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July 30, 2011

Cam Newton knows NFL 'a high level'

Cam Newton addressed the Charlotte media today, saying he expects to "pay his dues" as a rookie and that's he's "not above" carrying vets' pads, or doing other rookie traditions.

Newton said it was important to get to camp on time. He also said Steve Smith's return and the presence of playmakers at tight end and running back will ease his transition to the NFL.

Smith and Newton have been working out privately in Charlotte, and Newton said the sessions have shown him the pro game "is played at a high level," and all his throws "don't have to be perfect for Mr. Smith to catch the football."

Newton, who wore No. 2 at Auburn, said he wanted to keep the number but was not willing to meet Jimmy Clausen's asking price for the jersey number. Newton, who will wear No. 1, said he has no hard feelings toward Clausen, adding the two have been getting along in film sessions and position meetings.

-- The Panthers have released a roster, and it shows they still have a few moves to make. It lists 87 players, three short of the 90 teams are allowed to have in camp post-lockout.

One of those additions figures to be a veteran quarterback. The Panthers still need another corner, especially with rookie Brandon Hogan's knee in question.

Philly corner Asante Samuel is available after the Eagles' huge acquisitions this week. And the Panthers already have signed two former Eagles defensive players with ties to Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott -- S Sean Considine and LB Omar Gaither, a Charlotte native.

The Panthers have five Williamses on roster: DeAngelo, Garry, Jason, Thomas & Zack. Heights/weights have not been updated. Guard Duke Robinson is still listed at 6-5 and 330 pounds -- ish.

In other news:

-- Former Panthers cornerback Richard Marshall is headed to the Arizona Cardinals, joining former Panther Jeff King.

-- Veteran kicker Olindo Mare said he wasn't going to try to replace John Kasay, the Panthers kicker since their inception and the last original Panther before being released Friday. "I'm just going to be me. ... That's worked pretty well," Mare said.

Mare has lived in Mooresville five years. "I'm from South Florida, my wife's from New York," Mare said. "So it's 11 hours each way. I don't know how that worked out"

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on July 30, 2011 at 12:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (36)

Saturday's Carolina Panthers links

Saturday's Carolina Panthers links:

From The Observer

Cam Newton in the fold, for $22 million

Five storylines for Panthers training camp

Big money brings big expectations

Scott Fowler: Steve Smith goes deep

Notes: Veteran DE Brayton released

Slideshow: Panthers arrive at Wofford

Win a Cam Newton jersey in our contest

From the Gaston Gazette

Newton signs, and other notes

It would be nice for Steve Smith to have fun

 From elsewhere:

Panthers back in town/Spartanburg Herald

Former Panther QB Moore lands with Dolphins

Panthers pay for potential with Johnson

Posted by Observer Sports on July 30, 2011 at 11:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Enter to win Cam Newton jersey

Enter the charlotteobserver.com contest to win a Cam Newton football jersey.

Winners get a Panthers team store gift card good for one adult Cam Newton jersey or one ladies Cam Newton jersey. The adult jerseys come in white, blue or black. Ladies jerseys are only available in black. The gift card is good for sizes Small through 2X only.

You can enter once an hour all weekend long.

Good luck!

Posted by Observer Sports on July 30, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

July 29, 2011

Cam Newton signs for $22 million, 4 years


Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (above), the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, has signed a deal worth just over $22 million for four years, with all of the money guaranteed. Todd Sumlin - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

SPARTANBURG - The Carolina Panthers have signed quarterback Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in April's NFL draft, to a deal worth just over $22 million for four years, with all of the money guaranteed.

Panthers first-year coach Ron Rivera said he expected to see Newton at tonight's classroom sessions. 

"I expect him to be here," Rivera said.

Newton had been in Charlotte during the negotiations.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney praised Newton's agents, Bus Cook and Tony Paige, for their approach.

"Their approach has been terrific," he said.

The Panthers' first on-the-field workout is Saturday, with the first workout in pads on Monday.

That was not the only news on another busy day for the Panthers.

-- Hurney said he did not think cornerback Brandon Hogan (knee) passed his physical. Hogan, a rookie out of West Virginia, is a candidate for Richard Marshall's starting spot opposite Chris Gamble, if he can get healthy.

-- Negotiations with defensive tackle Terrell McClain have not progressed well, Hurney said, but he didn't elaborate. Other than McClain, all the Panthers draft picks have reported.

-- The Panthers cut defensive end Tyler Brayton. Hurney said the team's aggressiveness in FA made Brayton vulnerable because of salary concerns. Brayton also didn't have a sack in 2010.

-- Also released was defensive end Hilee Taylor and the team withdrew offers to quarterback Keith Null, defensive tackle Ed Johnson and linebacker Nic Harris.

-- Linebacker Omar Gaither, a former Eagle who is from Charlotte and played at Myers Park High, has agreed to terms with the Panthers. He has ties to Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

-- Kicker John Kasay, the last original Panther, was released, as expected.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 29, 2011 at 06:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (37)

Wild night for Dan Connor

SPARTANBURG – Dan Connor's plans for a nice, quiet night on the eve of training camp were dashed Thursday when the Panthers linebacker was rumored to be part of the deal that sent Chicago tight end Greg Olsen to Carolina.

With reporters from Chicago, Charlotte and ESPN tweeting that Connor might be bound for Chicago, his cell phone began blowing up as friends and family tried to get in touch with him.

“I got about a thousand phone calls, a thousand text messages. I wasn't really sure what was going on,” Connor said. “I guess nothing went through. I don't know if it was a rumor or what it was, but kind of a hectic night.”

Connor called his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who also represents Olsen. Rosenhaus told Connor he had heard the same talk, but was not sure where it started. In the end, the Panthers acquired Olsen for next year's third-round pick.

“It was about a two-hour period where it was nerve-wracking and confusing,” he said. “But it all got settled and I'm glad I'm here.”

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on July 29, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

Update: Panthers arriving at camp

Here's what has happened this morning as the Panthers arrived at camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg:

-- Wide receiver Steve Smith arrived, and said his trade talks weren't about money or a new contract. He admitted he's 'been an ass' for a lot of years because his emotions got best of him. He also said he has been working out privately with Cam Newton for a couple of weeks in Charlotte. He was texting with Cam on his way to Spartanburg, and indicated Newton was on his way to Wofford. When asked a followup about Newton, Smith said he didn't text and drive.

-- Defensive end Charles Johnson says teammates are calling him "big money" after his $76 million deal. He says he feels bad because he can't practice until Aug. 4 under the rules of the new CBA. Johnson on his new $72 million deal: "It's all good."

-- Offensive tackle Jeff Otah, who missed last season with a knee problem, says he's fully healthy and able to do everything at camp.

-- Dan Connor says he's glad he's still with the Panthers. There had been rumors he might be part of trade for Bears tight end Greg Olsen.

-- Undrafted free agent Darvin Adams, who played with Newton at Auburn, called Newon a "natural born leader."

-- Ron Rivera just walked thru w/ trainer Ryan Vermillion.

-- Ryan Kalil has arrived.

-- CB Brandon Hogan, Panthers' fourth-round pick out of West Virginia, has signed. Now he has to pass his physical. Coming off knee surgery.

-- OT Lee Ziemba, one of Panthers' seventh-round picks, has signed.

-- Tight end Jeremy Shockey has arrived and was headed over to get his physical.

-- Jordan Senn shows up with a "no lockout" T-shirt on.

-- Mackenzy Bernadeau walked out of the dorm at Wofford with his iPod. Pretty day here under the trees.

-- Jonathan Stewart on the return of DeAngelo Williams: "If it's not broke don't fix it."

-- Defensive end Greg hardy looks beat up after his recent motorcycle accident in Knoxville. He says he is done with motorcycles until he retires. He will miss up to two weeks of camp.

-- Eric Norwood on what he learned at training camp as a rookie: Spartanburg is hotter than Columbia. He passed out on the first day last year.

--As expected, no Matt Moore, Richard Marshall or Dante Rosario in Spartanburg. Competition at CB spot opposite Gamble will be interesting.


Posted by Observer Sports on July 29, 2011 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (38)

Thursday's Carolina Panthers links

Thursday's Carolina Panthers links:

From The Observer

Jon Beason gets new deal worth $50 million

Panthers trade pick for Bears TE Olson

Notebook: Two-a-days gone, thanks to CBA

Fowler: Steve Smith's change of heart

Scott Says: Panthers scorecard so far

Fan's guide: Schedule, directions for camp

From the Gaston Gazette

Panthers sign Beason to new deal

Panthers trade for Bears TE Olson





Posted by Observer Sports on July 29, 2011 at 07:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

July 28, 2011

Panthers acquire another tight end

(Update: The Panthers did not have to trade a player in the Olsen deal, as originally reported. Just their third-round pick in 2012).

The Panthers made a trade Thursday.

But it wasn't the one many expected.

Hours after Steve Smith backed off his trade demands and decided to stay in Charlotte, the Panthers traded for Chicago tight end Greg Olsen, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune reported the Panthers will give up a player and draft pick to acquire Olsen, but did not identify the player other than it is not believed to be Smith.

A Panthers' spokesman said general manager Marty Hurney does not comment on trades until they are official.

Like Jeremy Shockey, who signed with the Panthers before the lockout, Olsen played at the University of Miami. Both played for Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who was the tight ends coach and offensive coordinator for the Hurricanes.

Olsen, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, caught 41 passes for 404 yards and five touchdowns last year in a Mike Martz offense that did not utilize the tight ends downfield.

That will not be the case with the Panthers. At his introductory press conference, Ron Rivera, who watched tight end Antonio Gates exploit defenses in San Diego, said he wanted to find a tight end who could be productive in the pass game.

Now the Panthers have found two, although Olsen has less mileage on his legs than the 30-year-old Shockey.

They also signed blocking tight end Ben Hartsock, giving them a complete overhaul at the position.

Check back for updates.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on July 28, 2011 at 06:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (74)

Panthers sign 10 undrafted free agents

The Carolina Panthers have signed 10 undrafted free agents who will join the team in training camp when it begins Friday in Spartanburg, S.C.

As previously reported, former North Carolina cornerback Kendric Burney was signed by the Panthers along with former Stanford defensive end Thomas Keiser, who will join former Cardinal teammate Sione Fua, a mid-round draft pick by the Panthers.

Burney played just five games as a senior due to suspension but he had five interceptions in his junior season with the Tar Heels.

The team signed three wide receivers -- Darvin Adams from Auburn's national championship team and teammate of rookie quarterback Cam Newton, Brandon Smith of Arizona State and Jamorris Warren of Central Missouri.

Another one of Newton's former teammates, center Ryan Pugh, also signed with the Panthers. That makes four members of Auburn's national championship currently with the Panthers, including offensive tackle Lee Ziemba, a seventh-round draft choice.

The Panthers are also bringing in kicker Adi Kunalic from Nebraska, who will likely handle placekicking duties until free agent acquisition Olindo Mare can begin practicing with the team Aug. 4.

The signees:

Darvin Adams, WR, 6-2, 194, Auburn
Byron Bell, OT, 6-5, 339, New Mexico
Kendric Burney. DB, 5-9, 190, North Carolina
Ugo Chinasa, DE, 6-4, 263, Oklahoma St.
Thomas Keiser, DE, 6-3, 261, Stanford
Adi Kunalic, K, 5-11, 184, Nebraska
Ryan Pugh, C, 611, 307, Auburn
Brandon Smith,     WR, 6-1, 204, Arizona State
Greg Smith, TE, 6-4, 245, Texas
Jamorris Warren, WR, 6-4, 196, Central Missouri

Posted by Observer Sports on July 28, 2011 at 04:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Report: Steve Smith to stay with Panthers

ESPN's Adam Schefter talked to Steve Smith this morning, and Smith told him he'd remain with the Carolina Panthers.

"I'm going to be here and I'm ready to show people a side of me that they haven't seen," Smith said. "I'm staying in Carolina."

Posted by Observer Sports on July 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (44)