CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers had to bring Curtis Deloatch back. Not because he was the best cornerback available on short notice, but because he's good luck.
They're 1-0 with him, 0-1 without him this year.
"I hope I'm a good luck charm for this team," he said with a grin. "I hope so."
Deloatch is back with the team for the third time, re-signed Monday to fill the slot left by Dante Wesley -- whose arrival triggered Deloatch's first departure.
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The fourth-year corner signed in March and had a good camp. But they cut him before the opener to help their special teams with Wesley, then brought him back later in opening week when cornerback Chris Gamble rolled his ankle.
Deloatch played against St. Louis, but was cut the following day when they added tight end Christian Fauria. Then Wesley broke his collarbone against Houston.
"Yeah, they told me I could unpack this time," Deloatch said with a laugh. "But this is the NFL, you never know."
They were fortunate he was still close. He lives a block away from the stadium, but had a call from St. Louis for a workout Monday. But the Panthers beat the Rams again, getting Deloatch not long after the Houston game.
"I knew everybody here, they knew me, they trusted me, I know the defense," he said. "So I figured Carolina was the place to be so I came back again."
General manager Marty Hurney said the team didn't know he was still in town, and said bouncing players such as Deloatch back and forth was tough.
"It's hard to do to a guy, because it's such an emotional roller coaster," Hurney said. "But at the same time, it's better to bring him back three times than not at all."
Deloatch said it was tougher on others than him, since he stayed in touch with some teammates and had a sense he might be back.
"It's more for my family than anything," he said. "They don't understand what goes on behind closed doors. So they told me there's nothing I'm doing wrong, I'm working hard, doing what I'm supposed to do."
• CAT'S OUT OF THE BAG: When coach John Fox was asked about working reinstated right guard Jeremy Bridges in this week, he made no reference as to who would start, and worked to be as vague as possible. He said rookie Ryan Kalil (who started the last two weeks) might still work with the starters.
"We split time with those guys at today's practice and we'll evaluate that as the week goes on," Fox said.
Problem was, the two players in question didn't get the memo about being coy.
"I ran with the ones all day today, so I think it's going to be for sure that I'm starting on Sunday," Bridges said.
"I was on the second team," Kalil said. "That was kind of his job always and we had a temporary solution for me to come in. It was perfect for me to come in and a perfect situation for me to get some experience."
• TOO SOON: Fox wasn't biting when asked to evaluate his defensive line, which has generated one sack in two games.
"It's way too early," Fox said. "It's like evaluating through the first half of the first quarter. We'll wait until we get a little bit more into it before we start giving out evaluations."
They'll have a chance to fix it this week, as Atlanta has allowed 13 sacks in two games. Since the Falcons have thrown 52 passes, that means Joey Harrington's gone down once every five times he drops back.
• PUTTING A LID ON IT: Proud Nebraska product Mike Rucker was doing his interviews wearing a burgundy Southern Cal hat, courtesy of teammate Keary Colbert, whose Trojans took a 49-31 win over the Cornhuskers last week.
The hat looks good, Mike.
"No, it doesn't," Rucker replied. "He's still upset because Nebraska never recruited him. He brought the little thing up, so I told them if they won I'd wear his raggedy hat."
Colbert said the Cornhuskers tried to sign him. "But they wanted me to play safety," he added with a laugh.
• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers cleared the roster spot necessary for Bridges by placing safety Nate Salley on injured reserve. He hurt his knee Aug. 1 and has been "day-to-day" ever since. Officials said it became clear Salley's condition was going to keep him out some time longer, although they don't think he'll need surgery in the near future to fix the problem.
Three players were held out Wednesday -- defensive end Stanley McClover (thigh), safety Deke Cooper (thigh) and linebacker Adam Seward (calf). Cooper said he was nursing a groin strain and expected to be able to play this week. The bigger question will be whether he keeps his starting job over newcomer Marquand Manuel.
The Panthers shuffled their practice squad, cutting tackle Kevin Sampson and adding cornerback Tanard Davis. The Miami product had been with Indianapolis, spending time on the practice squad last year.
Former Panthers offensive lineman Will Montgomery became the latest of their cuts to sign elsewhere, latching on with the New York Jets.