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News » Carolina Panthers Notes, Quotes 2008-08-13

Carolina Panthers Notes, Quotes 2008-08-13

Carolina Panthers Notes, Quotes 2008-08-13
--Don't be surprised if contract negotiations with defensive end Julius Peppers begin to heat up soon.

There is some speculation the Panthers have been waiting to see if Peppers bounces back from an awful season in 2007 before giving him a contract that might make him the highest-paid defensive player in the league.

Well, if Saturday night is any indication, Peppers is back.

Sure it's the preseason, but Peppers looked dominant in his first game at right defensive end, blowing past Colts left tackle Tony Ugoh on the third play of the game and dislodging the ball from quarterback Jim Sorgi. Teammate Charles Johnson recovered it, giving Carolina the ball at the Colts 19 and setting up DeAngelo Williams' touchdown run.

After a rough season in 2007, there is plenty of excitement surrounding Peppers this year.

Earlier in training camp, teammate Jordan Gross said of Peppers: "I think he's going to have his best year ever. He's better than I've ever seen him. Barring anything unknown, there's no reason he won't go out and set records."

It's early, but Peppers had that look about him Saturday night.

Aside from the sack, he also had two other quarterback pressures and was a disruptive force.

Peppers, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, has plenty of reason to be motivated.

--Rookie running back Jonathan Stewart is making progress in his return from turf toe surgery, but said he still lacks the explosiveness he had in college.

"Going to certain sides and everything, that's what we're working on right now," said Stewart, the 13th overall pick in this year's draft. "The whole explosiveness, some of that stuff is kind of limited because of my toe."

Stewart doesn't seem too worried.

He just keeps reminding himself that he's only been practicing for 12 days. He had surgery in March and didn't participate in any of the team's minicamps, so it's still early.

When asked if doctors have given him an idea of when he might be 100 percent, Stewart said, "I really don't know. I hope soon. I'm pretty sure it's going to be soon.

"I'm just kind of antsy about going out there and just playing again to my full potential. It's been since November (when he first injured it) since I've been able to do that. I'm feeling kind of antsy, but patience is a virtue we all desire."

The Panthers have limited Stewart's reps at camp to keep him from rushing back too soon and re-injuring the toe.

"He's fine. We're just being precautionary," Fox said. "He's progressing just fine. He's getting plenty of reps. He's in all the meetings."

--Quarterback Jake Delhomme was asked about whether a two-game suspension might soften Smith, who is now forced to be on his best behavior lest he be sent packing.

"I know the question you're saying, but when Steve came out of his mom, he had that edge," Delhomme said. "I truly believe that. Guys feed off Steve when Steve plays - offensively, defensively, everybody feeds off Steve. That is just my opinion. I know when the lights come on he will still be the same Steve.

"To me, that is innate. You either have it or you don't have it. I truly believe somebody can't work to get that way. You either want it or you don't want it."

--Middle linebacker Jon Beason is getting used to the notion of having defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac in his ear while he's on the field.

An NFL rule change this year allows one defensive player to wear a microphone in his helmet to receive signals from the sideline, just as the quarterback does.

"It's been fun," Beason said. "You get the calls faster and it gives you more chance to think about it and talk about it with other guys and make sure you are on the same page."

However, Beason said he still needs to know the hand signals as a backup.

"Yeah, there is a little glitch in it because it times out after 15 seconds and the play clock is 35 seconds," Beason said. "So the offense can wait 15 seconds and call their play and then you have to get (hand) signals from the sidelines anyway."

--Cornerback Chris Gamble said his goal is to make the Pro Bowl.

The fifth-year cornerback knows if he can reach that goal he'll set himself up for a big payday next year when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

This past off-season, Philadelphia lured Asante Samuel away from New England with a six-year, $57 million contract. DeAngelo Hall left Atlanta and signed a new seven-year, $70 million with Oakland.

Gamble took notice.

"Every other day somebody else was getting signed and it's a DB," Lucas said. "So it's like, 'Man, my time could be up next.'"

Still just 25, Gamble should be a hot commodity next February even if he turns in an average season. He brings a wealth of experience (56 career starts) and corners with Gamble's athleticism are hard to come by.

So far, the Panthers haven't made any serious overtures to Gamble about a new deal. But he knows at some point talks will heat up.

Until then, he plans to focus on bringing his game to the next level, the level where everyone around here things he belongs.

"I could be that next DB, but it starts first on the field," said Gamble. "I've got to make myself go out there and have fun and make plays like I know I can. When I see that, it just puts a smile on my face that I could be one of those guys."

--Offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson spoke with reporters and was asked about the progress of second-year receiver Dwayne Jarrett.

"You know, Dwayne, I think, each day we try to make steps with him. Some days we feel better than others," Davidson said. "Right now it's kind of where it is. We need to get to where there's a - and he and I have had this conversation, so I'm not uncomfortable talking about it - but he's got to get a level of consistency that we're all comfortable with, including himself."

Davidson did say Jarrett is catching on to things quicker this year, but then added this: "I don't think there's been a matter of not understanding things. I just think it's got to happen faster for him. Time will tell on that one. Quite honestly, a lot of that is left in his court. He has to control that situation."

Jarrett played pretty well Saturday night with three catches for 43 yards vs. the Colts.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "In a lot of regards, he's improved for us. One thing that we noticed right away, and it started even before we went on break a little bit, was that he was taking a more active approach in the leadership of our team. And it's very evident now. I don't mean to make this sound like he's immature, but he's really grown up, and I think he's become a major player on our offense. And I mean that in every regard, because we use him on and off the field. He helps the young guys as well." -- Offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson on starting RB DeAngelo Williams, now in his third season.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 13, 2008

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Donte Curry Name: Donte Curry
Position: LB
Age: 30
Experience: 8 years
College: Morris Brown
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