Carolina Panthers

Bridges suspended two games by Panthers

With the help of team equipment interns, Carolina running back Nick Goings moves into the players dorm on the campus of Wofford College.
With the help of team equipment interns, Carolina running back Nick Goings moves into the players dorm on the campus of Wofford College.

SPARTANBURG -- The Carolina Panthers suspended right guard Jeremy Bridges for the first two games of the regular season for conduct detrimental to the team, following his arrest Thursday on assault charges.

The announcement came Friday night, roughly 12 hours before he was scheduled to take part in the first practice of training camp. The team offered little in the way of details earlier in the day, when coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney discussed the situation.

The suspension will cost Bridges $82,353, the prorated portion of his $700,000 base salary for the year.

Bridges was arrested for a misdemeanor count of assault after a Wednesday night incident outside Club Onyx, a South Charlotte strip club. A female employee there said he waved a gun at her during a disagreement.

He turned himself into authorities Thursday afternoon after a warrant was issued, and posted $3,000 secured bond and reported to training camp with the rest of his teammates Friday.

"All we can say is Jeremy adamantly denies that he pointed a gun at anybody," attorney George Laughrun said from his Charlotte office. "He absolutely, adamantly denies that anything like that happened.

"We're confident this is going to work itself out when we go to court."

Laughrun said Bridges would enter a plea of not guilty when he appears before a judge.

There's an administrative date of Aug. 22 on the books now (which coincides with what could be the last day of camp), but Laughrun said he probably wouldn't go to trial until later in the fall.

Laughrun's the same attorney who helped clear Panthers offensive lineman D'Anthony Batiste earlier this month. Batiste was arrested on concealed weapon and window tint violations, but they were thrown out when a judge ruled the tint arrest was a pretext for a search. That's when Batiste, a former sheriff's deputy in Louisiana, said he thought there were racial reasons for the stop.

Bridges started 14 games at right tackle last year, but was slated to be the starting right guard this year.

The Panthers signed him to a three-year contract extension last December.

"It's something we take seriously and something we don't condone," Fox said of the charges against Bridges. "They're accusations at this point, and we'll collect information and move forward."

• LOOKING BAD FOR BEASON: First-round pick Jon Beason could become the Panthers first camp holdout since 2003, barring an early morning miracle.

Hurney, who rarely (and by design) says anything inflammatory, lobbed what amounts to a grenade toward the Beason camp.

"We're not close," Hurney said. "I would say we're miles apart. I'm not going to comment on it any more in the future. We have a high regard for Jon as an individual, and it's a contract situation, but right now it's not close."

Hurney said around 5:30 p.m., that he didn't know if he'd talk to agent Michael Huyghue again. Reached later in the day, the agent sounded a more optimistic note regarding future discussions, but had his own problems with where they stood.

"I wouldn't want to characterize anything he said, but we're obviously not where we need to be," Huyghue said when apprised of Hurney's remarks. "The things we're at a standstill on are issues that are unique to any other deals that are done in the first round. There are just things they're asking for that are different than anything else out there."

Huyghue didn't want to get into the specifics of the impasse, but later added in an e-mail: "They have created an obstacle that would make our player the guinea pig of the draft."

Beason is theoretically boxed in, since the players immediately above and below him in the draft are already signed.

Earlier Friday, the Panthers signed second-round pick Dwayne Jarrett to a four-year deal worth $3.825 million, with $1.935 million in guarantees. His agent, Darin Morgan, said that represented a 7.5 percent increase over what last year's 45th overall pick received.

• CARSTENS GONE: Defensive tackle Jordan Carstens was waived-failed physical Friday afternoon, ending for now his hopes of returning from last year's blood clot that ended his season. The clot, which moved to his lungs and sent him to the hospital, was the result of medication he was taking for a pre-existing kidney condition.

Fox said team doctors determined Carstens simply wasn't ready to play again, but the Panthers were clear that they'd keep an eye on his condition in the future.

"Right now, our primary concern is that Jordan gets healthy," Hurney said. "You can't say enough about Jordan Carstens. You draw a guy up that fits our organization as a person and a player, ... you can't speak highly enough about him.

"First of all, we hope he gets healthy, and we'll see where it goes from there."

• ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: Carstens was the only player to fail his physical, and Fox said both defensive end Mike Rucker and left tackle Travelle Wharton were cleared to practice once a day as they recover from last year's knee injuries.

Fox also said linebacker Dan Morgan was cleared to practice, but won't take every repetition. Morgan missed almost all of last season with the continuation of a series of concussions, and Fox said the team will try to limit his contact early in camp.

"He's clear," Fox said of Morgan. "When you're dealing with potential blows to the head, we're going to try to avoid some of that as much as possible. It won't be practices (he skips), it'll be more segments of practices."

• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers will practice twice today (9:10 a.m. and 6:40 p.m.) as they embark on a new schedule. They won't go twice on back-to-back days, as Fox tries to keep them fresher.

They'll work at 3:10 p.m. Sunday. ... The Panthers also released undrafted rookie receiver Julius McClellan to get to the roster limit of 92, including their seven NFL Europa exemptions.

  Comments