-- Stan Olson

Posted by Observer Sports on December 21, 2007 at 02:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

December 20, 2007

Moore: Don't hold anything back

    Maybe the neatest thing about Panthers practice today was that we didn't need to ask who Carolina's starting quarterback would be. When I jokingly asked coach John Fox about it, he just grinned. Nice -- for once -- for that not to be a game time decision.

          With the answer obviously Matt Moore, some fans wondered if the team had a limited game plan last week because of his inexperience.

          "Last week was a pretty complete playbook," Moore said. "I don't think they held anything back."

          And if they want to add more for Dallas Saturday night?

          "I think if that's the case, that'd be great," he said. "If that's what they feel like doing, then let's do it. I think the confidence is there with everybody. Not only with myself, there's a lot of younger guys that are playing, that did a great job.

          "I don't think that would be anything bad at all."   Doesn't sound much like a rookie, does he?

      Short week an issue?   

      

The short week can mess guys up slightly, particularly when it comes late in the season. Normally, the Panthers would have had Monday and Tuesday to get over Sunday's soreness, but Tuesday brought a
full practice.

          "It's tough, especially coming at the end of the year," said guard Mike Wahle. "Everyone's banged up a little bit already. It does screw up your system a little bit. We have to make sure we get a little
more sleep this week and make up for it."

-- Stan Olson

Posted by Observer Sports on December 20, 2007 at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

December 18, 2007

Wahle: Dallas' schemes different this year

Hang around Panthers guard Mike Wahle long enough and you'll usually learn something interesting. Today someone asked him about watching game film from last year on the Cowboys, who play Carolina here Saturday night.

"It's really tough to look into years past," Wahle said. "They have a little bit different scheme. Each year even though you might be running the same defense or offense, you're always into something a little different. So I don't really find it too helpful to go back, unless you want to look at a specific player."

The conversation rolled on, turning to the upcoming contest in Bank of America Stadium.

"Hopefully we'll have some Carolina fans in the stands," Wahle said with just a hint of a smile. "I know that when Dallas comes to town, they get a lot of fans here. So hopefully we can even it out."

Wahle also talked of a jammed finger suffered in last Sunday's game, but there's no sense mentioning which hand it belongs to because Cowboys defenders just might take aim at that one. He wasn't complaining; it's one of those injuries that O-linemen seem to end up with all the time, and if you do complain your linemates never let you forget it. -- Stan Olson

Posted by Observer Sports on December 18, 2007 at 10:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

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