Carolina Panthers

Minter relishing last training camp

Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith begins to break upfield after catching a pass as cornerback Ken Lucas applies defensive pressure.
Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith begins to break upfield after catching a pass as cornerback Ken Lucas applies defensive pressure.

SPARTANBURG -- Since the first minicamp of the year, safety Mike Minter's been smiling more, walking around with a different bearing. Knowing it's his last season, he's been soaking up the experience, enjoying even the mundane a little bit more.

He said Saturday -- after he finished his last first practice of training camp -- that he's committing his memories to tape, with a portable recorder in his dorm room to collect his thoughts for later.

"I've been doing this for a long time," the 33-year-old safety said. "I've been playing this game since I was 8 years old, and I'm going to miss it. As much as you try to prepare for it, I don't think you can. I'm going to take every day and every moment and cherish it.

Minter said he made his first entry to the audio journal Saturday morning as he rose to begin the day.

"Just basically the sadness that this is the last one," he said. "And the excitement of coming back and proving I'm not too old that I can't play this game."

After taking a pay cut and being told a starting job wasn't promised to him, Minter announced that his 11th would be his final season. He's still in the starting lineup since the Panthers failed to significantly add to the position in the draft or in free agency. Second-year man Nate Salley will start at the other spot, with journeyman Deke Cooper backing them up.

• BEASON UPDATE: First-round pick Jon Beason became the team's first holdout since 2003 when he failed to reach a contract agreement before the morning practice.

And it looks like it's going to extend another day, as team officials and agent Michael Huyghue said Saturday night there was no movement in their talks.

Panthers coach John Fox brushed off a question about Beason, saying: "I'm not in to talking about guys who aren't here."

Linebacker Dan Morgan said he spoke with Beason on Friday, and thought the chances of his fellow Miami product arriving soon were good.

"He wants to be here in camp," Morgan said. "I think we all know it's a financial thing and he has to look out for the best thing for his family. He'll be here soon, I think so."

• GOING HARD: Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins was playing with a particular verve Saturday morning, jumping offsides a few times, looking fast.

But the number he and teammate Maake Kemoeatu did on a blocking sled was the talk of the post-practice cafeteria.

The two behemoths, who combine for somewhere north of 700 pounds, hit a sled so hard it was jarred loose from the stakes that held it to the ground, forcing coach Sal Sunseri to call a finish to the drill.

• BRIDGES APOLOGIZES: Right guard Jeremy Bridges practiced Saturday, and apparently apologized to his teammates for being arrested the day before camp opened.

Bridges was charged with a misdemeanor count of assault, accused of waving a gun at a female employee of a strip club. The team suspended him the first two regular season games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team.

"I talked to him," Steve Smith said. "He's a teammate, he's a guy who's worked hard, he's a guy who's obviously made a mistake. ... He's a guy who came in here and said, 'Hey guys, I screwed up.' He didn't come in here like, 'What?' He came in here like, I screwed up and let's move on."

• EXTRA POINTS: Beason was the only player not on the field for the morning practice, as all their injured players from last year were back. Mike Rucker and Travelle Wharton were back on the field for the first time after their respective knee injuries last season. ... Single-game tickets went on sale Saturday morning, and the Panthers sold out all available tickets for their regular season games against Dallas and Indianapolis. They have just single seats left for their remaining regular season dates, and fewer than 2,000 tickets left for preseason dates with New England and Pittsburgh.

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