It sounds like the Carolina Panthers nearly took the day off on Thursday. It was a rather light practice. Here are the notes from Steve Reed of the Gaston Gazette.
HOT TOPIC: Jake Delhomme said the team has done a “fantastic job” of putting last week’s altercation between Steve Smith and Ken Lucas behind them.
“That was a rough deal and everybody knows that,” Delhomme said. “I really truly believe we have the right group of guys in the right areas to get everything out in the open. Guys talked and Steve knew he did wrong.”
Delhomme credits Lucas with helping the team heal.
“I think the big thing out of all of it was Ken Lucas. For him to get up here and (talk about it), I think guys got to release a lot of emotions by listening to Ken and feeling how he felt,” Delhomme said. “But things have gone smooth. Those are times where you can make or break a team… There (can be) anger and whatnot, but there hasn’t been any of that. I think you see it on the practice field. Guys are still working and still battling and I think that is a great sign. It really and truly is.”
Interesting. I had heard some buzz that their was a separation in the team – defense versus offense which would have been a natural thing. My question is whether Jake and all the players are just repeating the company slogan or if they truly believe that everything is good to go.
Delhomme was also asked about whether the incident might soften Smith, who is now forced to be on his best behavior.
“I know the question you’re saying, but when Steve came out of his mom, he had that edge,” Delhomme said. “I truly believe that. Guys feed off Steve when Steve plays – offensively, defensively, everybody feeds off Steve. That is just my opinion. I know when the lights come on he will still be the same Steve.
“To me, that is innate. You either have it or you don’t have it. I truly believe somebody can’t work to get that way. You either want it or you don’t want it.”
I don’t know that anything would ever soften Steve Smith. Maybe he thinks twice about punching anybody in the nose but when he’s on the field, he won’t be any less competitive. On this one, I assure you, I trust Jake’s answer.
There was further info on our earlier discussion of Jon Beason’s role on the team as a leader.
NOTABLE: Although he’s just 23, Jon Beason is looked upon by his teammates as a leader. In fact, rookie Dan Connor said he regularly goes to Beason for advice.
“I know (he’s young), but he’s definitely got leadership ability,” Connor said. “If you didn’t know it you’d think he’d been in the league nine, 10 years.”
Just as I suspected, Beason is THE MAN!
DEPTH CHART WATCH: With Ryne Robinson, still at least a couple of weeks away from getting back on the field, the Panthers are still exploring options in the return game. Jason Carter and Ricardo Colclough have been returning kickoffs, while Carter and Darren Toney have worked on punt returns.
The Panthers seem to have backed off on the idea of using rookie Jonathan Stewart on kickoff returns.
Don’t be surprised if the Panthers sign a returner at some point.
Anything that happens in the return game that helps to improve those miserable stats from last season is good but Robinson’s experience could prove to be valuable. I’m still not sold on him as the main returner, though.
ON THE RISE: With starters Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble nursing injuries, Colclough and Richard Marshall worked as the first team cornerbacks on Thursday.
We’re at the end of the depth chart. That’s pretty much it if Colclough is lining up as a starter.
WHAT WE LEARNED: John Fox won’t rap.
Carolina’s rookies performed a rap show on Wednesday night as part of the annual rookie talent show at family night. However, Fox said he didn’t join in.
“No, that would have brought down the house,” Fox said. “It’s too nice of a gym and I didn’t want to tear it up.”
I would pay at least a dollar to see John Fox rap. Brining the house down might not be totally accurate. Making everybody laugh until they cried and maybe peed in their pants might be more suitable.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Even when Smith messes up, he still has the ability to make a play.
On Thursday, Smith jumped too early to make a catch downfield, but still had the concentration to make the catch with his forearm on the way down despite having Colclough draped all over him.
Will Smitty soften up? Nope!
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS: Former Panthers tight ends coach Don Breaux took in practice from the sidelines.
Breaux officially retired from coaching two weeks ago after 42 years in the profession. Breaux previously retired from coaching with the Panthers but came out of retirement a few years back to join Joe Gibbs’ staff in Washington.
Breaux, who had surgery to fix a back problem, looks 20 years younger than he did when he coached the Panthers. He now stands upright rather than hunched over.
In other news, the Panthers had a light practice Thursday, working in shorts. They worked extensively on two-minute drills with the offense trying to get into field goal range.
THEY SAID IT: “I don’t know, but I think he’ll do fine. He’s going from Green Bay to New York. If anything I think the off-the-field acclimation will probably be the most different for him. But he really stays to himself. I don’t think he’s going to be like a Joe Namath or anything like that. He’s a bright guy. He’s really into his family, a country boy playing football. He’ll be fine.”
–LB Na’il Diggs on how former teammate Brett Favre will make the transition from the Packers to the Jets.
Diggs knows the guy so I suppose he cares what happens to Favre. I can assure you there are a lot of us out there who really couldn’t care less.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: The Charles Spencer experiment is over.
Carolina waived Spencer, a former third-round pick of the Houston Texans, on Thursday. Coach John Fox said it had nothing to do with Spencer’s history of knee problems.
“It had nothing to do with the knee, it had to do with conditioning and weight,” Fox said.
The Panthers have not filled his roster spot.
Pretty plainly spoken. He came in out of shape so he’s out of camp and football.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – Number of Indianapolis Colts starters who sat out last week’s Hall of Fame Game. The Colts (0-1) are expected to have a similar number of players out this week.
We’ll learn a lot about the backups Saturday provided we’re satisfied with watching them play against other backups.
INJURY UPDATE: Among those who did not practice Thursday included receivers Ryne Robinson (knee) and D.J. Hackett (ankle), linebacker Jon Beason (ankle), defensive tackle Ian Scott (knee), cornerbacks Chris Gamble (hamstring) and Ken Lucas (nose), safety Chris Harris (groin) and tight ends Dante Rosario (hamstring), Gary Barnidge (glute) and Chris Conklin (ankle).
And there’s your list of those who will sit out Saturday. I think Steve Reed shares that opinion.
IN MY OPINION: I think all of the players who did not practice on Thursday will not play on Saturday for the Panthers. There is no sense in rushing anyone back this early in the preseason.
ON TAP FOR TODAY: The Panthers have a walkthrough practice today at 9:10 a.m.
It’ll be a light day. We’ll update you with as much info as we can get.