CHARLOTTE -- Throughout the spring, the Holt brothers have joked/wished about the possibility of joining forces with the Carolina Panthers.
Safety Terrence Holt did his part, signing a one-year deal with his home-state team this spring. Then his brother, St. Louis Pro Bowl wide receiver Torry Holt, started talking about it, and that took on a life of its own.
The good news is they exercised a bit of restraint last week, when Torry was here visiting. Terrence stopped short of having him tag along to the Panthers' team bowling outing.
"We thought with all the uproar and everything that happened, that may look suspicious," Terrence said. "Someone could superimpose a Panther shirt on him, or something. We thought that might be too much."
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The whole thing started out innocently enough. Talking to Raleigh television station WRAL from their charity golf tournament in April, Torry was commenting on his brother's arrival with the Panthers and said: "I wanted to send in my resignation to the Rams and see if I could join him. I'm excited, but I'm also a little jealous because I've always wanted an opportunity to come back home."
Suffice it to say that didn't sit well back in Missouri, where Torry has two years left on his contract. Then at his first minicamp, Torry clarified his point, emphasizing he intended to play for the Rams the next two years, and barring a new contract, see what came next.
"Then I will have the option to go and explore and give my services somewhere else," he told The Associated Press. "If that happens, Carolina will definitely be my first choice. There is no question about it."
So for now, Terrence has bragging rights back home, and you get the sense the reunion's clearly on their minds. They came close before, when Terrence was a red-shirt at N.C. State during Torry's final year there.
"He's actually been up here a few times, and began to fall in love with the area," Terrence said. "I was telling him 'Now you've got to combine it with playing here.' We'll see how it goes. Right now I'm trying to take care of myself and get myself a home turf and try to get somewhere and do well and set up shop, and then I'll bring him along."
Terrence thought the criticism his brother faced through the whole situation was unfair.
"He was just being honest," Terrence said. "We as players get sometimes looked at badly for being honest, but this is a brutally honest league. When teams make decisions and they're honest about who you are and they cut you, nothing's said about that. It's the right move to make.
"It's just something he said he feels passionate about, that he has two years left and after that he's going to see where he can land. If they don't re-sign him, then see if he can get back here to Carolina."
Terrence thought the Panthers might draft him in 2003. But when Detroit grabbed him, that meant four years with the Lions, and when he had a chance at free agency in 2007, Arizona overwhelmed him with a five-year, $15 million deal.
Thinking that would keep him from ever getting to play close to home (they're from Gibsonville, N.C., between Greensboro and Burlington), the younger Holt was surprised when the Cards cut him one year into the deal, after paying him $4 million for an unproductive season.
"It was very (surprising), sort of shell-shocking, makes you soul-search about where you are in the league and your purpose," he said. "I had a lot of time to just sit down and look at the things I had done well and the things I hadn't and try to improve upon that, try to make myself the best player I can be for whatever team I go to.
"There was a bit of the unknown, uncertainty about where that was gonna be."
Now that he's here, the road to the reunion's getting no easier.
The Panthers have a habit of making do with recycled veterans at one safety spot, and Holt looked like this year's when he signed for the minimum in March. Then the Panthers threw another curve at the brothers by using a third-round pick on Iowa's Charles Godfrey and installing him in the starting lineup, leaving Terrence scrambling for a spot.
It's similar to the bind he was in when Detroit chose safety Daniel Bullocks in the second round in 2006, but he was able to hang onto his job.
"Yeah, that's the way the league is," he said. "Me being in my sixth year, I know how to handle that now. It makes you a stronger player.
"I'm just trying to make it hard on the coaches, make that decision tough and hopefully put myself in the best position to be out there on Sunday."
So for now, the pressing concerns are for Terrence's employment here. But if he can hang on, let's just say you shouldn't be surprised if you're riding around town and see a certain All-Pro receiver alongside him.
"Anywhere I go, he's going to be, because we're brothers and we're tight like that," Terrence said. "So it just so happens that he made those comments and this is his hometown. And whenever anybody catches him here, just hanging out with me, there will be something said about that. He's happy where he is in St. Louis, and his contract. But he obviously wants to win, and if they don't sign him to a new contract in a couple of years, we'll see what happens.
"That would be the ultimate. That would be the capper on our careers."
• NOTES: Wide receiver D.J. Hackett (knee) was out again Tuesday. He and running back LaBrandon Toefield (pectoral) are the only players missing the workouts because of injuries.