New-look Panthers to hit field
By Mike Cranston
CHARLOTTE ó The Carolina Panthers spent four months reshaping their roster. Veterans were jettisoned, a slew of free-agents were signed and a bold draft-day trade brought in two first-round draft picks aimed at improving a stagnant offense.
Now the Panthers get the first look at their remade team today when a three-day minicamp begins at Bank of America Stadium.
iEverybody has done so much work signing free agents and with the draft choices, and you have your players that were here last year come back,î general manager Marty Hurney said. iI think everybody gets excited to see guys out there for the first time after a few months.î
Since coach John Fox and the Panthers finished a 7-9 season, numerous big decisions were made. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins was traded to the New York Jets. Linebacker Dan Morgan, running back DeShaun Foster and center Justin Hartwig were released. Defensive end Mike Rucker retired.
The Panthers then signed receivers D.J. Hackett and Muhsin Muhammad, linebacker Landon Johnson and a host of big linemen on both sides of the ball.
Last weekend, the Panthers made perhaps the biggest gamble of the Hurney-Fox era, trading next yearís first-round draft pick and two other selections this year to Philadelphia to get an extra first-round choice. They used it to take offensive tackle Jeff Otah of Pittsburgh. Heíll be paired with running back Jonathan Stewart of Oregon, taken six picks earlier.
iI like the looks of it on paper, and we have put a lot of work into this,î Fox said. iJust like a college coach after recruiting season, the prognosticators will pick how you did, but really the reality is until you start playing you donít know.î
While Fox has said heís been encouraged after watching Jake Delhomme throw, heíll be held out of the minicamp as he slowly recovers from reconstructive elbow surgery. Stewart, who underwent toe surgery one month ago, will also sit out.
That means Matt Moore will likely take first-team snaps and DeAngelo Williams will be the No. 1 running back. Theyíll be playing in front of a line that will have someone different in all five spots.
Jordan Gross is expected to move from right to left tackle and Travelle Wharton from left tackle to left guard. Otah will be worked in at right tackle. Ryan Kalil is expected to take over at center. Newly acquired Keydrick Vincent is the front-runner at right guard.
The defense also looks different. Charles Johnson, a third-round pick last year, will likely begin as Ruckerís replacement at defensive end. Damione Lewis replaces Jenkins at the defensive tackle spot next to Maake Kemoeatu.
Landon Johnson is expected to unseat Naíil Diggs at outside linebacker, and third-round pick Charles Godfrey is projected to start right away at free safety.
By Sarah Hall Salisbury Post Tabu proprietor Sean Sindle seems unconcerned that few people know about his night spot. When... read more