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Panthers scouts find talent in odd places

The Carolina Panthers might not be signing many players at the moment, but you can't accuse their scouting staff of not working.

Last week's addition of a kicker and a player they're bringing in for a pre-draft workout show the lengths they're willing to go for help.

Kicker Todd Carter was working part-time slinging smoothies for minimum wage before the Panthers found him - basically as he told the Flint Journal "being a bum."

Carter had kicked at DivisionII Grand Valley State through 2008, but wasn't invited to an NFL camp last summer.

He continued to work out with former Dallas punter Filip Filipovic, who got him a tryout with the Panthers in March. While it's hardly the resume you'd expect from an NFL signee, keep in mind he's here to replace Rhys Lloyd on kickoffs, not John Kasay.

Fendi Onobun is better known, if only slightly.

Onobun, an athletic tight end from Houston, had two catches for 33 yards and a touchdown - in his career.

The first four years of his college career were spent playing basketball at Arizona, where he also had middling numbers (143 points and 95 rebounds in four seasons). But taking advantage of the same NCAA rule that allowed former Duke basketball guard to play quarterback at Syracuse, he extended his career.

He made an impact, blocking two extra points in a win against Southern Mississippi.

Where he really caught the Panthers' attention was at his pro day workout. At 6-foot-6, 252 pounds, he ran a 4.48-second 40 yard dash, and put up an impressive 37 1/2 inch vertical jump and an 11-foot-1 standing broad jump. That kind of athleticism figures to make him a late-round pick, as raw as he is.

Tebow's stock rising

Despite early concerns from NFL scouts, coaches, and team executives about Tim Tebow's throwing motion and ability to be a pro quarterback, the former Florida Gators star has gained momentum leading up to the draft. He no longer will likely be available when the Carolina Panthers pick midway through the second round.

Carolina has the 48th overall selection and likely would have to trade up to land Tebow.

As far back as last month, a source close to Tebow predicted he could be picked in the first round. That thinking has become more prevalent around the league, though opinions continue to vary widely.

Among teams believed to be interested in Tebow who pick ahead of the Panthers in the second round are Cleveland (38th overall), Buffalo (41) and New England (44 and 47, plus No.22 in Round 1).

Other quarterbacks Carolina could consider in the second or third rounds are Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour, Texas' Colt McCoy and Cincinnati's Tony Pike. In later rounds, possibilities include Fordham's John Skelton, Troy's Levi Brown, Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton and West Virginia's Jarrett Brown.

The Panthers are expected to draft a quarterback and possibly add another veteran. C.C.

Line a position of strength

The New York Times' "Fifth Down," blog ranked the top 10 players at each offensive line position, and the Panthers were one of three NFL teams with at least four of their five blockers to make the lists.

Left tackle Jordan Gross and right tackle Jeff Otah were each ranked seventh, and center Ryan Kalil was ninth at his position. In somewhat of a surprise, right guard Keydrick Vincent was pegged sixth at his position, and left guard Travelle Wharton was unranked. D.G.

Extra points

Backup quarterback Josh McCown, an unrestricted free agent, worked out for New Orleans Thursday and could have more visits in the coming weeks. McCown's agent said last week the Panthers told him they haven't closed the door on bringing him back.

Cornerback C.J. Wilson, a restricted free agent, will report to offseason workouts Monday, according to his agent. He's not going to sign his tender until after the April15 deadline for RFAs to get offer sheets, but plans to sign an injury protection letter so he can work out with his teammates.

Free agent receiver Muhsin Muhammad hasn't signed with anyone yet, and though he's done well for himself financially, he could use a little boost. According to the Chicago Tribune, Muhammad's planning to take a bath on the home he bought while with the Bears.

Purchased in 2005 for $1.425million, he's listing the 7,500-square-foot home for $1.128 million. After he re-signed with the Panthers, he rented the suburban mansion to Bears running back Kevin Jones, but Jones was released in March, leaving it vacant.

The NFL schedule's expected to be announced next week. The Panthers opponents are already known, but dates and times are unknown.

The Panthers will play home games against NFC South rivals Atlanta, New Orleans and Tampa Bay, along with Arizona, St. Louis, Chicago, Baltimore and Cincinnati. They will make road trips to the division teams, San Francisco, Seattle, the New York Giants, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. D.G.