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March 30, 2012

Panthers swap Mike Goodson for Oakland lineman Bruce Campbell

The Panthers traded reserve running back Mike Goodson to Oakland for offensive lineman Bruce Campbell, the Panthers announced today.

The 6-6, 315-pound Campbell played in 14 games in two seasons with the Raiders, primarily on special teams. Campbell, a fourth-round pick in 2010 after leaving Maryland a year early, played in four games last year.

Campbell, who has no career starts, played guard in Oakland. But the Panthers plan to use him at tackle.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said the 23-year-old Campbell has two years left on his rookie contract.

Physically, he's everything you're looking for,” Hurney said. “He's a 6-6, 320-pound lineman with 36-inch arms. He's very athletic. When he came out of the combine, he was one of those guys everyone was talking about his athletic ability.

He's very young in terms of being an NFL player. His first two years out there helped him, and hopefully he'll continue to improve.”

Goodson became expendable after the Panthers acquired free agent running back Mike Tolbert last week.

Goodson, entering his fourth season, had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in 2010 following injuries to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

But Goodson struggled with fumbling issues in training camp last year, and injured his hamstring during the season. Some members of the Panthers' staff also thought Goodson was too content to be the third back, a spot that now belongs to Tolbert, who also will play fullback.

Hurney called Goodson an “extremely talented” back who gave the Panthers “three good years.” Hurney said the Panthers' backfield depth allowed them to acquire a player who will give them depth and perhaps compete for a starting spot.

Hurney reiterated the team is not shopping Stewart, who is entering the final year of his contract.

--Joseph Person


Bruce Campell (2011 file photo, Getty Images)

Posted by Observer Sports on March 30, 2012 at 04:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Panthers re-sign Applewhite

The Panthers have re-signed defensive end Antwan Applewhite, a veteran who filled several roles and provided locker room leadership in his first season with Carolina.

Applewhite received a 1-year deal, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said today. Terms were not disclosed.

The 6-3, 258-pound Applewhite played in 12 games with one start last season after signing with the Panthers in October. He finished with 21 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble while playing defensive end, linebacker and special teams.

He can play a lot of roles,” Hurney said. “He's a very versatile guy with experience.”

Applewhite spent his first four NFL seasons with San Diego after joining the Chargers as an undrafted free agent out of San Diego State. He is one of several Carolina players who were in San Diego when Panthers coach Ron Rivera was the Chargers' defensive coordinator.

Panthers receiver Steve Smith said last season he liked the presence Applewhite brought to the defense – an attribute Hurney also mentioned.

He came in and was a guy who understood what Ron wanted on defense,” Hurney said. “He understands all our concepts and brings a lot of experience to this defense and was able to communicate it to our younger players, and did play a leadership role in the locker room on defense.”

Applewhite, who was waived by San Francisco last year in the final cuts, has 88 tackles, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in five seasons.

--Joseph Person




Posted by Observer Sports on March 30, 2012 at 09:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

March 28, 2012

Panthers looking for linebacker depth


Though he's received positive reports on the rehab progress of starting linebackers Thomas Davis and Jon Beason, Ron Rivera said the Panthers still will consider adding depth at linebacker.

Davis is recovering from his third ACL surgery in two years, and is attempting to become the first player to return from three ACL reconstructions on the same knee.

Beason underwent surgery in September after tearing his Achilles tendon.

Also, the Panthers lost Dan Connor to Dallas in free agency, and are not expected to re-sign free agent Jordan Senn.

They signed former Minnesota linebacker Kenny Onatolu, a backup and special teams player with the Vikings, to a 3-year deal. But Rivera indicated the Panthers could use at least one other linebacker.

“We need to seriously look at it, whether it is through the draft or once we finish the draft and make decisions on other players out there that are still free agents,” Rivera said. “Adding depth would be a huge thing and it is most certainly something we've got to look at as we go forward once we get past the draft.”

Rivera said Davis and Beason both have cleared to start running, but did not give a timetable for when they would begin football activities.

“Things are looking very good (with Davis). We got a good report from our trainer and our doctors, as is Jon Beason with the Achilles tendon. He's come along very well,” Rivera said. “They both have been cleared to start running, so that's a huge plus for us defensively.”

Without Beason and Davis, the Panthers finished 28th in the league in yards allowed.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on March 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)

Rivera: Not in Shockey's makeup to be 'snitch'


Free agent tight end Jeremy Shockey thinks Warren Sapp's accusation that he was the “snitch” who blew the whistle on the Saints' bounty program could affect his ability to land with a team.

But if Shockey does not re-sign with the Panthers, Ron Rivera indicated the decision would have nothing to do with Sapp's claim, which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said was inaccurate.

“If you know Jeremy Shockey, you know that's not Jeremy Shockey,” Rivera said today at the NFL owners meetings. “I know there was an insinuation that he had been the guy. But that's not Jeremy's makeup. That's not who Jeremy Shockey is.

“Jeremy Shockey's a guy that if there was something going on, that's their business. I would be surprised, I really would. It wouldn't hurt him in my eyes either way because, first of all, I think Jeremy Shockey's a tremendous person. I think he's also a very good football person – a football personality who understands this game.”

Drew Rosenhaus, Shockey's agent, remains in talks with the Panthers but said this week he does not think Shockey will be back in Charlotte.

The Panthers gave Shockey a 1-year deal worth $4 million last season, but are not inclined to pay him that much in a new contract.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on March 28, 2012 at 10:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

March 27, 2012

Former coaches say Panthers newcomers will help special teams


The former coaches of Haruki Nakamura and Mike Tolbert – two of the Panthers' free agent acquisitions – say each player will help Carolina's special teams.

A big part of the Panthers' offseason focus has been improving a special teams unit that was among the worst in the league last season in most statistical categories. The Panthers hired Richard Rodgers, Ron Rivera's teammate at Cal, as the assistant special teams coach, and brought in players with a proven track record on special teams.

San Diego coach Norv Turner said Tolbert, who was with the Chargers for four seasons, is a versatile running back who blocks well and can catch passes out of the backfield. But Turner said Tolbert's special teams contributions “will be the biggest thing we have to do in terms of replacing him.”

He brought great energy and he's a very good coverage player in the kicking game,” added Turner at a media breakfast this morning at the NFL owners meetings at the Breakers Resort.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh had similar praise for Nakamura, the free safety who spent four years backing up Pro Bowler Ed Reed. The Panthers expect Nakamura to compete with Sherrod Martin at the safety spot while giving the special teams a boost.

I thought it was really smart for Carolina to bring him in and sign him because at worst, you've got yourself a really good backup and a really good special teams player. And at best you might have yourself a legitimate starter,” Harbaugh said.

Haruki's a great guy, a hard worker, tremendous leader. I think the fans will love him.”

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on March 27, 2012 at 09:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

March 26, 2012

Panthers get sixth-round comp pick


The Panthers were awarded a sixth-round compensatory pick, giving them seven total picks in next month's draft. The comp picks were announced today at the NFL owners meetings at the Breakers Resort.

The Panthers signed two free agents last year, defensive tackle Ron Edwards and kicker Olindo Mare, and lost three – quarterback Matt Moore, tight end Jeff King and cornerback Richard Marshall.

As a result, they gained the final pick in the sixth round and No. 207 overall. The Panthers will have two sixth-round picks, but none in the third: They traded their third-round selection last summer to acquire tight end Greg Olsen.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on March 26, 2012 at 04:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Rosenhaus doubtful Shockey will return to Panthers


Drew Rosenhaus said he is still in talks with the Panthers about veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey, although Rosenhaus believes Shockey likely will land elsewhere.

Rosenhaus, the well-known agent who represents Shockey, said he plans to talk with several teams this week at the NFL annual meeting about Shockey, who is an unrestricted free agent after spending last season with the Panthers.

“The door's still open (with the Panthers). We're still talking,” Rosenhaus said today. “But I think it's more likely that he would be on another team this year.”

Shockey, who will turn 32 before the season begins, caught a career-low 37 passes last year. But he stayed healthy and was praised for giving the Panthers a good locker room presence.

“He's a proven winner. He's got a great personality and leadership,” Rosenhaus said. “We're looking forward to him finding a team, maybe even while I'm here.”

Rosenhaus, who represents Carolina linebacker Jon Beason and several other Panthers, said he plans to meet with Panthers general manager Marty Hurney this week about Shockey and some of his other clients who are free agents.

“The Panthers are one of my favorite teams to deal with. I really like working with Marty. I'll go through it with him,” Rosenhaus said. “I don't know how aggressive they're going to be going forward in free agency. But I've got a few guys I want to talk to him about.”

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on March 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

March 22, 2012

Cecil Newton: 'Nobody wants to hear of wicked intentions'

IMG_NCAA_Newtown_Loopho__2_1_Q731S56TCecil Newton has two sons in the NFL – Cecil Newton Jr., who was on Baltimore's practice squad last season, and Cam Newton, who was on New Orleans' bounty list.

Cecil Newton said the news his son was one of four quarterbacks targeted by the Saints as part of their bounty program hurt him as a father and a football fan.

“I'm a longstanding fan, as thousands and thousands of other people are, and nobody wants to hear of any kind of wicked intentions of hurting and taking out star players from another team. Nobody,” Newton said today in a phone interview. “People put thousands and thousands of dollars into this sport buying memorabilia, paying ticket prices, this and that.”

Cecil Newton, who played safety at Savannah State and was in NFL training camps with Dallas and Buffalo in 1983 and '84, praised Roger Goodell for his handling of the scandal.

“The commissioner came down with what we consider to be a heavy hand. But I think it sends a message throughout the league that it's not going to be tolerated. That's the part I'm glad about, not just Cam and the probability of injury,” he said.

“Of course, I would be concerned as a parent, as a fan and as a supporter. I played defense, so I understand the tenacity of how you approach the game. But the whistle and the rules and the guidelines are the whistle and the rules and the guidelines. When you cross that, there are penalties associated with it.”

Newton said Cam has been doing a lot of traveling following a record-breaking season in which he won Rookie of the Year honors. He was in Los Angeles last week to shoot a Gatorade commercial and has made several stops at IMG Academies, where he trained last year with former Panthers QB Chris Weinke.

Cecil Newton said his son has a personal trainer who accompanies him when he's on the road.

“So he's not just drinking pina coladas sitting by the pool.”

--Joseph Person


Posted by Observer Sports on March 22, 2012 at 02:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (34)

March 21, 2012

Shockey denies Sapp claim he blew whistle on Saints

Former NFL player and current NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp says free agent tight end Jeremy Shockey is the whistle-blower who alerted the league to the New Orleans Saints' bounty program.

Sapp first made the accusation on Twitter on Wednesday, and later repeated his stance on the NFL Network. Sapp said he did not receive his information from anyone at the league, but from a trusted source close to the situation.

Shockey, who played for the Panthers last season, adamantly denied the charge on his Twitter account.

Shockey played for the Saints from 2008-2010 and caught the winning touchdown in the franchise's only Super Bowl appearance in February 2010. He would have been in New Orleans for the first two years of the bounty program, which the NFL says was in operation from 2009-2011.

This is the second week in a row Shockey has been involved in a Twitter flap.

Former New York Giants receiver Amani Toomer, who played with Shockey in New York, called him a “bad teammate” and “worse person” on his Twitter account last week. Toomer was responding to a report in a New York newspaper that Shockey was interested in returning to the Giants.

Shockey, who will turn 32 before next season, was released by the Saints in 2010 in favor of Jimmy Graham. He signed a 1-year deal with the Panthers worth $4 million, and caught a career-low 37 passes last season while sharing time with Greg Olsen.

The Panthers allowed Shockey to become a free agent last week, but could have an interest in bringing him back at a reduced rate.

--Joseph Person



Posted by Observer Sports on March 21, 2012 at 08:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Cam Newton surprised about bounty system

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said news of the Saints' bounty program caught him by surprise.

Los Angeles Times NFL writer Sam Farmer caught up with Newton last week during a break in the shooting of a Gatorade commercial in L.A.

The interview was taped  last week, before the league's report Wednesday that stated Newton was one of four quarterbacks targeted by the Saints, along with Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner.

"It caught me by surprise. But with me knowing some of the guys on the Saints, I know they are good guys," Newton said on the Times' video. "So you can't really believe all what the media makes of it. But it's still, golly, why is this being mentioned? Like they say, where there's smoke there's fire. But I just can't understand it."

In two games against the Panthers last season, Saints' defensive linemen were flagged for three personal foul penalties for hits on Newton, who was not injured in either game.

"If I'm a running back, if I'm a receiver, if I'm a linebacker, if I'm a D-tackle, you always have to respect that other person's career because they're feeding families just like I'm trying to feed my parents," Newton told the Times.

"And if you take those joints, those ligaments away by taking a cheap shot, it's bigger than one, little 'Yes, we took down their starting quarterback.' This quarterback can't even throw no more because you took a late hit on him. Yeah, it's 15 yards. But you're limiting this guy's whole career."

--Joseph Person



Posted by Observer Sports on March 21, 2012 at 05:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)