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June 24, 2010

Smith: 'It was a mistake'

Panthers receiver Steve Smith, who broke his arm playing flag football last weekend, was on the "Mac Attack" on WFNZ (AM-610) radio this morning. Smith said he was supposed to be at Wimbledon to watch his friend John Isner of Greensboro play, but missed the longest tennis match in history because of his injury.

A few highlights of Smith's interview:

--  "In hindsight, I wouldn't do it again. I was having fun. I love football with a passion. Playing flag football at the Y was a way to take away all the other stuff -- the money, the contract. I was having a good time. But it was a mistake. I wish I could take it back."

-- "I'm a regular guy outside football. I mow my own grass. I could cut off my finger doing that. I could roll my ankle playing tag with my kids in the backyard."

-- "Some people are taking it like it will be a distraction. A lot of guys who play a lot of different sports do different things in their free time. Playing flag football at the time, it didn't seem like I would re-break my arm. But it happened so I've got to deal with it. For my teammates and the organization, it sucks, and I have to do rehab and all that stuff. I just put my team and myself in a bad situation by playing. That was not my intention or what I thought the outcome would be."

-- "At first I thought I'd sprained it. It's not on the actual break (of the previously broken bone). That's still in tact; this is a different spot."

-- "(Missing training camp) will only be a big deal if it presents itself. Anytime you're not able to work together in camp...it's not (necessarily) going to hurt. But it would help (being there). We'll figure it out. I don't think it will be a big factor. We had a lot of good work in OTAs (with younger receivers) that improved and helped. So i don't think it will be a big factor."





Posted by Observer Sports on June 24, 2010 at 01:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

June 23, 2010

Panthers sign USC's Norwood

The Panthers have signed rookie linebacker Eric Norwood, their fourth-round draft pick out of South Carolina.

Norwood is expected to be a pass-rushing specialist.

Norwood is South Carolina's career leader with 29 sacks. Coach John Fox has said he'll use Norwood at linebacker in passing situations and on special teams.

Wednesday's signing puts seven of Carolina's 10 draft picks under contract. Second-rounder Jimmy Clausen and third-round selections Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards remain unsigned.

The Panthers report to training camp on July 28.

-- David Scott and Associated Press

Posted by Charlotte Observer on June 23, 2010 at 06:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

June 22, 2010

Panthers sign rookie QB Pike

-- The Panthers signed sixth-round draft pick quarterback Tony Pike on Tuesday. Pike was one of three sixth-rounders taken by Carolina in the draft. He's the sixth of the team's 10 draft picks to sign.

Pike is fourth on the team's depth chart -- behind Matt Moore, Hunter Cantwell and Jimmy Clausen. He signed a four-year deal with an $81,145 signing bonus, according to his agent Rick Smith.

-- Former Panthers running back Stephen Davis will be the team's minority assistant coaching intern this season, according to a Twitter by his agent David Cantwell. -- David Scott

Posted by Observer Sports on June 22, 2010 at 04:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

Chandler: Time for me to move on

  The time has come for me to move on.

   It has been an incredible privilege and honor to work at The Charlotte Observer and to cover the Carolina Panthers from the days before they were born. I remember fondly the courageous drive Jerry Richardson forged to bring an NFL team to Charlotte and the Carolinas.

   I've been blessed to cover every season since then, most of them as a beat writer for the Observer. There also were some years when I didn't cover the team on a daily basis but worked on enterprise and investigative projects, such as Patrick Jeffers' lawsuit and the steroids scandal involving Dr. James Shortt of West Columbia, S.C.. There also was coverage of NFL retired players' fierce battle for better benefits against the establishment of the league and the NFL Players Association, which is still ongoing.

   I'll always remember the excitement I felt the first time I saw the Panthers' logo and helmet in 1993, just as league owners were giving a unanimous approval to Richardson's bid for a franchise.

   I grew up loving the NFL and majored in history at East Carolina (Class of '82), so it was right in my "strike zone" to be able to document the historic beginning of the first NFL team in my home state of North Carolina.

   It was a big day when the Panthers played their first exhibition against the fledgling Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1995 Hall of Fame Game, and when their first regular-season game in Atlanta turned out to be a thriller. Who could have imagined that they'd make it to the NFC Championship Game in their second season?

   There were struggles along the way, too, deep growing pains for a new franchise.

   My life is better for having the opportunity to get to know and cover people like Jerry, Mark and Jon Richardson; Mike McCormack; Bill Polian; Dom Capers; Marty Hurney; George Seifert and John Fox, not to mention the countless other people in the organization.

   I've learned so much from all of them and from the players who set a standard for courage, determination, commitment and sacrifice that has continually inspired me. Those guys are true warriors and I tip my hat to them.

   For several years, I've had a stirring in my heart and mind to pursue some new endeavors. I'm a communicator and I plan to continue communicating. I have books already in the works and also hope to vigorously explore multi-media ventures.

   There are also missions opportunities that I find irresistable. My wife and I have a daughter we adopted from Russia. When we visited Russia in 2006, I developed a deep compassion for the people of that country, and I want to help them. I also have the incredible opportunity to travel to Nigeria for a crusade.

   Simply put -- and I don't want to sound overly "religious" here --- I have resigned my job at the Observer effective July 2 because I believe the Lord is calling me elsewhere.

   I hope to have a website up soon so I can still communicate publicly. I'll try to post that on Twitter if you're interested.

   Thanks to all of our readers for your commitment to the Observer and to me. I have experienced great support over the years and sometimes brutal honesty from you, especially on message boards and on-line comments beneath stories or blogs I've written. Many of those have helped sharpen me as a person and journalist.

   I also want to say that I still believe strongly in journalism and the newspaper business. It is essential for this country to have a free press. In the purest sense, this business is about pursuing the truth and telling people things they need to hear and that will inspire them, and being a watchdog to protect the rights of all people, especially the poor, helpless and disenfranchised.

   This is an honorable profession and even though it is in transition, it will and must survive, breaking through soon into its best days ever.

   I wish you all the very best.

   Thanks for everything!
   -- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on June 22, 2010 at 04:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 15, 2010

Panthers sign first two picks (Updated)

    The Panthers got their first two draft picks under contract Tuesday, signing sixth-round WR David Gettis and seventh-round CB R.J. Stanford.

    Both Gettis and Stanford are going to have to work to make the 53-man roster, but both had moments in OTAs when they stood out.

    (Update: 10:16 p.m.) The Panthers are expected to announce deals Wednesday with sixth-round DE Greg Hardy and seventh-round CB Robert McClain, per league sources. That would give them 40 percent of their 10-man draft class taken care of before the end of OTAs. That's well ahead of normal pace, as they tend to get them done closer to training camp.

— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on June 15, 2010 at 05:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

June 14, 2010

Monday OTA update: Stewart sighting

    Strange sight at Panthers OTAs Monday.

    RB Jonathan Stewart was running some conditioning sprints after practice. 

    Now, he's still not participating in individual drills, but he's at least doing something, and that's progress.

    He hasn't missed a game as a pro, and was last year's leading rusher, but he's developed a history of not doing much this time of year. 

    We'll see what it means come training camp, but this was the closest Stewart's come to taking part in June since he's been here, so you take it for what it's worth.

    They're hoping his offseason surgery to remove some bone spurs which contributed to last year's Achilles soreness has him able to do more in camp. But as long as he shows up on Sundays as he has for two years, no one's really quibbling about the running-around-in-shorts portion of the season.

    -- Panthers coach John Fox has occasionally knocked some time off the end of OTAs, but don't expect that this year.

    This team is too new, too young to get too many days off.

    They'll work again Tuesday and Wednesday before dispersing for the summer, and reconvening in Spartanburg for training camp.

— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on June 14, 2010 at 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (52)

June 11, 2010

Davis getting quick start on comeback

    While the Panthers' holding out hope for getting LB Thomas Davis back on the field sounds unrealistic, he's wasting no time starting the process.

    According to his agent, Davis will have surgery to repair his second torn right ACL on Saturday. He'll have the work done here, by team doctor Dr. Pat Connor

    There was a month between his first injury and the repair surgery.

    Thinking he could return this season seems stretching things a bit, but there is a sense of hope from his camp after he got a second opinion from noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.

    Davis tore his right ACL Tuesday while backpedaling during a non-contact drill. He suffered the same injury last November, cutting short his best season.

— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on June 11, 2010 at 01:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (28)

June 09, 2010

Panthers will wait to put Davis on IR

    Even though Panthers LB Thomas Davis just suffered a second torn ACL in less than a year, the Panthers aren't prepared to place him on injured reserve any time soon.

    Sources with knowledge of the situation said that at least some small degree of hope for a return this yearm was expressed upon the second opinion by Dr. James Andrews. At the same time, such a return would be extremely unlikely, and isn't expected.

    Frankly, there's no use not holding out hope, no matter how small. If he could get back in six months, it's worth placing him on the active-physically unable to perform list, which would make him roster-exempt for up to the first nine weeks of the season. 

    If he's not well then, then it wouldn't cost them anything in terms of roster spots or money (they were on the hook for his $3.268 million contract when he signed his injury protection letter in March).

    Panthers GM Marty Hurney expressed extreme disappointment about the injury, but said it occurred when Davis was doing the same drills he was doing two weeks ago.

    "It's hard, because he's done everything you could have asked, everything possible to get back," Hurney said. "It's hard because it means so much to him."


— Darin Gantt


Posted by Observer Sports on June 9, 2010 at 06:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

Davis: Another torn ACL

    The Carolina Panthers got this season's first taste of worst-case scenario Wednesday, when tests confirmed the original diagnosis of another torn knee ligament for LB Thomas Davis.

    Davis was lost last November when he blew his right anterior cruciate ligament while backpedaling and planting on the Louisiana Superdome turf. That one was a non-contact injury, and Tuesday's spill was eerily similar. While backpedaling during individual drills next to teammate Jon Beason, Davis went down without being touched by another player, and immediately gripped his right knee.

    Davis confirmed that he tore the ACL again Wednesday afternoon, saying he'd have surgery soon to repair the ligament once more.

    The news is crushing for the Panthers on many levels, not the least of which is the psychological blow of losing a team leader so early.

    Davis had made a remarkably quick recovery, and only a few weeks ago was thrilled that he ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash on the team's testing day. His previous best was a 4.42 the previous year, astoundingly fast for a 240-pound linebacker.

    During that recovery, he had become more and more of a leader, one of the cops of the locker room, barking at young players whose effort he questioned. 

    The news also comes at a terrible time for Davis financially.

    He'll make $3.268 million this year after signing his restricted free agent tender, but was in line for a huge payday later — likely after the league and the players union reached agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Davis would have been in the $8 million per year range, but now will have to rehab again and wonder if the Panthers will still want to do such a deal for a player coming off two season-ending knee injuries.


— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on June 9, 2010 at 05:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

June 08, 2010

Panthers RFAs sign tenders; Davis update

    Panthers LB Thomas Davis and CB Richard Marshall each signed their one-year restricted free agent tenders Tuesday, the team announced.

    The deals were essentially formalities, as both had been here working out -- in Davis' case, for most of the spring.

    Davis will make $3.268 million this year and Marshall $1.759 million. Both would have been unrestricted free agents under the old labor rules, but were stuck thanks to changes that came along with the uncapped year.


    -- Speaking of Davis, it sounds like we'll know more about his condition tomorrow. 

    He tweaked his right knee during an individual drill Tuesday morning, the same knee in which he tore the ACL last November. Davis walked off the field under his own power, alongside head trainer Ryan Vermillion.

    Some tests were performed Tuesday, but more are pending, and that casts an ominous note on the proceedings. 

    If he's out any amount of time, it will thrust trade acquisition Jamar Williams to the fore, and again make them incredibly thin at linebacker. 

    Williams was picked up in the deal that sent SS Chris Harris to Chicago.

    Update 7:44 p.m.: WBTV's Nate Wimberly got a great shot of Davis going down. Seeing it again only raises the concern. Take a look here.

— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on June 8, 2010 at 05:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)