Carolina Panthers

New Panthers learning playbook on the fly

CHARLOTTE -- New Carolina Panthers safety Marquand Manuel spent most of the afternoon holed up with defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac and secondary coaches Tim Lewis and Mike Gillhamer.

But as much as he's learning about them, they're still learning about him.

Manuel's first name was actually spelled "Manquand" over his locker Tuesday, but the equipment staff hustled that away, replacing it with a piece of white tape with his name spelled correctly.

Fitting in on the fly's kind of his theme, as he's not ever sure what or how much he'll play Sunday in the regular season opener at St. Louis. He started 16 games for Green Bay last year, so he's obviously capable, provided he can learn what the Panthers will ask of him.

"That's up to the coaches, not up to me," Manuel said Tuesday when asked if he'll be ready to go against the Rams. "That is part of the job. That's why I'm still here. They had training camp and minicamp and I was going over a whole different defense. There are probably some similarities, but the coaches are working with me.

"But I haven't even practiced one time, just to get out there and make the same calls, the same checks, just to get a feel for how everything goes on."

Whether he plays or not, he walked in the door here the most seasoned safety on the Panthers' roster. He has 36 starts in five years, almost twice the rest of the roster combined.

"I wouldn't say that," Manuel said when the inexperience was mentioned. "Deke (Cooper) played and Nate (Salley) is not a rookie, and just from that standpoint just being around the other guys. When you have other vets around it's hard to say a guy's a rookie. Chris (Harris) is not a rookie, it's hard to say that."

• IN THE MARKET AGAIN: Cornerback Dante Wesley was also getting caught up, but then he had to leave to try to find a place to stay.

Wesley had a home here, but sold it after he signed with Chicago prior to the 2006 season. The Bears traded him to New England during camp, but the Patriots cut him, leaving him scrambling to get his family here from the Windy City.

"When I left I sold it," Wesley said with a laugh of his old Charlotte home. "I wish I would have kept it now. It's funny how things work out. Like I said, it's good to be back."

Wesley said so many of the faces he saw were familiar, the building's the same, and the special teams playbook was identical to when he left here.

"I have always thought of coming back," he said. "With the situation in Chicago, getting traded to New England, I didn't know what was going to pan out for me. But I knew if anything happened, I felt like I'd have a home in Carolina and that proved to be true.

"I feel like I never left. It'll probably take me one day to figure everything back out."

• TAG, YOU'RE IT: Speaking of getting here in a hurry, new tackle Frank Omiyale didn't have time to change his colors Sunday night before making the drive up from Atlanta.

Tuesday afternoon, Omiyale's truck still had a Falcons license plate, a sign of the team he's spent the last two years with.

"I might just go rip it off," he said with a laugh. "I haven't had a chance to do that. I'm fixing to do that now though."

• CHANGE IN PLANS: New third quarterback Matt Moore said Tuesday he figured he'd be on the Dallas practice squad right now, rather than on the Panthers' 53-man roster after being claimed off waivers. The Panthers actually made a run at the Oregon State product after the draft, but he signed with the Cowboys figuring he'd have a better chance to make the roster.

After all, the Panthers had an established third in Brett Basanez, while the Cowboys looked like they might just keep two with Tony Romo and Brad Johnson.

"A little bit," Moore said when asked if he heard from the Panthers after the draft. "A a few teams (called), but I kind of ended up in Dallas. But I'm here now; funny how things work out."

Like Manuel, Moore was getting schooled up by coaches all afternoon, since he'll be in uniform Sunday in St. Louis as the emergency third.

"They're kind of taking it easy right now," Moore said of his crash course. "They're giving it to me a little bit at a time, and kind of picking it up on the fly."

• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers have finalized an injury settlement with tight end Michael Gaines, who was placed on injured reserve with a minor shoulder injury Sunday. The Panthers usually maintain lockers for players on IR, but all of Gaines' stuff was gone Tuesday. They also parted ways with defensive end Rondell Biggs the same way, giving him a settlement last week. ... The Panthers rounded out their practice squad by signing offensive tackle Kevin Sampson, who was with Kansas City. He's actually started seven games in the league, providing a solid guy to work against in practice. ... Oddest sight in the locker room Tuesday: Practice squad safety C.J. Wilson in the locker Mike Minter occupied for 10 years.

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