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July 31, 2010

Saturday night special: Smith catches pass

    Saturday's night's practice was interesting on several levels, many of them on the fringes of the practice field itself.

    The Panthers practiced inside Wofford's Gibbs Stadium, turning the evening in to their "Back to Football" party, which included a band, cheerleaders and lots of fun for kids. It was a neat event, further evidence of the team reaching out a bit more this camp.


    As for the football, the most interesting sight was WR Steve Smith catching a few passes from assistant trainer Mark Shermansky, and using that broken left arm to do so.

    If you're looking for signs that Smith's going to be OK for the regular season opener, this might have been a decent one.


    -- Though the practice was in shorts, they turned it into something resembling a live scrimmage, and there was plenty of passing to fire fans up. Maybe the prettiest pass of the night was backup QB Hunter Cantwell hitting his old Louisville teammate TE Gary Barnidge for a touchdown pass. 

    RB Mike Goodson also continued to excel in open spaces, but as you'll read in tomorrow's paper, he's doing some of the dirty work that'll get him on the field more often as well.

    WR Brandon LaFell continued a strong camp with several nice downfield plays, and CB Captain Munnerlyn had an acrobatic interception.

    WR Armanti Edwards had a better night, but the last time he was in Gibbs Stadium went OK as well. In Appalachian State's 44-34 win here in 2009, he went 27-of-34 passing for 415 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score to rally his team from a 14-point deficit. 


    -- CB Richard Marshall sat out the night practice with a sore back, and should be fine.

    More serious appeared to be CB Marcus Walker, who was hauled off the field on a cart after a right leg injury. They didn't update Walker's condition after the practice.


    -- The Panthers also announced that their game against the Chicago Bears was the first to sell out.

    Apparently, the Chris Harris fan club was out in force. Or maybe people want to see that Other Guy who used to play here.

    Fewer than 2,000 tickets remain for home games against Baltimore, Cincinnati and New Orleans.

— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on July 31, 2010 at 09:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Saturday morning observations

    Can't ask for anything better weather-wise than what the Panthers had Saturday morning, a cool, overcast day with a nice downpour about halfway through. Probably never got over 85.

    The action of the field was hotter, however, as they're working more of blitz and blitz pickup, throwing more new information at the team

    -- WR Charly Martin with the first bad break of camp. The fringe prospect, who has quietly impressed, suffered a broken finger and had surgery to repair it Saturday morning in Charlotte.

    Coach John Fox described him as week-to-week, which means we won't see him again in Spartanburg. (Fox also mentioned that yes he knew which finger, but wasn't going to share.)

    Martin's got great hands and is tireless, but this could kill his chance of hanging around.

    Othwerise, not much new on the injury front. LB Jamar Williams was back after missing a few days with a hamstring, while DE Charles Johnson (hammy) and RB Tyrell Sutton (calf) are still out.


    -- RB Mike Goodson is moving quickly from summer school All-American to actual football player. 

    He floored LB Jon Beason in an individual drill, showing he's picking up the trickiest part of a back's responsibilities. 

    If he's trustworthy there, he could see more playing time on third downs this year.

    -- WR Steve Smith continues his mentorship of the young guys on the side. Today, when he wasn't riding around in a cart with owner Jerry Richardson, he was running on a spare field with G Duke Robinson (conditioning). 

    Steve acts sometimes like it's not important to him, or offended if someone asks, but he quietly has moved into a real leadership role in recent years. 

—- Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on July 31, 2010 at 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Carolina Panthers links for Saturday

Saturday's Carolina Panthers links:

Jonathan Stewart can't get out of neutral / Charlotte Observer

Notes: Moore stands to gain from Smith's break / Observer

Sorensen: Kicker ditches smoothies for NFL / Observer

Click here for today's LIVE CAMP UPDATES / Observer

Photo gallery: 35 pictures from Friday / Observer

Posted by Observer Sports on July 31, 2010 at 08:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 30, 2010

Friday afternoon observations

    Notes after a long, hot one in full pads:


    —- If you're down here and think practices are going a little longer, you're right.

    In addition to teaching a bunch of kids, coach John Fox has also built in an extra 10 minutes of cooling-down time into each session.

    Smart, since it's been steamy these first two days. 

    -- Not much new on the injury front. 

    WR Charly Martin left with a left finger injury, and RB Tyrell Sutton was out with a left calf stain.

    DE Charles Johnson and LB Jamar Williams (both with hamstrings) continued to sit out.

    -- Of the six players on the PUP list, Fox said he expects most to be back before camp ends. 

    With G Duke Robinson, the issue is weight, as Fox said he needs to drop a few more before he's cleared to take the field. 

    -- Mentioned this in the running blog earlier, but the gap between QB Matt Moore and the rest of the passers here is considerable. 

    If you took the names and numbers off the jerseys and watched the four of them, you'd pick Moore 10 out of 10 times.

    -- WR Brandon LaFell continues to impress. He's smoother than a lot of rookies, and has shown the ability to catch balls across the middle. It's easy to imagine him pushing Dwayne Jarrett for a starting job sooner rather than later.

    -- RB Mike Goodson usually looks good in shorts, but had a strong afternoon in the absence of Sutton and Jonathan Stewart. He's beginning to look like a capable player, instead of just a tool-sy flag football star.

    -- The Panthers really better hope DT Ed Johnson's serious about football. If he is, they may have pulled another scrap-heap find. He gets a good push inside, and should help the run defense. Curious to see how he holds up over time.


— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on July 30, 2010 at 05:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Live updates from Panthers camp

Today's only Panthers camp practice is scheduled to start at 3:10 p.m. For live updates, refresh this blog.

3:02 p.m.: Hot out here. RB Tyrell Sutton out, left leg in a wrap. LB Williams, DE Johnson also out.

3:03 p.m.: Full pads for the afternoon. Be interesting to see how they bounce back during the contact work.

3:34 p.m.: They're going to work on punt returns later, be interesting to see if Armanti can catch them today.

3:36 p.m.: Without Stewart and Sutton in practice, a lot of chances for RB Mike Goodson. He always looks better in shorts than full pads.

3:42 p.m.: In full pads, doing individual drill, DE Greg Hardy looks like an absolute beast. Now can he play?

3:54 p.m.: LB James Anderson had a good day yesterday, but can't stay off the ground today.

3:56 p.m.: WR Dexter Jackson's chances not great, but he has a strong Mohawk-beard-neck tattoo combo going.

4:01 p.m.: Norwood-Ivy-Senn your second group of LBs, hope for health. Active, but you don't want to go there.

4:03 p.m.: No rhythm to passing game right now. Balls being tipped for picks, QBs missing high.

4:08 p.m.: WR Charly Martin may be the latest victim of heat. Just walked in

4:10 p.m.: Mike Goodson responds with a nice outside run. He can do that part.

4:17 p.m.: Maybe we're taking our eye off the ball, rather than worry about WRs, just throw to the TEs. They're better.

4:21 p.m.: And as soon as I crack on the WRs, LaFell makes highlight. He's far ahead of Edwards now, but he should be. AE just got a nice one though.

4:25 p.m.: If you took the names off the QB jerseys and watched these four, you'd pick Matt Moore, 10 out of 10 times.

4:27 p.m.: WR Charly Martin back on field, but without his pads and helmet. Looks like his departure was heat-related.

4:33 p.m.: Moving into ST work after break. It occurs to me they need a little of that.

4:47 p.m.: Depth charts are fluid this time of year, but DE Hardy is distancing himself from the Hilee Taylors of the world. Good balance, body control.

4:54 p.m.: Everette Brown gets off a W
harton block and makes play on DeAngelo.

5:09 p.m.: Armanti's actually catching his punts today. He's a project and may take time, but the tools are there.

5:11 p.m.: Practice has ended. Watch for our Observations blog a little later tonight. 

5:20 p.m.: According to Fox, Charly Martin has a finger. Sutton has a calf strain.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 30, 2010 at 03:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (45)

Friday morning update: Stewart closer

    The Panthers won't hit the practice field until 3 p.m., and it's going to be a hot one. They're going full pads, so it should be interesting to see how they plow through the effects of yesterday's double.

    Here's a few highlights of the interview period, from which we'll have more in tomorrow's paper.

    -- RB Jonathan Stewart said he hopes to start practicing soon, and hopes to during camp. That's been an issue as long as he's been here, as he said he hasn't felt 100 percent since the end of his final season at Oregon.

    "There's a lot of jokes being made here or there about that whole situation," Stewart said. "But me being an athlete and me being a competitor, practice is something that's very important to excel. You've got guys that are practicing around you and getting better and you're not being able to get the opportunity.

    "Once I get healthy, it's going to be one of the best days of my life, to be able to get back to normal."

    -- RB DeAngelo Williams was singing the praises of QB Matt Moore, laughing as he lauded Moore's ability to hand off.

    He denied that he feels pressure to carry the load this year, saying that Matt's perfectly capable of leading this team through the air.

    He also laughed when asked about Jimmy Clausen, saying he's amazed at the attention the rookie QB has received, beyond anything about the team as a whole, the rebuilt defense, etc.

    -- C Ryan Kalil said that whoever's going to end up at RG will be different than 2009 starter Keydrick Vincent, but he's confident if Mackenzy Bernadeau ends up with that job. 

    Bernadeau is a quicker player, and will change some of Kalil's techniques, but could be an overall upgrade over Vincent, who struggled in pass protection last year.

    We'll have more this afternoon, during practice and a wrap-up following the work.

— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on July 30, 2010 at 01:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Carolina Panthers links for Friday

Friday's Carolina Panthers links:

New leaders needed for young Panthers / Charlotte Observer

Sorensen: Is 4th string Pike's peak? / Observer

Clausen: 'A dream come true' / Observer

Notebook: Beason not as good as Davis? / Observer

Slideshow: 45 images from camp / Observer

Posted by Observer Sports on July 30, 2010 at 08:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

July 29, 2010

Thursday night quick-hitters

    It's hard to glean as much from the night practices at training camp, though there are a few things that stood out from the first short-pants sessions:

    —- There was a good bit of special teams work, kickoffs tonight. They're running through a slew of options there, as there are a good handful or more guys who show the kind of burst they want.

    Mike Goodson, Tyrell Sutton, Brian Witherspoon, Trent Guy, Armanti Edwards and Dexter Jackson all took turns. 

    Goodson's probably the one you'd call the leader in the clubhouse, but it's way too early to make a call.

    -- It's easy to see that they have big plans for Jordan Pugh and Eric Norwood in the kicking game. Both have the kind of explosiveness you look for in that phase.

    Norwood keeps doing things to get noticed. It'll be fascinating to see what they put together to get him on the field.

    -- Speaking of special teams, new assistant Jeff Rodgers was using a bullhorn to get his instructions out there.

    Somewhere, Scott O'Brien just started yelling profanities at innocent passersby and he doesn't know why.

    -- During the 9-on-7 work, there were a number of nice grabs.

    WR Kenny Moore followed up on a solid morning with an excellent diving catch on the sidelines. TE Jeff King made a couple of the kinds of catches he makes, and actually got yards after the catch on a few of them. WR Brandon LaFell looked like a kid who could put some serious heat on Dwayne Jarrett for a starting job.

    -- DE Charles Johnson and LB Jamar Williams were held out of the night session with hamstring strains.

    DT Tank Tyler had the night off, but his looks like more of a maintenance thing.


    That'll take care of tonight. We'll be back with more in the morning. Promise.

— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on July 29, 2010 at 09:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday morning observations

    The Panthers jsut wrapped up their first practice of camp, a session conducted in full pads but without full execution.

    There were ragged moments, typical of what you might expect from the first day back to school. 

    Among the highlights from the first workout:

    -- New QB Jimmy Clausen continued to work with the third team. For all his promise, it's going to take him a moment to catch up. He's a different passer than the other three, shorter and more prone to check-downs at the moment. 

    Twice, he got backs hit by hanging dump-off passes too high.

    But he is very accurate on the intermediate stuff.

    -- Without Steve Smith, they used Kenny Moore and Dwayne Jarrett as the starting receivers.

    Moore had a much better morning, singled out for praise in individual drills. 

    Jarrett went the other way, running a bad route and watching the ball sail behind him by 10 yards, then coming with a limp as if he was hurt. 

    Jarrett needs to pick it up if he wants to shake the three-year bust label.

    -- There were a few minor dings, as DE Charles Johnson and LB Jamar Williams had to leave practice to see the trainers. Coach John Fox hadn't gotten an update on what they tweaked, but he knew they tweaked something.

    Also, rookie LB Sean Ware had to leave practice after being stung by a bee and having an allergic reaction.

    -- WR Armanti Edwards is going to have to work on his punt returns. He bobbled one near the end of practice, and on his next attempt, let it sail cleanly between his hands to hit him on the knee. 

    Safe to say Captain Munnerlyn's ahead of him at this point, but Edwards is very new to the job and needs time to catch up.

    -- The linebackers are an active bunch, even without Thomas Davis.

    Jon Beason, shifting to the weakside to replace the injured Davis, got his hands on a number of passes. If he had better hands, several would have been interceptions, but there's generally a reason young players get shuffled to defense early in their careers.

    Special teamer Jordan Senn was also all over the place, a little quick guy who covers a lot of ground. Most of his work will come in the kicking game, but he's got some spark, and will make plays when he's out there.

    -- With Jeff Otah still recovering from knee surgery and Duke Robinson yet to pass the conditioning test, the offensive line competition fizzled out quietly on day one.

    RG Mackenzy Bernadeau and RT Geoff Schwartz worked with the ones early, and will until the other two come back.

— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on July 29, 2010 at 11:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (33)

Live Observations from Thursday

Darin Gantt's Observations from the morning practice, the first of two today:

-- As expected, the first practice is in full pads. Players who were expected to be here are here.

-- The four quarterbacks were the first ones on the field. Let's see who can play football.

-- Veteran TE Jeff King out early with the QBs. Nobody ever mentions him with the leaders, but they should. Smart, smart player.

--For what it's worth, the QBs are lined up as they were all spring: Moore, Cantwell, Clausen, Pike.

-- As expected with the PUPs, it's now Bernadeau at RG and Schwartz at RT.

--They either need to get guys ready or get some help, because with 12 healthy OLs, the second line is also the third. Will get old quickly.

9:55 a.m.: LB Jon Beason getting used to playing in space, batting down a Moore pass. Probably should have caught it, but hey.

10 a.m.: First one in the trainer's tent: LB Jamar Williams. Hamstring maybe, too soon to tell.

10:11 a.m.: WRs and DBs are doing their thing elsewhere, but the action is in 7-on-7 run drills. RB Sutton looks good.

10:13 a.m.: WR Dwayne Jarrett runs wrong route, looks confused as ball flies away. Not a good first-day impression. 

10:15 a.m.: Kenny Moore, on the other hand, appears serious about the chance he's getting. Was singled out for praise earlier during a blocking drill.

10:16 a.m.: Now Dwayne Jarrett is limping around like he's got a hammy. Great first day Jarrett, really nice. 

10:18 a.m.: Tent's staring to fill up. DE Johnson now over with trainers. Not sure what's wrong.

10:19 a.m.: Now they're looking at rookie LB Norwood under the tent.

10:32 a.m.: If Beason could catch, he'd have 2-3 picks already today.

10:41 a.m.: You know who flies around all over the place? LB Jordan Senn. Great ST player, but shows some life at WLB too. Call him the Senn Master.

-------The morning practice has ended. -------

11:48 a.m. Oddball injury: Rookie LB Sean Ware had to leave practice after being stung by a bee. Hope not as bad as Kindal Moorehead's spider bite.

12:20 p.m.: Read Tom Sorensen's blog on the first practice here.

12:29 p.m.: You know, I've been railing on him for years, but SLB James Anderson had a really good morning. Active. Maybe he's finally found a home. Always thought James played stiff, wasn't very instinctive, but maybe this is the role for him. We'll see. They need him to be competent.

1:12 p.m.: Clausen called today "dream come true," despite some early bobbles, errant passes. Said he's not thinking about working with third team, since he walked into Notre Dame fourth on the depth chart. 

Posted by Observer Sports on July 29, 2010 at 09:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)