NFL: Panthers notebook – Marshall not complaining about role
The Panthers notebook …
CHARLOTTEó Considered a strength, the Carolina Panthers’ secondary could be facing an upheaval in 2009.
Cornerback Chris Gamble is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. As he continues one of the best seasons of his career, his price is going up.
It could put the Panthers in a bind, as they also face the prospects of finding enough money under the salary cap to re-sign defensive end Julius Peppers and left tackle Jordan Gross.
But the Panthers also have other decisions to make in the secondary. Richard Marshall, while beaten on a 69-yard pass play in the loss to Atlanta Sunday, is one of the top nickel backs in the league. The Panthers have also not made a move trying to extend his contract.
“I just like playing football, regardless if I end up here or somewhere else,” Marshall said. “Nothing has happened as of right now as far as a long-term deal or anything. I can’t think about that. I just have to think about being on the field and playing the game, doing my job, being fast and making plays.”
With Ken Lucas anchoring the other starting cornerback position, Marshall has not been able to start other than injury in his three-year stint with Carolina after being taken in the second round in the 2006 draft.
“Everybody wants to be in a situation where you can start,” Marshall said. “But I understand that I’ve got two guys in front of me who are playing well. … I can’t do anything about it when I’m not on the field. So I just play my game when I get in, play full speed, try to make some plays and let the coaches do what they’re going to do.”
Marshall, meanwhile, is not surprised that Gamble is having a big season.
“He’s playing fast, making plays and doing the job,” Marshall said.
PACKERS FAN? The always-guarded John Fox providing a glimpse into his childhood?
Yes, or maybe no.
When the Panthers coach was asked about visiting historic Lambeau Field for Sunday’s game against Green Bay, Fox let a personal anecdote slip out.
“I go way back to 1966 when I was a Packers fan and some of the things that took place then,” Fox said. “That was a long time ago, and I’m embarrassed to say I can remember that but I do. But it does have great tradition and great history.”
So Fox, who was born in Virginia in 1955 before moving to California as a teenager, grew up rooting for the Packers?
“Can’t say that,” Fox replied, reverting to form.
Huh? Fox was reminded he just acknowledged being a Packers fan. Fox laughed, then still didn’t answer the question.
The former New York Giants defensive coordinator did consent to listing his favorite former Packers.
“I had a few. Bart Starr, Jim Taylor to name a couple,” Fox said. “Offensive guys believe it or not.”
NO WYOMINGS: There’s no doubt with a combined record of 35-20, the Panthers face a difficult closing five weeks.
But players and coaches take issue with folks who downplay their earlier wins over Kansas City (1-10), Oakland (3-8) and Detroit, which fell to 0-12 after a 47-10 loss to Tennessee Thursday.
“I had to apologize for a certain win (Oakland) a couple of weeks ago, and they looked pretty good against a team (Denver) this week, 31-10,” Fox said. “In this league, everybody’s got players. They are all pros. They are compensated well, and you’ve got your work cut out for you every week.””
BACK TO LAMBEAU: Na’il Diggs doesn’t expect to be as emotional in his second trip back to Green Bay.
The ex-Packer acknowledged Carolina’s game last year at Lambeau Field ó a 31-17 loss ó brought back memories of his six seasons as a Packer.
Now in his third season with the Panthers, Diggs expects Sunday to feel more like a normal road game.
“That’s the great thing with this sport,” Diggs said. “You can go to every team you played on, once the ball’s snapped it’s all business from there.”
COLD DAY: Playing a game in frosty Green Bay this late in the season can be tough for teams from the South. But defensive tackle Damione Lewis thinks the recent cold spell in Charlotte may help them.
“I know our field out there looks like the frozen tundra,” Lewis said.
While the early forecast calls for a chance of snow showers, the high is expected to be 33 degrees. Not too bad for Wisconsin on the last day of November.
But even though he was raised in Louisiana, quarterback Jake Delhomme thinks there’s too much emphasis on cold weather.
“Look, we’ve got heated benches. Quarterbacks got hand-warmers and hot packs in there,” Delhomme said. “It’s going to be chilly, but we’re baby-fied, too.”
EXTRA POINTS: LB Adam Seward (ankle) was the only player to miss practice Thursday. … The team held its normal late-morning workout, then players were given the afternoon off to spend Thanksgiving with their families. They were to make up for the lost meeting time with a longer day Friday. … Fox warned the team after practice to behave on the holiday. In 2002, RB Lamar Smith was arrested on a drunk driving charge on Thanksgiving. … When asked what he was eating for Thanksgiving, Delhomme quickly said, “a lot.” Delhomme has a problem many would like to have. “This time of year, man, I try to eat anything and everything to keep weight on,” he said.