Carolina Panthers

Davis' future with Panthers cloudy after appendectomy

SPARTANBURG -- Carolina wide receiver Josh Davis' immediate future with the team is cloudy, after he had to undergo an emergency appendectomy Sunday morning.

Davis, from York Comprehensive High, had been having a good camp prior to coming down with what they thought was a stomach ailment last Tuesday.

According to general manager Marty Hurney, the pain never subsided, so they took him to Carolinas Medical Center for more tests Saturday night, and held him overnight to get him ready for surgery.

The 26-year-old Davis was considered a long-shot by most entering camp, but had impressed the team with his quick pick-up of the new offense. He spent the spring playing in NFL Europe, missing all the Panthers offseason installation. While he had a chance to earn a practice squad slot, he's now going to have to recover before he's able to challenge for one of those.

Davis has also spent time in camp with Miami, New Orleans and Minnesota. He left Marshall as the second-leading receiver in NCAA history, with 306 catches.

• MUSICAL LINE -- Geoff Hangartner, come on down, you're the next contestant on The Guard on Right.

The third-year lineman marks the third option the Panthers have tried so far in camp, as they shuffle all their possibilities in preparations for the opener.

"That's what the preseason is for," coach John Fox said. "To take a look at guys in different spots and try to help you pick your 53 (-man roster). That's what we're trying to get sorted out."

Since projected starting right guard Jeremy Bridges will miss the first two games of the year on a team-issued suspension, the Panthers continue to look for the best way to get through those two weeks.

Bridges worked with the starters the first two weeks of camp, as they emphasized the long-term considerations. Last week, they tried moving center Justin Hartwig to right guard and playing rookie Ryan Kalil in the middle, but that wasn't a rousing success.

That led to Sunday afternoon's lineup, with Hartwig in his normal spot and Hangartner next to him. The benefit to that alignment is they're not disrupting two spots, and it helps that Hangartner has 15 starts under his belt.

Keeping the upheaval at a minimum is key, since linemen always say continuity's the most important thing they can have.

"It's inevitable," left guard Mike Wahle said of the Bridges suspension. "We've just got to figure out the five best guys in that situation and what positions need to be filled. The coaches are going to keep experimenting until they feel they have our best situation.

"It's somewhat difficult, but at the same time it only makes us better. The more positions guys can play, the more depth we have, the better off we'll be."

• "A GOOD START:" That's what defensive end Mike Rucker called the first two series of last Friday's game at Philadelphia, his first game action in eight months since blowing out his left knee.

Rucker said Sunday he wasn't sure he'd play against the Eagles until he got through pre-game warm-ups. He's been limited to one practice a day during camp, and warmed up in New York the week before but didn't play.

"It was just taking a step and going through warm-ups and seeing how I feel," he said. " I felt good and they gave me the thumbs up and we got a few series under my belt. It was good to see some different people and different plays. It got my mind thinking about getting ready for game time.

"It was (a relief) just for the simple fact that it had been awhile since I had live action. Being able to put some of that stuff behind. It's been a long eight months and it was nice to be back out there playing football with the players."

• EXTRA POINTS: Defensive end Julius Peppers stayed behind in Charlotte to rest. Fox said he had "a fever" and should be back at practice soon. They've been vague as to his condition, other than to say it wasn't related to the stomach virus that knocked him out a few days earlier in camp. ... They'll see Peppers soon, as camp will break after this morning's 9:10 a.m. session. Fox made them come back after playing poorly against the Eagles, as a good showing would have meant no return to Wofford College. But their stay will be a short one, as the movers had already packed up most of the stuff Sunday. ... Linebackers Na'il Diggs and Brandon Jamison were held out of Monday's practice. Fox said Jamison was "just nicked," while Diggs appears to have aggravated the hamstring injury that kept him out of most of camp.

NEWS OF THE DAY

One and done. That's all that's left of training camp, as coach John Fox informed his players that after this morning's session, they'll all get to go home.

Of course, if they didn't finish soon, Wofford was going to have to kick them out of a dorm. They had to come back this week after laying an egg in Philadelphia Friday night, but it wasn't so bad as to stretch it out all week.

WHAT WE LEARNED

The Panthers are going to fiddle with their offensive line until they find a combination they like. RG Geoff Hangartner took his turn with the first line Sunday, and will likely start Friday against New England.

But that wasn't the extent of the shuffling. They had Kenyatta Walker getting his first team work at both tackle spots, and C Ryan Kalil playing LG with the second team. They also moved Evan Mathis back inside to RG, and had Jeremy Bridges working as the backup RT.

This will continue for two weeks until they pick the nine or 10 blockers they're carrying into the regular season.

STOCK UP

CBs Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble each knocked away passes during one-on-one drills, from WRs Keary Colbert and Steve Smith, respectively. It was a good day's work, as they each made a few more plays.

STOCK DOWN

Poor FS Deke Cooper. Smith threw a move on him so quick and so completely confusing, the receiver stopped a few steps later rather than rub it in by running.

DID YOU SEE THAT?

The play of the day came when backup DE Dave Ball made an acrobatic one-handed interception of a David Carr pass at the line of scrimmage. He then took off, nearly nailing Fox in the process.

"I thought he was going to run over me," Fox cracked. "It might have been on purpose."

NUMBER OF THE DAY

2

Solid pops on running backs doled out by MLB Dan Morgan. They weren't live tackles by any means, but there was some noise coming from the popping pads on DeAngelo Williams and Nick Goings, as Morgan eases back into live work. He's doing more team drills, and could play a few snaps at some point in the next two weeks.

SIDELINES

The crowd of fans watching practice was down to the low dozens. It's been a well-attended camp despite the heat, but only the hard-cores were out Sunday, including a guy who felt compelled to wear a full-head rubber Panther mask. Must have only been about 150 degrees inside that thing.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"You're going to be tired in training camp. Coaches know that. Players know that. I would just go back and again say that when you are tired it's important for players to be able to rely on your technique. It's something that we need to do a better job of I feel." -- LG Mike Wahle, when asked about Fox's "playing in quicksand" comment Friday.

TODAY

The Panthers will practice once more, at 9:10 a.m. Then they'll hit the road, finishing the rest of their preseason work in Charlotte.

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