The afternoon session didn’t sound quite as damaging to the players body parts or to the available pieces to move around on the field for the Carolina Panthers.
Let’s start this evening with the Charlotte Observer and Charles Chandler.
Cornerback Chris Gamble tweaked his left hamstring defending a long pass by quarterback Matt Moore.
Gamble’s upper leg was wrapped by trainer Ryan Vermillion. Gamble sat out the remainder of the practice. Team officials said that was precautionary and the injury is not believed to be serious.
Another minor “tweak” suffered by one of the players. Let’s hope it’s the last one.
There was brief thunder and lightning near the start of practice, but the clouds passed and the practice was able to run its full course.
Cute scene on the field after practice: Steve Smith playfully rolling around on the field playing with his children.
Is this a ploy by Smith to market himself as a family man or just Smitty being Smitty?
Oh-by-the-way note of the day: Julius Peppers’ long beard has been trimmed significantly.
What is this? Julius, I hope you’re not Samson! Was that beard trimmer given to you by a lady by the name of…Delilah perhaps?
Let’s move on to Steve Reed of the Gaston Gazette.
HOT TOPIC: Rookie running back Jonathan Stewart is making progress in his return from turf toe surgery, but said he still lacks the explosiveness he had in college.
“Going to certain sides and everything, that’s what we’re working on right now,” said Stewart, the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft. “… The whole explosiveness, some of that stuff is kind of limited because of my toe.”
Stewart doesn’t seem too worried.
He just keeps reminding himself that he’s only been practicing for 12 days. He had surgery in March and didn’t participate in any of the team’s minicamps, so it’s still early.
When asked if doctors have given him an idea of when he might be 100 percent, Stewart said, “I really don’t know. I hope soon. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be soon.”
He’s optimistic about playing in Saturday night’s preseason opener against Indianapolis, but isn’t sure if he’ll be cleared by the medical staff to participate. Coach John Fox said that decision hasn’t been determined.
“I’m just kind of antsy about going out there and just playing again to my full potential,” Stewart said. “It’s been since November (when he first injured it) since I’ve been able to do that. I’m feeling kind of antsy, but patience is a virtue we all desire.”
The Panthers have limited Stewart’s reps at camp to keep him from rushing back too soon and re-injuring the toe.
“He’s fine. We’re just being precautionary,” Fox said. “He’s progressing just fine. He’s getting plenty of reps. He’s in all the meetings.”
I sure do hope that limiting Stewart’s carries gives him enough time to get healed up in time for the start of the season. This is becoming troubling for a fan waiting to see what the big kid can do.
NOTABLE: Jon Beason is getting used to the notion of having defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac in his ear while he’s on the field.
An NFL rule change this year allows one defensive player to wear a microphone in his helmet to receive signals from the sidelines, just as the quarterback does.
“It’s been fun,” Beason said. “You get the calls faster and it gives you more chance to think about it and talk about it with other guys and make sure you are on the same page.”
However, Beason said he still needs to know the hand signals as a backup.
“Yeah, there is a little glitch in it because it times out after 15 seconds and the play clock is 35 seconds,” Beason said. “So the offense can wait 15 seconds and call their play and then you have to get (hand) signals from the sidelines anyway.”
Breaker one-nine! This responsibility has been given to our second-year linebacker? That should tell you something about Jon Beason! Middle linebacker or not, and normal for a guy in that position to handle the calls or not, Beason is proving himself day in and day out.
DEPTH CHART WATCH: A few readers asked me why Adam Seward is practicing with the first team with Jon Beason out. That’s simple – Seward is No. 2 on the depth chart; rookie Dan Connor is No. 3. Connor did get some reps with the starters earlier in the week, but that was when Beason and Seward were out.
I’m beginning to wish we could see what Connor could do with the starters full time. Number three on the depth chart behind Seward? Ouch!
ON THE RISE: It will be nearly impossible for him to make the roster, but undrafted rookie running back Decori Birmingham (5-10, 210) has looked fast and quick in practice. I guess we shouldn’t be completely surprised since Birmingham had a productive college career at Arkansas and has bounced around NFL training camps since 2005. I look forward to watching him in the fourth quarter Saturday night.
WHAT WE LEARNED: That it can still get pretty hot here in Spartanburg. Temperatures reached into triple digits for the afternoon session, making it pretty uncomfortable outside.
“We deal with it every year,” Fox said. “Our medical people, and I say this all the time, do a fantastic job. They do a good job with our players in rehabbing. They do a great job in every area, and heat is one of them. We are set up very well for it and we take steps as far as getting them out of the heat, getting them cooled off and giving them plenty of fluids. (Head athletic trainer) Ryan (Vermillion) and his staff do a fantastic job.”
For anyone who doesn’t live here in this area, it has been hot enough, as Tom Sorensen told me “to make a manquin sweat.”
PLAY OF THE DAY: Matt Moore came through with the play of the day, hitting tight end Jeff King on a perfectly thrown ball in the right corner of the end zone in the morning session. In the afternoon, Moore hooked up with Muhsin Muhammad on a deep route for a long score.
And thus begins the cries of the Matt Moore faithful to put him in the game!
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS: Wednesday night was family night. The Marriott Hotel here in Spartanburg was packed with players’ wives and children.
Maybe I was just being a jerk earlier. This might explain why Steve Smith was rolling around with his kids.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: For those curious about next week’s practice schedule, it will look like this: the team will practice Monday at 9:10 a.m. and 6:40 p.m., Tuesday at 3:10 p.m., and Wednesday at 9:10 a.m.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – Black boot seen on middle linebacker Jon Beason’s ankle on Wednesday. Don’t worry, it’s just precautionary and Beason said it isn’t that bad and he’ll be just fine.
IN MY OPINION: I continue to be amazed at how much poise Moore has in the pocket for a second-year guy.He seems so comfortable back there, like he’s been playing there all of his life. I think the future is real bright for this kid, but he’ll have to bide his time. At 33, Jake Delhomme still has plenty of good years left.
And those cries from the Matt Moore faithful just got louder.