The Carolina Panthers held only one practice session on Thursday. There was bad news, however as Ryne Robinson was carted off the field.
Panthers kick returner and backup receiver Ryne Robinson injured his left knee in practice Thursday and was carted off field. He went up high to make a catch while being double covered by safety Nate Salley and cornerback Richard Marshall. After he landed, he was holding his left knee. He was helped off the field and trainer Ryan Vermillion tested Robinson’s knee for stability. Robinson got up and walked gingerly, then was carried to a tent where he sat for about 15 minutes with his leg extended before being carted off.
With Robinson out, rookie running back Jonathan Stewart got his first opportunity to return kicks during practice.
Also, the Panthers added to their defensive tackle depth by signing Michael Marquardt, a rookie from Arizona State. To make room on the roster, Carolina cut center Pat Ross.
If the team really wanted to keep J-Stew fresh by keeping him away from kick returns, the injury to Robinson is terrible news. A change was coming eventually if the team was looking to improve on special teams but you never want change to come like this.
The other day Jordan Gross spoke up about how Julius Peppers was looking in camp. Finally, Julius spoke up.
“It is a new beginning,” Peppers said Thursday in his first interview with the media since the end of last season. “It’s a new season. I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Peppers seems genuinely excited about the change to the right side, which the since-retired Mike Rucker had occupied since Peppers came into the league as the No. 2 overall pick in 2002.
“I’m comfortable over there,” Peppers said. “I’m comfortable on the right side. I played it in college. I played it in high school, the times I did play defense in high school. The left-handed stance is my natural stance. The left hand is my strong hand. There are a lot more moves and power available on that side. I’m excited about being back on the right side.”
Think back a little. All that talk about Peppers heading to the Broncos just because he was seen at a Nuggets game was bunk, crap! One good thing happened to the big guy out in Arizona – he found football again. WHEW! Glad he isn’t ready to go join the NBA!
“I put a lot of time and effort into getting in shape and being ready to come to camp, getting ready for the season,” said Peppers, who is listed as 6-foot-7 and 283 pounds.
He feels like the hard work paid off.
“I feel better this year. I feel a little stronger. I feel a little more powerful, faster and quicker. I’ve really focused on being better in all areas, not one particular thing. I want to be better everywhere overall.”
Thanks for talking, J-Pepp! We all needed to hear that you’re ready to bring it this season!
NOTABLE: The Panthers planned to run live goal line drills during Thursday’s practice, but were forced to alter their schedule when they ran out of defensive tackles.
Instead, they worked on “thud” drills, where players can hit, but aren’t allowed to tackle. (Gaston Gazette)
The injury to Ian Scott had a major impact already.
ON THE RISE: For the fourth straight day Keydrick Vincent worked with the first team at right guard, so you have to wonder if the Panthers have finally settled on him as their starter. Offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson likes to decide on a lineup early and then stick with it so the starting five can develop some cohesiveness.
Four straight days! Move over, Toniu Fonoti! Vincent could have this spot in the bag.
WHAT WE LEARNED: D.J. Hackett is proving to be a reliable weapon in the red zone. Mostly working from the slot, Hackett continues to find a way to get open and catch touchdowns. “He’s been around,” Fox said. “He’s played the game. He’s started in this League. He does have a feel for it and he’s a good possession receiver and he has a good feel for coverage.”
Don’t let this fool you. Moose may still win the starting job while Hackett is used on third downs and in the red zone from the slot. This we can be sure of, though – the battle for that number two WR spot isn’t settled yet.
INJURY UPDATE: The Panthers got good news on defensive tackle Ian Scott, who only has a sprained MCL. Fox said Scott is “week-to-week,” and added no surgery is planned right now.
“It’s better than what it could have been, so that’s good,” Scott said.
Other than the four defensive tackles sitting out, linebacker Adam Seward (abdomen), offensive tackle Charles Spencer (knee) and running back LaBrandon Toefield (shoulder) were the only players who sat out.