Photos, report from Panthers training camp

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 27, 2008

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By MIKE CRANSTON
AP Sports Writer

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Training camp used to be a chore for Jake Delhomme.

The chronic pain in the quarterback’s right elbow meant it took a long time to warm up before every Carolina Panthers practice. Then he’d have to ice the elbow after almost every workout.

After his first training camp practice Saturday following reconstructive surgery, Delhomme’s routine changed.

“The last few years after the first practice I iced right away,” Delhomme said. “Now that you brought it up, that’s the first time I’ve thought about it. I just walked past the trainer. I didn’t even think going and putting ice on my arm.”

The Panthers plan to limit the number of throws Delhomme makes each day, but he’s not expected to sit out any workouts.

Delhomme underwent Tommy John surgery last fall to replace a ligament in his elbow after he was injured in Week 3 last season. His rehabilitation has gone according to plan, and Delhomme is enjoying being pain-free.

“I will ice, there’s no doubt. But that’s more just trying to stay ahead of the game,” Delhomme said. “We’ll see. Things went well this morning.”

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OTAH’S DEBUT: There was no way Jeff Otah was going to miss any practice time in a contract dispute.

The Panthers rookie tackle, taken with the 19th pick in the draft, told agent Eric Metz Friday to make sure he got a deal done. They then agreed late Friday on a five-year, $14 million contract that includes $8.9 million in guaranteed money.

“Just wrap it up, let’s go. Just take what they give me,” Otah said he told his agent. “I’m happy that I’m situated and I don’t have to hold out and I’m here with my teammates getting better and help us win.”

The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Otah began his first NFL practice as Carolina’s starting right tackle. The Pittsburgh product had an impressive debut stymieing defensive end Tyler Brayton.

“I think Otah, he looks like he has that streak in him. And that streak, I mean he has that nastiness to him,” Delhomme said. “It’s a good thing. It’s what you want as an O-lineman. I think he has that and I think catching a glimpse of him today, you can kind of tell.”

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FONOTI IN FRONT: Toniu Fonoti took the early lead in one of the most competitive positions of the preseason.

Fonoti lined up as the starting right guard ahead of Keydrick Vincent, Milford Brown, Jeremy Bridges, Evan Mathis and others vying for the job on a revamped offensive line.

“It’s not set in stone yet. I’ve still got to work for it,” said Fonoti, who is attempting an NFL comeback following weight issues. “I still have got to do the things I need to do in order to keep that spot.”

Fonoti was signed by Carolina in March. The former second-round pick was out of the league last year after being released by Atlanta before training camp. He played only six games in 2006 and three games a year earlier with Miami, Minnesota and San Diego when his weight soared to nearly 400 pounds.

The 6-foot-4 Fonoti is listed at 340 pounds.

“If he’s the guy, he’ll be there,” coach John Fox said. “But we still have a lot of work, a lot practice to do.”

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WEAKSIDE DAVIS: Thomas Davis is enjoying the move to weakside linebacker.

Beginning his fourth year, Davis has shifted sides in one of many offseason tweaks for Carolina’s defense. The move leaves Na’il Diggs and newcomer Landon Johnson contending for the other starting outside linebacker spot.

“I think as a player, it gives me the opportunity to use what I have,” said Davis, who started his pro career as a safety. “I can run, and I think I have a better opportunity to run around and make more plays at the will linebacker spot.”

Diggs worked with the first team Saturday ahead of Johnson, who was signed away from Cincinnati in the offseason.

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EXTRA POINTS: Owner Jerry Richardson scooted around the practice fields in a golf cart, pausing briefly for a chat with Delhomme. General manager Marty Hurney later climbed in Richardson’s cart. The Panthers hold training camp at Wofford, Richardson’s alma mater. … For the second straight year, players were greeted with unseasonably cool temperatures on an overcast, drizzly morning. “It was nice,” Delhomme said. “I anticipated it to be pretty warm, which I’m sure it will be tomorrow.” … WR Chris Hannon, hoping to make the roster, made a leaping catch in the morning workout.    

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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