Carolina Panthers

Harris gets more comfortable with new 'D'

CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers safety Chris Harris acknowledged he's made some mistakes.

But he was quick to point out that all of them were the fixable sort, the kind he hopes won't repeat themselves once he knows the Panthers' system better.

The de facto veteran of the Panthers' safety corps, Harris misjudged on a deep ball against Philadelphia two weeks ago and left a tight end open for an easy touchdown last week against New England, lessons he's said he's learned.

Harris, acquired in a trade with Chicago early in camp, said he and rookie linebacker Jon Beason had a misunderstanding over who was supposed to have Marcellus Rivers, who caught the ball from Tom Brady with no one near.

"Our communication wasn't that great," Harris said. "That was a learning mistake, a very correctable mistake. You won't see that happen again. Myself and the linebacker were in coverage, and we should have just switched them off but we didn't. It was myself and Beason, so two rookies, technically.

"That's one thing that won't happen again."

Harris needs to get things cleaned up quickly, because the team's counting on him to make a difference in the secondary. Especially with projected starter Nate Salley still out with a knee problem that cost him most of camp, the Panthers need Harris to be the dependable one back there.

When he got here, Harris said he thought the Panthers' system was similar to what he was doing with the Bears the last two years, when he started 20 games. It didn't take long for him to backtrack off that statement, figuring out more is demanded of him here.

"My first week here, I was kind of trying to learn Spanish in a week; now I think I'm speaking pretty fluent," he said. "Just from the scheme we ran in Chicago, it's totally different. A lot of learning, a lot of checks I had to learn in the back end. The safety in this defense has to be very vocal, and I'm starting to feel more comfortable as we keep going, staying in that playbook and making sure I'm on point.

"The first two games, if I had to give myself a grade, I'd give myself a B-minus, maybe a C-plus. I'm still learning. I made a few mistakes out there, but that's due to the newness of the defense. I'm just trying to learn on the fly, but I feel very comfortable in this defense compared to three weeks ago."

• ROSTER MOVES: The Panthers got down to the roster limit of 75 players Tuesday with four moves, none of them unexpected.

Former York Comprehensive standout wide receiver Josh Davis was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list. He won't be able to play this season, but he will get his $285,000 salary for the year.

Davis was having a solid camp and impressing coaches with his quick pick-up of the new system when he had an emergency appendectomy Aug. 19. That surgery was going to keep him off the field for an extended time, leading the Panthers to place him on the list Monday.

They also waived running back Marlion Jackson, waived-injured wide receiver Justin McCullum and placed rookie defensive end Rondell Biggs on injured reserve.

• EXTRA POINTS: Even though players from NFL Europe saw their roster exemptions expire Tuesday, the Panthers kept three players from the developmental league -- which indicates they've shown the coaching staff something. They kept defensive tackle Gary Gibson, guard Bobby Harris and French linebacker Phillipe Gardent. ... Gibson will get his final chance to show the Panthers something in a new number, turning in his old number 72 (which he shared with guard Rueben Riley) for the 91 which was vacated Sunday by cut defensive tackle Chad Lavalais. ... The Panthers have to get to the final roster limit of 53 players by Saturday, and can establish their eight-man practice squad beginning Sunday.

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