Carolina Panthers

Players-only meeting a success

CHARLOTTE -- There wasn't nearly as much talking as the day before, but all the Panthers interviewed Thursday said their players-only meeting was a success.

There were few specifics given, but the environment was more loose. Apparently, they talked about urgency, starting fast, and things of the like, along with the pressure that comes with high expectations.

"Guys started off and then it was like 'If anyone else has anything to say, speak,'" cornerback Ken Lucas said. "I mean, that's how it went. It was free speech. We didn't have any judge or a mediator, all the coaches were out of there, it was just players only. I think it was very productive and no one got mad, nothing was taken personal, everybody aired their feelings out. And I think it was very good.

"As you can see, everyone was out there having fun today, laughing and carrying on, even though we're being ridiculed a lot right now. The meeting was good for us. I think we'll go out and perform well Sunday."

That's the key, as they needed to turn things around after a worse-than-it-sounds 2-2 start.

Most of the impressions of the meeting were brief, which figured since guard Mike Wahle (the guy who called the meeting) wasn't wild about word getting out beforehand.

"What are you talking about?" fullback Brad Hoover said with a grin when asked how it went.

"Yeah, it was good. That's it," defensive end Mike Rucker said. "I got positive vibes. The cup is half-full."

Coach John Fox said he had no problem with the get-together, saying: "I think most of my experiences, they were good."

"The game is played by players," Fox said. "So occasionally they deserve a meeting."

Even the guy whose remarks sparked the whole thing didn't want to delve deeply into the topic. Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, whose "We have no heart, we have no energy, we have no pride," statement started a week of talk about chemistry, laughed and tried to fend off reporters.

"I've done talked enough for the whole season," Jenkins said. "I'm on time-out."

"Just because I had one moment where I spoke to you all and spoke my mind doesn't mean I'm in the business of telling my team's business," he continued. "That's basically it. It's something that is between the players and is not up for discussion."

• BACK IN THE SADDLE: Running back DeAngelo Williams got back into the kick return business last week, and he's one of the guys they're looking at doing it this week if Nick Goings (concussion) doesn't return.

"Oh sure, oh yeah," he replied when asked if he was eager to do it again. "... getting the opportunity to get your hands on the first possession and make good things happen is unbelievable."

He was the primary returner earlier last season, raising hopes during a preseason in which he averaged 38.7 yards per return, including a 98-yarder for a touchdown against Miami in the preseason. But he failed to replicate that success in the regular season, averaging a pedestrian 19.5 yards before losing the job to the slow and steady Goings.

That's part of the reason he's excited, since he knows better now what to do, after admittedly free-lancing in college. He said small things such as being able to tell which way they ball's coming based on the kicker's stance and set-up have helped immeasurably.

"Oh yes, understanding the intent of the return," Williams said. "When he (special teams coach Danny Crossman) said that last year I thought he was speaking some other foreign language. I didn't quite understand what he was talking about. But this year, it's clear to me and I'm understanding what I'm actually watching."

• ONE DOWN, ... : Rookie receiver Dwayne Jarrett said Thursday there's a relief that his first NFL catch is behind him, after being inactive for the first three games and wondering when he'd get to play.

"You just have to take it one game at a time," Jarrett said. "Last week was in the past. I gave a sample of what I could do and now we move forward from there."

Fox said last week the team had a small set of plays planned for Jarrett, a group the player hopes grows as weeks pass.

"I just have to keep working hard," Jarrett said. "The more I keep working the more things start to open up. I'm starting to get a grasp of the offense. I'm starting to get the hang of it fully. It's been fun."

• EXTRA POINTS: A day after practicing on a limited basis, backup middle linebacker Adam Seward (calf) was out again Thursday. If he can't play, the Panthers would either have to stick with James Anderson in the middle or explore some of their other options, which Fox previously identified as shifting rookie Jon Beason in from the weakside. ... Quarterback Jake Delhomme (elbow), linebacker Dan Morgan (ankle/Achilles) and Goings were also held out Thursday, though running back DeShaun Foster returned to participate fully after getting the day off Wednesday (team decision).

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