Carolina Panthers

Panthers get Chicago safety Harris for draft pick

SPARTANBURG -- The Carolina Panthers finally added the safety help they've been looking for all offseason, acquiring Chris Harris from Chicago Thursday in exchange for next year's fifth-round draft pick.

They also signed former camp-hand and practice squad safety Jermaine Hardy, who spent part of 2005 on the active roster, just to give them another able body.

The Harris move came when the Panthers were especially thin at their thinnest position. Projected starter Nate Salley went down with a knee injury Wednesday and hasn't practiced since, although the team said his condition isn't cause for a long-term absence.

"After the draft, we called quite a few teams and said, 'If you have certain guys, certain names that might be available, to touch base with us,'" general manager Marty Hurney said. "I think we're fortunate that the Bears have a surplus at that position.

"We think Chris is guy who will come in and compete. He's smart. He's instinctive. He's a very physical player, and we think that he will come in and help us."

Harris, who'll turn 25 next week, has started 20 games for the Bears the last two years. He has 124 career tackles and five interceptions, along with one of Peyton Manning in Chicago's Super Bowl XLI loss.

The 6-foot, 207-pounder has started at both safety spots. Originally a sixth-round choice out of Louisiana-Monroe, Harris became expendable when the Bears acquired Adam Archuleta from Washington.

• GO-TIME: The Panthers continued what's been a physical camp with a dominant defensive effort in a 10-play goal-line scrimmage.

While running back DeShaun Foster plowed through for a touchdown on the first play of the segment, that was all the offense could muster. The first and second versions of the Panthers' goal-line defense made several dramatic hits.

Linebacker Adam Seward laid out running back Eric Shelton on the final play with the first group, while cornerback Ken Lucas finished the second half with a crunching tackle on Alex Haynes that had his teammates whooping and hollering.

"It's usually energetic when you have a scrimmage," coach John Fox said. "That's part of the tightrope you walk as far as getting guys ready and not getting them too banged-up.

"I like where our team is right now. We've got a long ways to go, a lot of work, and guys are going about their business good."

• UNDER SCRUTINY: A crew of NFL officials was in camp to update the Panthers on a few rule changes and new points of emphasis, and they were asked how their job was complicated by the recent scrutiny of the NBA after official Tim Donaghy was accused of gambling on games which he called.

"It's like having cold water thrown in your face when you see something like that," veteran referee Walt Coleman said. "It's too bad because it does reflect on all of us."

The NFL has always stressed the importance of official staying away from any hint of such activity. They are barred from any kind of wagering on team sports, and can't even visit a casino or dog or horse track during the season. If they want to go to the track in the offseason, they have to notify NFL Security within 24 hours of their visit.

Officials are also subject to extensive background checks every three years, and they go through a thorough selection process before they ever get into the league.

"The system is in place not for the officials," Coleman said. "It is in place for everybody involved in the NFL. They are worried about all of us."

• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers will have to release a player today to make room for Harris. They didn't have to cut a player to make room for Hardy since he was an NFL Europa player this spring. They did move NFLE allocation Jason Hall to the exempt/injured list. The league's defensive player of the year, he hasn't been to camp since he's in Birmingham, Ala., getting treatment for what team officials termed a minor knee injury. ...

Wide receiver Steve Smith got another day off, although he's not injured. The team's giving their most valuable offensive asset all the time he needs. They also gave veteran wideout Chris Horn the day off. ...

In addition to Salley, the others held out because of injuries were linebackers Na'il Diggs and Brandon Jamison and cornerback Derrick Strait, all with hamstring pulls.

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