NFL: Panthers notebook
The Panthers notebook …
SPARTANBURG, S.C.ó When Steve Smith punched teammate Ken Lucas during a break in practice last week, Jake Delhomme knew the incident could tear apart the Carolina Panthers.
Smith, the team’s top offensive weapon, was suspended for the first two regular-season games. Lucas, Carolina’s starting cornerback, suffered a broken nose and will be out a couple of weeks.
The potential was there to hold grudges, take sides and lose focus. Delhomme feels his teammates have avoided all those potential pitfalls.
“I don’t know if you put a letter grade on it, or a number from 1 to 10, it’s been fantastic,” Delhomme said Thursday. “That was a rough deal, everybody knows that. I really truly believe we have the right guys in the right areas on this team to get everything out in the open.
“Guys talked, Steve knew he did wrong. But the biggest thing out of all of them was Ken Lucas. For Ken Lucas to get up here, guys could really release a lot of emotions about listening to Ken and feeling how he felt.”
STEWART EXPLOSIVE?: Rookie running back Jonathan Stewart claimed he still hasn’t shown everything he can do as he slowly recovers from offseason surgery on his right big toe.
“The whole explosiveness of a runner that I am, some of that stuff is kind of limited because of my toe,” Stewart said. “Going to certain sides and everything, that’s what we’re working on right now.”
Offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson disagreed.
“I would say that he’s as explosive and as fast and as powerful as we thought he would be,” Davidson said.
But Stewart, the 13th pick in the draft, has routinely been practicing only once a day and has been limited in some drills. He said he still has pain in the toe, but doesn’t believe it will be a long-term problem.
Coach John Fox said he won’t know until shortly before kickoff Saturday if Stewart will play in the preseason opener against Indianapolis.
SPENCER WAIVED: Tackle Charles Spencer was waived Thursday for what Fox called “a conditioning issue,” and was replaced on the 80-man roster by offensive lineman Rueben Riley.
Spencer had missed several practices for what the team called a sore knee, but Fox said Thursday he was let go because of “conditioning and weight.”
Riley spent last season on Carolina’s practice squad. He was waived when the team signed Spencer.
EXTRA POINTS: Ten players missed practice because of injuries, including defensive starters Chris Gamble (hamstring), Chris Harris (groin), Lucas (nose) and Jon Beason (ankle). D.J. Hackett (toe) and Ryne Robinson (knee) headlined the sidelined offensive players. … Smith jumped too soon for a pass in the back of the end zone, yet still made a one-handed catch while on the way down and with Ricardo Colclough closely covering him. … The Panthers hold a brief walkthrough Friday at 10:45 a.m.
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