Carolina Panthers

'Injured' Shelton still a question mark

Carolina's Eric Shelton signs autographs after practice last season.
Carolina's Eric Shelton signs autographs after practice last season.

CHARLOTTE -- While there was nothing else as serious as the wrist injury that will keep quarterback Brett Basanez out for the year, the Panthers had a growing list of players on the sidelines when they returned to practice Sunday.

Four other players, including running back Eric Shelton, were held out of the first practice after Friday's preseason loss to New England.

Coach John Fox said Shelton had a "hip pointer," and didn't seem too concerned that it was serious. After the Patriots game, Shelton was walking through the locker room with a large bag of ice taped to his left side.

The timing's interesting, since Shelton's very much on the bubble to make the roster this year after a disappointing career. After spending his rookie year on injured reserve, he logged just eight carries last year.

This summer, he's fallen to fifth in the pecking order at running back, behind starter DeShaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams, Nick Goings and former practice-squader Alex Haynes.

Shelton has 10 carries for 44 yards in the preseason, with a long rush of 8 yards.

Running backs coach Jim Skipper sounded a cautionary note about Shelton earlier in training camp, after inadvertently leaving him out of a discussion of the players at the position.

"I don't know," Skipper said when asked about Shelton's progress. "It's hard to pin on anything. Hey, maybe some guys take a little longer to develop than others. But the clock's on, also. I don't like to count nobody out until we see how it shakes out.

"Eric knows what's going on. He's busting his butt. He's doing a lot better than he did last year, and we've got some good competition at that spot."

Also working on the side with Shelton were wide receiver Justin McCullum, fullback Steven Jackson and defensive end Rondell Biggs.

• SCARY SIGHT: Quarterback Jake Delhomme looked a little tender after one play, and didn't finish practice. He said afterward he was fine, and sitting out a few repetitions was a precautionary measure.

"I have a little twitch, but other than that I'm good," he said, motioning toward the greater side of the torso area. "They just didn't let me go back in. ... I'm good."

• THE FIRST WAVE: The Panthers cut seven players as they work toward the 75-man roster limit they have to reach by Tuesday afternoon.

The only name of note on the list was defensive tackle Chad Lavalais, who had 20 starts in two years with Atlanta.

The other players released were: Defensive tackle Brent Curvey, cornerback Kevin Garrett, safety Jermaine Hardy, wide receiver Jahkeen Gilmore and offensive linemen Nathan Bennett (Clemson) and Eric Graham.

• EXTRA POINTS: Players with NFL Europe exemptions are on their own after Tuesday, as the exemptions don't last beyond first cuts the way they used to. The Panthers have five left from NFLE: Wide receivers Josh Davis and McCullum, offensive lineman Bobby Harris, defensive tackle Gary Gibson and French linebacker Phillipe Gardent.

Davis has been out since having an emergency appendectomy Aug. 19.