The Panthers’ notebook …
SPARTANBURG, S.C. ó It didn’t take long to show just how little depth the Carolina Panthers have at defensive tackle.
Less than 30 minutes into the first training-camp workout Monday, undrafted rookie Marlon Favorite was working with the first unit.
Favorite was thrust into the role after Maake Kemoeatu rolled his right ankle while running in a team drill. He was carted to the locker room and scheduled to be examined later Monday.
Favorite, who played at LSU, was chosen ahead of veteran Nick Hayden and third-round pick Corvey Irvin to work next to fellow starter Damione Lewis.
“It’s a shocking experience,” Favorite said. “You’ve got to be ready, That’s what my coaches are telling me.”
Strapped by the salary cap, the Panthers are depending on several youngsters to back up Kemoeatu and Lewis. The 6-foot-1, 317-pound Favorite was only a part-time starter in college while playing in Glenn Dorsey’s shadow.
“He’s been asking a lot of questions. he wants to know, he wants to be a good player,” Lewis said. “I think it’s good for rookies to come in and ask, because it’s a totally different game up front from college to the NFL. For me, other than quarterback, that’s probably the biggest leap.”
BEASON DINGED: Jon Beason, Carolina’s leading tackler the past two seasons, was sidelined midway through the morning practice with a tight left hamstring.
“It’s just a little tweak. It’s something I did a week and a half ago,” Beason said. “I just didn’t warm up well. It’s my fault.”
Beason seemed unconcerned about the injury, predicting he wouldn’t miss much time. Dan Connor replaced him at middle linebacker.
“It’s not really that bad,” Beason said. “There are some when you pull it you can’t even walk. I can walk, so I’m good to go.”
PEP’S BACK: Julius Peppers was back at his familiar right defensive end spot Monday, looking fit and trim. The first practice of training camp was Peppers’ first contact with the team since he skipped offseason workouts while trying to strong-arm his way out of Carolina.
The Panthers, who placed the franchise tag on him, never wavered. He eventually signed his one-year, $16.7 million tender in late June.
Peppers declined to speak to reporters, typical for the reserved four-time Pro Bowl pick. Left tackle Jordan Gross joked that his quiet style might have prevented awkwardness in his return to the team.
“Well nobody really talked to him so much before,” Gross said, laughing. “It’s good. Everybody’s welcomed him back and we’re glad he’s here. None of us are paying him, so I’m glad he showed up.
“It’s great for our team that nobody has to answer questions of ‘Where is he?’ You guys now see he’s out there working.”
Peppers is playing catch-up learning new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks’ system. He hadn’t met with Meeks until he reported to camp Sunday.
“He asked me what the play was a few times,” the rookie Favorite said.
VOLUME ADJUSTMENT: With six new assistants, the first practice had a different pace and new drills than in year’s past.
It also had one loud coach.
New defensive line boss Brian Baker barked nearly the entire practice from under his floppy hat, demanding more intensity and chastising linemen for their technique.
“Why were we on the ground?” Baker screamed after a couple linemen were left on the turf after a play.
Baker replaced Sal Sunseri, who left in the offseason to coach linebackers at Alabama.
“They want us to hustle, hustle, hustle,” Lewis said. “They want that every play, but hustle is No. 1.”
Baker spent some of practice talking with Peppers about hand placement and technique during a 1-on-1 blocking drill.
SNAPPING COMPETITION: The two men seeking to be Carolina’s long-snapper got through the first workout without a snafu.
J.J. Jansen, acquired from Green Bay in the offseason, was the first to snap on field goals and punts. Then Nick Sundberg, an undrafted rookie from California, got his turn.
“They did well,” kicker John Kasay said. “They’re both professional guys. They work hard at what they’re doing. They want to do the right thing. … It’s just taking advantage of the opportunities when you get them.”
The Panthers didn’t re-sign Jason Kyle in the offseason to save salary-cap space. Kyle didn’t botch a snap in eight years with Carolina.
“Every year brings us new challenges,” Kasay said. “I have full confidence in both of them.”
EXTRA POINTS: Rookie CB Captain Munnerlyn knocked down a deep pass near the end zone in front of Steve Smith in the morning practice. … Veteran Brad Hoover, looking to hold off rookie Tony Fiammetta at fullback, received loud encouragement from his teammates when he landed a downfield block on Chris Gamble. … The Panthers practice once Tuesday at 3:10 p.m.