Carolina Panthers

Harris remembers big plays against Panthers

Carolina secondary/safeties coach Mike Gillhamer talks with safety Chris Harris at Wofford College during training camp.
Carolina secondary/safeties coach Mike Gillhamer talks with safety Chris Harris at Wofford College during training camp.

SPARTANBURG -- New Carolina safety Chris Harris said Friday he'll never forget the first big play he made against the Panthers, because he's reminded of it every time he walks into his living room.

Harris broke up a key fourth-quarter pass for Chicago in the Nov. 20, 2005, win at Solider Field, making a last-ditch dive to bat away what would have been a touchdown to Ricky Proehl.

He was traded to the Panthers on Thursday for a fifth-round pick in next year's draft.

"I remember that like yesterday," Harris said. "I have that picture framed on the wall of my home. That was my most memorable moment of my rookie year."

It was equally memorable for the Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, who recited chapter and verse about the play, acknowledging he was glad Harris is on his side now.

"I still thought we had a touchdown," Delhomme said. "Ricky was on his knees waiting on it, then he (Harris) dove, and it was one of those, you don't want to tell somebody 'good job,' but he made a good play."

Delhomme also remembered Harris tackling DeShaun Foster along the sidelines in their playoff game the following January. (He had 12 tackles and a forced fumble that game, and added an interception in last year's Super Bowl loss to Indianapolis.)

Harris started 20 games for the Bears the last two years, and was surprised when coach Lovie Smith told him the trade went down. The Bears obtained veteran safety Adam Archuleta this offseason, but Harris still thought he was part of the Bears' plan.

"Yeah, it blindsided me," Harris said. "I didn't see it coming, a lot of people didn't see it coming. It didn't dawn on me that I was coming to Carolina. All I heard was, you're getting traded.

"Then when I sat down and thought about it, I said 'Man, I'm going to Carolina, they got a nice squad.' That kind of brought a smile to my face. This is a contender, can definitely contend for the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl."

Harris will get his first work at strong safety, though he said he wants to learn both spots eventually.

• TAKING THE LONG VIEW: Coach John Fox had no plans to mix up the offensive line during training camp due to right guard Jeremy Bridges' suspension for the first two games.

Bridges was suspended after being arrested for a misdemeanor assault the day before camp. He was alleged to have waved a gun at a female employee of a strip club.

"Well, you figure two and 14," Fox said when asked if he planned to change the practice routine. "So there are 14 (games) after those two. We've got flexibility there and we'll adjust that as need be as we get closer."

D'Anthony Batiste has taken the work at right guard with the second line, though they might prefer to use the more experienced Geoff Hangartner there. They've fiddled briefly with lines that included Justin Hartwig at guard and Ryan Kalil at center, but that's been limited in recent days.

• ROOM TO MOVE: Second-overall draft pick Calvin Johnson agreed to a five-year contract with Detroit on Friday, which is notable because the deal did not include a non-refundable second-year option bonus. That's the language that has held up talks between the Panthers and first-round pick Jon Beason.

Beason's holdout reached its seventh day Friday, and he's one of five first-rounders who have failed to sign.

• FAN FEST: The Panthers return to Charlotte this morning for their annual FanFest practice at Bank of America Stadium.

They'll go through their most extensive live work of camp, a 48-play scrimmage divided among the units.

Typically, the first teams go against the seconds (offense vs. defense and vice versa), then the twos go, followed by the third string.

"We've done a couple of eight-play scrimmages so far," Fox said. "And we'll step it up a little bit as we prepare to get ready for the preseason games, in particular next week against New York."

• EXTRA POINTS: To make room for Harris, the Panthers released cornerback Dion Byrum. The Monroe, N.C., native played three games last season when the Panthers were decimated by injuries ... Defensive end Julius Peppers didn't practice Friday morning, with an undisclosed illness. Stanley McClover worked in his spot ... Rookie receiver Ryne Robinson was also held out of the morning work with what Fox termed "muscle tightness." Also out of the morning work were safeties Mike Minter (knee) and Nate Salley (knee), linebackers Na'il Diggs and Brandon Jamison and cornerback Derrick Strait (all hamstrings).

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