• 79°

Panthers trying to adjust to starís absence

By Mike Cranston
Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó Three large boxes filled with shoes sat in Steve Smithís cluttered locker Wednesday. Smith wasnít around to open the shipment and wasnít there when his Carolina Panthers teammates voted to replace him as a team captain, either.
Farther down the same row of lockers, the man whose nose was broken by Smithís sucker-punch a month ago at training camp insisted theyíll overcome being without their three-time Pro Bowl receiver as he serves a two-game, unpaid suspension to start the season.
iIt showed the character of this team for us to have the ability to move on,î cornerback Ken Lucas said. iPeople could still be dwelling on it, but we havenít. If anything, it has brought this team much closer than where we were at first. We realize how much we care for each other once the incident happened.
iItís like two brothers fighting. Youíre going to fight sometimes with your brother, but youíre still going to love your brother.î
Lucas acknowledged players discussed perhaps seeing if Smithís team-imposed suspension could be lifted. But the Panthers practiced Wednesday without Smith, leaving them with only three healthy receivers for Sundayís season opener at two-time defending AFC West champion San Diego.
iIt has been a topic of discussion, but because of the rules, it canít happen,î Lucas said. iAll we can do is come out and win for him.î
But it was clear Smith punching Lucas while he was on one knee with his helmet off during a break in practice Aug. 1 has changed the way Smithís teammates look at him. After overcoming early transgressions in his career that included a one-game suspension for punching teammate Anthony Bright during a film session in 2002, his teammates voted Smith a team captain last year.
On Wednesday, players voted to keep quarterback Jake Delhomme an offensive team captain ó and replace Smith with veteran receiver Muhsin Muhammad.
iItís a little unexpected,î said Muhammad, beginning his second stint with the Panthers after spending the previous three years in Chicago. iThere are a lot of great leaders on the field and guys that get it done.î
The Panthers will not only need Muhammadís leadership Sunday, but plenty of production on the field, too. Heíll start opposite either D.J. Hackett, who returned to practice Wednesday after missing nearly a month with a toe injury, or Dwayne Jarrett, who caught six passes as a rookie last year.
With Ryne Robinson and Jason Carter out with injuries, the only other healthy receiver is kick returner Mark Jones, who was signed Monday and has never caught a pass in the NFL.

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Blotter: Two men rob convenience store at gunpoint

Business

Brewery, second-floor restaurant planned for downtown China Grove

Local

Sonny Allen, former mayor of Salisbury, dies at age 90

Education

RCCC names Student Excellence Award finalists

Local

City approves permit for child care center near downtown

Business

Deadline approaches to apply for Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Rowan program

Landis

Landis removed from Local Government Commission’s watch list

Local

YSUP Rowan launches month-long drug use prevention campaign

Education

Shoutouts

Education

RSS reports man impersonating summer meals worker

Local

County ponders plumbing replacement to completely eliminate lead in Dukeville

High School

High school baseball: Round 2 for South, East

College

College baseball: Former East slugger Chandler Blackwelder commits to North Greenville

News

High Rock Lake Association calls for entries in Fourth of July dock decorating contest

Sports

Hornets’ LaMelo Ball selected NBA Rookie of the Year

Education

Horizons summer camp takes students on mission to Mars

Nation/World

Congress approves bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday

News

Veterans’ tax exemption expanded in bill clearing NC House

News

Appeals court refuses to reinstate N Carolina abortion ban

Kannapolis

Ryan Dayvault drops out of Kannapolis mayoral race

Local

City adopts nondiscrimination ordinance for employees, entities receiving city services

Crime

Blotter: Shots fired after truck chases car off interstate

Crime

I-85 road rage incident results in assault, child abuse charges

Crime

China Grove man arrested for sex crimes involving woman with disabilities