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Panthers simplify defense

By MIKE CRANSTON
AP Sports Writer

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers have made things a little simpler on defense.

Cornerback Ken Lucas approves of the new philosophy.

“It just allows us to go out there and play,” Lucas said Sunday. “I don’t want to get into the intricate part of the defense and what they have done, but they just allow us to get out and play and take a lot of the thinking out the defense.

“Really this game is very simple ó it’s you against the guy in front of you and may the best man win. It’s not about trying to trick another team. That is what we have done so far.”

Coach John Fox insisted the changes were part of moves made during every offseason. Yet he acknowledged the retirement of veterans Mike Rucker and Dan Morgan played a role in the decision.

“We don’t have those guys now and I think with youthful guys come inexperience,” Fox said. “You do got to simplify some just so they can operate and play. You can’t be out there thinking in this league.”

Lucas said the tweaks will help third-round pick Charles Godfrey, who is working with the starters at free safety.

“He’s a good listener. He didn’t come in with an arrogant attitude or anything,” Lucas said. “He’s willing to learn. Plus by them simplifying the system it cuts down a lot of mental mistakes that some safeties who have been in here in the past might have made because there was a lot of thinking in the past.”

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GOINGS GONE: Running back and special teamer Nick Goings missed practice Sunday with a sprained right ankle suffered a day earlier.

“He didn’t remember how he did it,” Fox said. “It kind of got sore in the break between the practice in the A.M. and last night’s. He came over and tried to get it loosened up. It was a lot better today.”

Goings was seen in a walking boot on Sunday. The tightlipped Fox was in midseason form by announcing Goings was “day-to-day” ó a phrase he uses for every injury.

Goings is attempting to come back after playing in only four games last year because of a severe concussion.

Receiver Josh Davis (calf) also missed Sunday’s workout.

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OBSERVATIONS: Steve Smith hasn’t lost his speed, or his moves.

Smith made several spectacular catches during Sunday’s lone afternoon workout, including an acrobatic diving, one-handed grab. Earlier he made a quick spin move to blow past Lucas.

Rookie Jonathan Stewart showed some flashes of the power running back they hope he’ll be. He darted through the line of scrimmage and then ran into safety Terrence Holt, who bounced off him as Stewart rumbled several more yards.

DeAngelo Williams, wearing a dark visor, continued to work with the first team at running back.

Reserve offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner did some long-snapping in place of Jason Kyle. Most of Hangartner’s snaps were on the mark, but there was one ugly one that bounced on the ground before reaching punter Jason Baker.

Sixth-round pick Nick Hayden was the target of defensive line coach Sal Sunseri, who got on him hard for flaws during individual drills.

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EXTRA POINTS: QB Jake Delhomme practiced at full speed and continued to show no problems from elbow surgery. … After the first weekend of single-game ticket sales, the Panthers announced sellouts for the home opener against Chicago on Sept. 14, New Orleans on Oct. 19 and the Monday night game against Tampa Bay on Dec. 8. A team spokesman said the Denver game on Dec. 14 is close to a sellout. … The Panthers practice twice on Monday, at 9:10 a.m. and 6:40 p.m.
 
 

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