The NFL notebook …
CHARLOTTE ó Jacksonvilleís Blaine Gabbert will make his first NFL start against the team that seriously considered making him the No. 1 pick in the draft and the player who eventually got the nod ahead of him.
The Panthers are happy they took Cam Newton, but Carolina did extensive research on the Jaguarsí rookie quarterback when he was coming out of college. They sent six members of their staff to Missouri to get to know Gabbert prior to Aprilís draft.
On Sunday, Newton and Gabbert will square off.
ěTheyíre the same type of athlete ó big, tall and physical guys with great arms and great running ability,î Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. ěThey have good vision and theyíre smart guys.î
But Rivera said there was ěsomethingî that attracted the team to Newton, a certain hard-to-explain moxie about the Heisman Trophy winner out of Auburn.
ěI donít want to say the other kid doesnít have the ëit factorí but there was something about Cam that I havenít seen from a lot of guys in this league,î Rivera said.
GIANTS FAKING INJURIES
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ó New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell would neither deny nor confirm that he has instructed his players to fake injuries to slow down an opposing offense.
The St. Louis Rams accused the Giants, particularly safety Deon Grant, of feigning injuries on Monday night to slow down their offense after New York beat St. Louis 28-16 on Monday night.
The Rams seemed miffed that Grant went down with an alleged injury to his right knee late in the first quarter after the Cadillac Williams gained eight yards to the New York 7-yard line.
After the injury on first down, the Rams had to settle for a field goal.
Grant denied faking an injury on Wednesday.
ěI canít say Iíve ever done that and I canít say that I havenít done that,î Fewell said Thursday when whether he told players to fake injuries.
PHILADELPHIA ó Eagles quarterback Michael Vick returned to practice Thursday, just four days after he suffered a concussion against the Falcons in Atlanta.
During the portion of Thursdayís practice open to the media, Vick was seen throwing passes to assistant coaches, jogging around with teammates and participating in all the drills that the other quarterbacks, Mike Kafka and Vince Young, participated in.
The Eagles announced after practice that Vick was a full participant with no restrictions.
ěHe looked good, he looked fine,î said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who had a career-high 171 receiving yards against the Falcons. ěIn control of the huddle, in control of what was going on, in control of the offense.
ěHeís in good shape.î
Vickís participation showed that heís been cleared by the NFL-appointed independent neurologist, required under the leagueís 2009 concussion policy for a player to ěreturn to football activities.î
According to that policy, a player ěshould not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant.î
With a huge media contingent watching, Vick arrived at practice in full pads and a helmet. He watched practice from the sideline on Wednesday afternoon, after participating in a morning walkthrough.
ěHeís our leader, so obviously itíll help us and give us the best chance to win,î Maclin said. ěObviously, we want him out there.î
The Eagles (1-1) face the Giants (1-1) Sunday in their home opener at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia has won the last six straight in this classic NFC East rivalry.
Vick threw for a pair of touchdowns in the 35-31 loss to Atlanta, but couldnít continue after getting spun by a Falcons rusher into one of his teammates, right tackle Todd Herremans. Vick was seen on national television spitting up blood on the sideline. The Eagles said later that was caused by him biting his tongue.
Vick was replaced by Kafka, as Young, who was signed to be the backup, missed the first two games with a hamstring injury.
ěNot to say we donít have confidence in the other guys, weíre very confident,î running back LeSean McCoy said. ěBut Mike Vick is Mike Vick. Weíre happy heís back.î
Giants coach Tom Coughlin, in a conference call with the media earlier this week, said he expected Vick to play, and that New York was not putting together a different gameplan without Vick in it.
Vick has only played a full 16-game regular season once in his career. He missed three games with a rib injury last year.
ěHeís one of the great leaders on this team,î offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. ěHe has old-school mentality.î
Maclin said Vickís desire to get back on the field as quickly as possible after a fairly serious injury shows what kind of leader he is.
ěThatís what you want out of your quarterback,î Maclin said. ěYou want him to want to be out there, you want him to put everything on his shoulders, and he wants to be the guy to take us where we want to go.
ěWeíre going to rally behind him, and we definitely want him out there.î
The Associated Press