The Carolina Panthers have been looking for options at wide receiver all camp, but now they're looking at them in a slightly different order.
Wallace Wright and Brandon LaFell worked with the starters through the team periods Monday morning, their most extensive work as a tandem.
Thus far, the Panthers have used Kenny Moore and Dwayne Jarrett with the first team - and will likely continue to later - as they try to make a decision on whom to start when Steve Smith returns from a broken arm.
"It's open," Moore said of the competition at receiver. "You've got some young guys in there, you've got me, you've got D.J. Just everybody competing for a job. This is not just a receiving thing, it's your life, your livelihood. It's big, it's an opportunity to really step in and be a big-time receiver or be the No. 2 receiver across from Steve.
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"Everybody's coming for that and wants that. It gives it an open atmosphere. Nobody's done it except for Steve and he's not here. So who else is going to step it up?"
Moore and Jarrett are the known commodities, as it were. They have 39 of the 48 non-Smith receptions on the receiver depth chart.
The move is not necessarily an indictment of Moore and Jarrett, more of a reflection of the good work of the other two. Wright's a special teamer, though he's shown surprisingly good hands in practice.
LaFell has also opened eyes, as he's got more explosiveness and big-play ability than originally advertised. Even coach John Fox mentioned LaFell when asked for camp surprises, saying "Brandon LaFell has flashed quite a bit."
Numbers back up as injuries heal
The Panthers had a more normal looking practice Monday morning, with five players back from injuries.
Running back Tyrell Sutton, tight end Jamie Petrowski and defensive linemen Nick Hayden, Eric Moore and Hilee Taylor returned, leaving 11 players on the sideline after the first day off of camp.
Among the missing were cornerback Chris Gamble (knee), but having more numbers gave practice a different feel.
Getting Sutton back gave the Panthers a closer-to-normal complement of running backs, since they went through parts of last week with two healthy ones. Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson are still out.
"Those guys fought through a tough few days of practice," Fox said. "We had limited numbers there, and even brought in a new guy - Dantrell Savage - who learned the offense pretty quickly. We weathered that first wave."
Linemen Capizzi, Crummey add experience
The Panthers also added a few more experienced offensive linemen who should help them get better work in the exhibitions.
Gone are undrafted rookies Kurtis Gregory and Noah Franklin, and in their places were Jason Capizzi and Andrew Crummey.
Capizzi is on his seventh NFL team, with previous stints with Pittsburgh, the New York Jets, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, St. Louis and Cleveland. He hasn't played in a game but was on the Steelers' active roster in 2008, and also did a turn with Las Vegas of the UFL.
Crummey was claimed off waivers from Jacksonville. He has also played with Washington, Cincinnati (appearing in six games in 2008) and Houston before rolling in here just as the team was finishing stretching exercises.
Having some more seasoned help should be of the most benefit to backup quarterbacks Hunter Cantwell and Jimmy Clausen, who struggled behind makeshift lines during Saturday's Fan Fest scrimmage.
"We had a little while to look at those other guys," Fox said of the move. "And then we brought in two new guys.
"They were in a camp and played last year. They have a little bit more experience than some of the guys we were playing with earlier. In both cases, we tried our best to upgrade."
"Yeah, I had a shot, I just dropped it. It happens. It's not going to be my first time dropping a ball. Was I upset? Was I down? Yeah. But I've got to go to the next play and make something happen.
"It made me feel better that it just went through my hands rather than I had my hands on it, I touched it and fumbled it, something like that. I just was a few milliseconds too late closing my hands. That's it. So I did a good job of tracking the ball down, running a good route, now I've got to finish the play. Nobody cares about all that stuff, all they want is for you to catch the ball.
"I'll learn from it, get better from it, move on." Receiver Kenny Moore, on his dropping a long pass in Saturday's scrimmage.
Clausen had an up-and-down morning. In one five-minute span, he bobbled two snaps from center Steve Justice. It's often impossible to know exactly who is to blame for such faulty exchanges, but the end result is something you can't accept.
On the other hand, he fired a laser to tight end Dante Rosario in the back of the end zone, giving him something positive to leave on.
It's clear the Panthers would like to give Armanti Edwards every opportunity to win the punt return job. He's getting the bulk of the reps there (along with Captain Munnerlyn and Brian Witherspoon), and has shown steady improvement catching the ball.
Perhaps the showing at the Fan Fest practice was not a fluke. As defensive tackles Tank Tyler and Louis Leonard work to come back from offseason surgeries, it appears the Panthers have options at the position, and perhaps enough quality to get by.
Ed Johnson has had a solid camp, and the Panthers like Derek Landri. In fact, Landri and Leonard worked with the first team Monday as they look for the right combination.