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October 31, 2012

DeAngelo: I've never thought of leaving the Panthers

DeAngelo Williams addressed the media for the first time since he became the subject of trade talk last week.

Williams, the Panthers former starting running back now relegated to backup duty, said he doesn't pay attention to trade talk because it's out of his control. A team source has indicated to the Observer that at least one playoff-contending team has reached out to the Panthers about a possible trade for Williams.

"I’ve never really thought about leaving, so the thought of staying a Panther never really crossed my mind because the thought of leaving never crossed my mind," Williams said. "In my mind, I’m going to continue being a Panther until told otherwise. So those thoughts aren’t there."

When asked if he wants to stay with the Panthers, Williams returned with a question of his own.

"Do I want to stay here? What kind of question is that? They gave me my opportunity," he said

"Does it look like I want to be somewhere else? I’ll let you guys (the media) answer that."

Also a subject of trade talk has been veteran wide receiver Steve Smith. Head coach Ron Rivera said the Panthers had not fielded calls for Smith, and Smith said that he will be in a Panthers uniform until he is cut or retires from the game.

Rivera, however, did not rule out the possibility of trading any players--Williams, Smith or anyone--by the Thursday trade deadline.

"Well you never know what’s going on but we’re not looking to trade anybody," Rivera said. "You’re really not. We need everybody we’ve got and we’ll see what happens when we get to Thursday."

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 31, 2012 at 03:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

October 30, 2012

Source: Trade talk involving Smith was preliminary

Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is not the only high-profile offensive player drawing interest before Thursday's trade deadline.

An NFC team inquired about the availability of veteran wideout Steve Smith on Sunday, but there has been no trade offer and no follow-up talks, a team source said Tuesday.

Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported that multiple teams had inquired about Smith, who signed a three-year contract extension in April.

A trade involving Williams is more likely, although not imminent. The Panthers have $43.5 million in guaranteed money committed to Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who has replaced Williams as the starter.

Multiple playoff-contending teams called the Panthers last week to inquire about a possible trade for Williams, team sources said. The league moved the trade deadline back two days because of the superstorm Sandy.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 30, 2012 at 08:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Chudzinski says Gettis looks "rusty"

Panthers coach Ron Rivera has made it sound like adding wideout David Gettis to the active roster was a fait accompli.

But based on what offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and others in the organization are saying, that might not be the case.

Gettis, who missed the entire 2011 season following ACL surgery, began this season on the physically unable to perform list with a hamstring injury.

He began practicing two weeks ago. The Panthers have until Wednesday to add Gettis to the active roster or he must remain on the PUP list the rest of the season.

"We just need to get him in and be working him in," Chudzinski said. "I think he was rusty. He’s still kind of working through. I’ve seen him improve in the last couple of weeks. I don’t know if he’s ready there yet, but I see him moving in that direction."

If Gettis goes on the 53-man roster, Armanti Edwards could be on the chopping block.

Stay tuned.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 30, 2012 at 02:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

October 29, 2012

Rivera: No plans to make moves before trade deadline

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said Monday that, to his knowledge, the team isn't looking to make moves before Tuesday's trade deadline.

Rivera has said since the bye the Panthers are in an evaluation process -- one that has included roster cuts and personnel changes. But he said Carolina isn't actively pursuing the trade market.

"We've got to sit here and see if somebody does call, but we're not looking to move anybody or send anybody away or try to get anybody out there," Rivera said. "I don't think we have a lot to give in terms of trying to trade for players."

Running back DeAngelo Williams has been the subject of a potential trade. A team source told the Observer that at least one playoff-contending team has reached out to the Panthers about possibly trading for the back.

Rivera said he has not discussed a Williams trade with anyone and referred questions to Brandon Beane, who has been handling personnel duties since Marty Hurney was fired last week. He declined to discuss the potential of a Williams trade further.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 29, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (43)

October 28, 2012

Gould FG wins it for Chicago, 23-22

Score: Bears 23, Panthers 22

Scoring play: A game-winning 41-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.

Drive: 9 plays, 55 yards, 2:27


Score: Panthers 22, Bears 20

Scoring play: A 45-yard field goal by Justin Medlock.

Drive: 11 plays, 53 yards, 4:17.

Key play: On third-and-short from the Carolina 45-yard line, Newton faked a rush left and went bootleg right to pick up 16 yards and get the first down and into Bears' territory.

Time of game: 2:27 in the fourth quarter.

Worth mentioning: Again, the Panthers are 1-9 under Ron Rivera in games decided by one score.


Score: Bears 20, Panthers 19

Scoring play: A 25-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tim Jennings.

Key play: Steve Smith fell down on his route as Newton looked for him out of shotgun. Tim Jennings snagged the ball for his second interception of the game along the far sideline and went into the end zone untouched.

Time of game: 6:44 in the fourth quarter.

Worth mentioning: The Bears now have six takeaways that have been returned for a touchdown.


Score: Panthers 19, Bears 14

Scoring play: A 12-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Kellen Davis.

Drive: 7 plays, 38 yards, 3:26

Key play: Cutler hit Brandon Marshall for a 15-yard gain on 3-and-8 to perserve the drive. The Bears were already in four-down territory down two scores, but Marshall's catch avoided that.

Time of game: 6:52 in the fourth quarter.

Worth mentioning: Cam Newton has 300 passing yards for the first time all season. But the Panthers are 0-3 when Newton has done that previously.


Score: Panthers 19, Bears 7

Scoring play: A 43-yard field goal by Justin Medlock.

Drive: 8 plays, 63 yards, 4:02

Key play: A 47-yard pass from Cam Newton to Steve Smith. On first down, Newton passed a deep ball to Smith along the near sideline. Smith pulled it down at the Bears' 25 to get the Panthers within striking distance.

Time of game: 1:30 in the third.

Worth mentioning: Entering the game, Medlock had just two field goal attempts all season (both makes). Today, he has four (34, 31, 22 and 43 yards).


Score: Panthers 16, Bears 7

Scoring play: A 22-yard field goal by Justin Medlock.

Drive: 12 plays, 90 yards, 6:32

Key play: On 3-and-10 near midfield, Newton found Mike Tolbert sitting in the middle of the field but short of the sticks. Tolbert shook two Chicago would-be tacklers and picked up 15 yards for the first down.

Time of game: 6:47 in the third quarter.

Worth mentioning: The Bears have -10 passing yards so far this game. Cutler has been sacked six times this game, all in the first half. Carolina leads in total yardage 306-54.

--Jonathan Jones 

Posted by Observer Sports on October 28, 2012 at 03:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

Panthers sack Cutler six times, lead 13-7 at half

CHICAGO – After an emotional week that included the firing of ex-general manager Marty Hurney, the Panthers used a strong defensive effort Sunday to build a 13-7 halftime lead over the Bears on Sunday.

The Panthers got after Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in the first half, sacking him six times and forcing him to fumble twice – once deep in Bears' territory to set up a score.

With the Bears' facing a third-and-21 from their 32, defensive end Charles Johnson came free from Cutler's blind side, hit him and stripped him of the ball. Panthers' rookie end Frank Alexander recovered at the Bears' 16 with 33 seconds left in the first quarter.

Three plays later – on third-and-3 – quarterback Cam Newton scrambled and was headed for the end zone when safety Major Wright dislodged the ball.

Wideout Louis Murphy recovered in the end zone to give the Panthers a 10-7 lead.

On their next possession, the Panthers held the ball for 8 minutes, 19 seconds, driving 58 yards on 17 carries before settling for a Justin Medlock field goal from 31 yards that put them up 13-7.

It was the second field goal for Medlock, who had attempted only two field goals before Sunday.

The Bears had minus-20 net passing yards in the first half, and were outgained 226-44 in total yardage.

Greg Hardy had three of the six sacks, which are one short of a team record for a game.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 28, 2012 at 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Another Medlock field goal gives Carolina a 13-7 lead

Score: Panthers 13, Bears 7

Scoring play: A 31-yard field goal by Justin Medlock.

Drive: 17 plays, 58 yards, 8:19 

Key play: On third-and-long at the Carolina 45, Cam Newton sought out Steve Smith along the near sideline. Tim Jennings was flagged for illegal contact as the ball sailed out of bounds. The penalty gave Carolina first down and extended the drive.

Time of game: 4:36 in the second quarter.

Worth mentioning: The Panthers are usuing DeAngelo Williams and the Wildcat more this game. He's taken snaps in the Wildcat twice for 10 yards. In the previous six games this season, Williams had just two carries for 6 yards out of that formation.


Score: Panthers 10, Bears 7

Scoring play: An 8-yard rush by Cam Newton to the 1, but then he fumbled into the end zone, which was recovered by WR Louis Murphy.

Drive: 3 plays, 16 yards, :48.

Key play: On third-and-long, Jay Cutler took a sack inside the Bears' 30. Charles Johnson delivered the hit and caused the fumble, and Frank Alexander fell on the ball at the Chicago 16.

Time of game: 14:30 in the second quarter.

Worth mentioning: At the end of the first quarter, the Bears had -10 yards passing. Carolina had 119 yards of total offense to the Bears' 34.


Score: Bears 7, Panthers 3

Scoring play: A 34-yardyard field goal by Justin Medlock.

Drive: 5 plays, 64 yards, 2:31.

Key play: A 62-yard pass from Cam Newton to Brandon LaFell. Newton found LaFell over the middle and the third-year receiver took it inside the Chicago red zone for a first down.

Time of game: 2:01 in the first quarter.

Worth mentioing: Right guard Jeff Byers is having a rough day. He was called as an illegal man downfield earlier in the game that was declined, then got beat on a third down that eventually led to a Newton sack. On that drive, an offensive holding negated a Stewart rush and set the Panthers back 10 yards.


Score: Bears 7, Panthers 0

Scoring play: A 13-yard touchdown rush by Matt Forte up the middle.

Drive: 4 plays, 49 yards, 1:52.

Key play: A 16-yard rush on first down by Forte. The Bears took a rushing play left, something they haven't done much of early in the game, and defensive end Frank Alexander got pushed inside. That allowed Forte to find the edge for 16 yards before free safety Haruki Nakamura tackled him in the open field.

Time of game: 4:32 in the first quarter.

Worth mentioning: The Panthers have been lining quarterback Cam Newton under center much more than in games past. He started the game under center and has been there on five of the offense's 12 snaps so far. Jonathan Stewart has played the first two series with DeAngelo Williams on the sideline.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 28, 2012 at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Panther inactives vs. Bears

Plenty of familiar names are back on the inactive list for today's game against the Chicago Bears.

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen, KR/PR Joe Adams, S D.J. Campbell, CB James Dockery, T Bruce Campbell and defensive ends Antawn Applewhite and Thomas Keiser are all inactive for the Panthers today.

Keiser didn't make the trip as he continues to nurse two injured shoulders. Applwhite has a hamstring injury.

Adams hasn't played since Week Three when he fumbled a kickoff and muffed a punt against the New York Giants.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 28, 2012 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 27, 2012

Ziemba suspended 4 games for violating PED policy

Panthers offensive lineman Lee Ziemba has been suspended for four games after testing positive for a banned stimulant, Ziemba said Saturday in a statement released by his agent.

Ziemba, who is on injured reserve following surgery in August, said he never knowingly ingested a performance-enhancing substance. But Ziemba has decided not to appeal the suspension, and will begin serving it immediately.

Ziemba will forfeit $116,250 – a fourth of his salary – while serving the suspension.

Ziemba, the Panthers' seventh-round pick in 2011 from Auburn, did not identify the substance in his statement. Attempts to reach him for further comment were unsuccessful.

In his statement, Ziemba said he learned of the positive test in mid-September, about a month after tearing his lateral meniscus in training camp.

I was extremely confused and upset when I was informed of this result since I have never knowingly ingested any performance-enhancing substance,” Ziemba said. “My training regimen has included supplements that I carefully chose and believed to be free from any prohibited substance under the NFL/NFLPA policies.

After extensive discussions and careful consideration of the terms of the NFL/NFLPA policies, I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation.”

Ziemba is the second Panthers' player to violate the league's PED policy this year. Defensive tackle Andre Neblett tested positive during the offseason and was suspended for the first four games of the season.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 27, 2012 at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 26, 2012

Stewart will start vs. Bears

Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart will make his second consecutive start Sunday against Chicago, although coach Ron Rivera plans to get DeAngelo Williams more work than a week ago.

Williams, the franchise's all-time rushing leader, was on the field for five of the Panthers' 62 snaps against Dallas, finishing with 2 carries for 4 yards. Stewart carried 10 times for 35 yards as the Panthers sought to establish more of a traditional rushing attack.

Rivera said he wants his backs to get in more of a rhythm, rather than substituting them every play or every couple of plays like the Panthers have done since Stewart arrived in 2008 to form the so-called “Double Trouble” rushing tandem.

Rivera also said the Panthers are not moving completely away from the zone read concept. But he made it clear he wants the Panthers to rely on more of a standard rushing attack.

The message being we want to pound the ball—well, not really pound it—but we want one guy to develop a rhythm,” Rivera said. “And then when he gets hot, ride him.”

On the injury front, DE Antwan Applewhite (knee) is out for the game, and second-year DE Thomas Keiser is doubtful with issues with both of his elbows.

Starting DE Charles Johnson (hip) was limited during Friday's practice, but is listed as probable. DT Dwan Edwards (hand), TE Ben Hartsock (calf) and CB Captain Munnerlyn (leg) are all probable, as well.

--Joseph Person



Posted by Observer Sports on October 26, 2012 at 01:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)