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September 30, 2009

#Panthers may turn to veteran DT Hollis Thomas, cut this week by Rams

The Panthers may have interest in veteran defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, 35. He was released by the Rams earlier this week, in part to clear room for their younger players to play more.

Carolina, which ranks 29th in the league in run defense, has been hit hard by injuries at defensive tackle and could use help at the position.

Thomas (6-0, 340 pounds) may not be a starter anymore, but likely could provide help in the playing rotation. He's a former starter for the Eagles and Saints who joined the Rams this season. He had two solo tackles in St. Louis' first three games.

Thomas is a 14-year veteran who was known as a stout run defender during his prime.

On Tuesday, the Rams added former Panthers DT Marlon Favorite to their practice squad. Favorite was an undrafted free agent from LSU who spent the preseason with the Panthers, getting plenty of repetitions with the first-team defense after Maake Kemoeatu's season-ending injury.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on September 30, 2009 at 09:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Fox says 'yes with a capital Y' on Delhomme's status

Coach John Fox is standing strongly behind Jake Delhomme as the team's starting quarterback. He just said after practice "yes with a capital Y" when asked if he was committed to Delhomme as his starter.

"I didn't think that was a question, but if that needs to be clarified, yes with a capital Y," was his full quote on the subject.

Delhomme has played much better the past two weeks after a five-turnover performance in the opener against Philadelphia, but he still ranks next-to-last in the NFL in passing efficiency.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on September 30, 2009 at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (161)

Checking in on Panthers' run defense, success of opposing rush offenses

The Panthers 29th-ranked run defense so far hasn't held any opponent to less than 150 yards rushing or 30 rushing attempts.

That simply isn't a formula for winning, especially for a team with a head coach (John Fox) with a defensive background.

Thought it'd be worthwhile to see how the teams Carolina has  played, and those they face in the coming weeks, are faring overall in their running games, so here are those results:

Dallas, which totaled 212 rushing yards Monday night, leads the NFL. Philadelphia (185 yards vs. Panthers in Week 1) ranks 12th and Atlanta (151 vs. Carolina in Week 2) is 23rd. The Falcons, led by '08 Pro Bowler Michael Turner, almost certainly will finish the year much better than where they're currently ranked

The Panthers have this week off, then play Washington, which is 24th in rushing but has one of the league's best backs in Clinton Portis, with Tampa Bay (25th) and Buffalo (9th) to follow.

The Bills are a legitimately strong rushing team. They've succeeded with their backup, Fred Jackson, filling in for suspended starter Marshawn Lynch, who rejoins the team this week.

The Panthers likily will struggle all year stopping the run due to being extremely thin at defensive tackle after losing starter Maake Kemoeatu (ruptured Achilles) in training camp and replacement Louis Leonard (broken ankle) at the end of the second game.

-- Charles Chandler

Follow our Panthers coverage on Twitter ... @CharlesChandler and @davidscott14

Posted by Observer Sports on September 30, 2009 at 10:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

September 29, 2009

Postgame #Panthers observations

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few things to think about over the next two weeks:

-- If it's possible for an 0-3 team to think this way, the Panthers might be able to take comfort in who they're playing their next three games -- at home after the bye week against Washington, at Tampa Bay and at home against Buffalo. If they're not favored in those three -- 0-3 teams seldom are -- they'll at least know they're in the soft spot of their schedule and might well be able to make up some ground.

-- Stopping the run needs to continue to be the team's priority in practice. The Cowboys ran for 212 yards, slicing througn an interior defensive line that has been revolving-door shaky all season. Two players -- Sunny Harris and Antwon Burton -- weren't with the team when the season began. Defensive backs were making a lot of tackles, never a good sign. And the defense wore down quickly in the second half, when the offense went four straight series without getting a first down.

-- Several players said they didn't care if they had a bye week or not, but if it means getting players like safety Chris Harris, defensive end Everette Brown and fullback Brad Hoover back, it's come at the right time.

-- The punt-coverage team again struggled, especially in the second half. The Cowboys' Patrick Crayton had four returns for a 14.5-yard average, but his two late in the game were for 27 and 17 yards. Both returns set up Cowboys scores. -- David Scott   

Posted by Observer Sports on September 29, 2009 at 01:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (61)

#Panthers' Peppers said #Cowboys "didn't do anything special" to defend him

Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was held without a sack for the second consecutive game in Monday night's 21-7 loss at Dallas. The only statistics he was credited for on the official defensive stats sheet were two tackles, one solo and one assist.

Peppers, who is being paid more than $1 million per game this season, was asked in the locker room how Dallas contained him.

"What they were doing to me?" he said. "Nothing special. I can't sit here and go over every play and how they blocked me, but I didn't see anything special they were doing."

Peppers said he could have played better.

"Always," he said. "Even when I play well, even people say I played great, I still think I can do better. That's never going to change. Good or bad. Win or lose."

Peppers has one sack in three games after having a career high 14 1/2 last season.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on September 29, 2009 at 12:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (52)

#Panthers fall to 0-3 as Gross bluntly says "it stinks"

   By Charles Chandler


   ARLINGTON, Texas – Mercifully, the Carolina Panthers have a bye this weekend.

   They can rest, hope to get healthy and contemplate a season that may already have slipped far, far away even though it is only three weeks old.

   The Panthers lost a game Monday night they admitted they had to win, falling 21-7 to the Dallas Cowboys at snazzy new Cowboys Stadium.

   Carolina is now 0-3, a hole so deep that only three teams in the previous 19 seasons have overcome it and gone on to reach postseason play.

   “It stinks,” said left tackle Jordan Gross. “There’s no way to sugarcoat it. We haven’t won in a long time and we’re losing ugly.”

   The Panthers’ last win was last year, back when they were 12-4 and on a roll.

   Counting their playoff loss to Arizona in January and a 0-4 preseason, they’ve suited up eight consecutive times without a victory.

   Their goal of making the playoffs for the second consecutive season for the first time in franchise history now seems too lofty to be realistic.

   But coach John Fox continues to preach hope of a turnaround.

   “We’ve got a lot of football left and we’re only through a quarter of the season,” he said. “We’ve been on three-loss skids before. We really need to stick together.”

   The Panthers are 0-3 for the first time in Fox’s eight seasons as coach. The other two times they started 0-3 were under Dom Capers – their debut season in 1995 when they finished 7-9, and ’98 when they wound up 4-12.

   Carolina’s offense, which is supposed to be the team’s strength, couldn’t do much of anything against Dallas’ defense in the second half.

   The Panthers punted without a first down on their first four possessions after halftime, then got the ball back at their 10-yard line with 5 minutes, 57 seconds remaining, trailing 13-7.

   DeAngelo Williams’ run for a first town gave some hope for a rally, but that dissipated moments later when quarterback Jake Delhomme was intercepted by Dallas cornerback Terrence Newman, who returned the pick 27 yards for a touchdown.

   A successful two point conversion raised Dallas’ lead to 14 and gave the Cowboys the cushion they needed to improve to 2-1 this season.

   Wide receiver Steve Smith said he was to blame for the interception, not Delhomme, because he failed to run his route properly.

   Fox said of the play: “We obviously weren’t on the same page.”

   Delhomme also threw a first-half interception and now has seven for the season. He also lost a fumble with one minute remaining in the game, his second lost fumble of the season.

   The Panthers had difficulty, especially after halftime, stopping Dallas’ impress array of offensive talent.

   Quarterback Tony Romo bounched back from a three-interception performance in a loss to the New York Giants last week to complete 22 of 33 passes for 255 yards.

   Running backs Felix Jones and Tashard Choice combined for 176 of Dallas’ 212 yards rushing, providing further proof of the weakness of the Panthers’ run defense without out-for-the-season defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu.

Posted by Observer Sports on September 29, 2009 at 12:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

September 28, 2009

Third Quarter Update: #Cowboys take 10-7 lead over #Panthers

The Dallas offense, held scoreless in the first half, scored twice in the third period to take the lead away from the Panthers and were driving again inside Carolina territory as the quarter ended.

Dallas drove to the Carolina 1 early in the period before settling for a field goal. Later, the Cowboys drove 58 yards for a toucnhdown that came on Tashard Choice's 5-yard run.

Dallas dominated time of possession in the period, controlling the ball 9 minutes, 35 seconds compared to 5:25 for the Panthers.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on September 28, 2009 at 10:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

Halftime Update: Panthers lead 7-0

The Panthers, trying to avoid an 0-3 start to their season, struck with an impressive late scoring drive to avoid a scoreless first half and take a 7-0 halftime lead over Dallas.

With no score in the game, the Panthers took over on their 10-yard line with two minutes, 48 seconds remaining in the half and drove 90 yards in eight plays for a touchdown.

The touchdown came on a 25-yard pass from quarterback Jake Delhomme to tight end Dante Rosario with 1:03 remaining in the half. It followed a pass play of the same length from Delhomme to Rosario.

Delhomme was 6-of-7 passing on the drive for 87 yards.

His impressive play followed an earlier interception by Cowboys cornerback in the second quarter on a deep pass to Muhsin Muhammad.

Dallas drove to midfield after the Panthers' touchdown, but couldn't score and had to punt.

The Panthers' defense had two unnecessary roughness penalties in the quarter, against safety Charles Godfrey and middle linebacker Jon Beason, but still kept the Cowboys off the scoreboard.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on September 28, 2009 at 09:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

First Quarter Summary: Scoreless

There were encouraging signs for the Panthers' defense in the first quarter, especially two key third-down stops, an area in which the defense struggled last week against Atlanta.

However, Carolina's run defense is having difficulty again. The Cowboys' offensive line is opening huge holes up the middle

Dallas lost a chance to score when Nick Folk missed a 40-yard field goal attempt.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on September 28, 2009 at 09:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Observations from a spectacular stadium

-- If you think the 52-inch HD television you have in your den is impressive, you ought to see what's hanging from the ceiling at the $1.15 billion Cowboys Stadium. The four-sided video screen is 160 feet wide by 72 feet  high. And it's high definition (1080), which makes it all the more spectacular. It would take 4,920 of those 52-inch TVs to equal its size.

-- The Cowboys don't enter the field via the normal tunnel route that most other NFL teams do. They walk out through a bar/lounge area with fans right there -- but behind ropes. We understand that as the team waited to run on to the field recently, a fan (who had knocked back more than a few Lone Stars) asked coach Wade Phillips if he missed Jessica Simpson. They're probably going to buffer Phillips from the fans now.

-- They've actually got cheerleaders dancing on platforms above the one of the six "party decks" at either end of the stadium. It gives those areas -- which are general admission and have a capacity of about 30,000 -- the ambiance of, shall we say, a gentlemen's club.

-- The ends of the football-shaped stadium face east-west. So the sun streams through the huge glass windows at the western end as game time approaches tonight. At the eastern end is a great view of the Texas Rangers' Ballpark In Arlington, which is as cool as Cowboys Stadium, in a retro kind of way.

-- If you want to, you can actually spend some money here. A green chile Kobe burger goes for $13 and you can have a Peroni beer (it's Italian) for $9. Tony Romo jerseys go for $109.99 in the pro shop, and you can also pick up a T-shirt with a drawing of the stadium over the words "Ours Is Bigger."

-- Oh yeah, in about 15 minutes, there's going to be a football game. -- David Scott

Posted by Observer Sports on September 28, 2009 at 08:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)