Carolina Panthers

Panthers look for help at safety

CHARLOTTE -- Maybe the good feelings they stirred up by re-signing wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad had the Panthers looking for more nostalgia.

Looking for an upgrade at safety, the Panthers have contacted the agent for short-time Panther Marlon McCree.

McCree came to Charlotte in 2005 on a near minimum-wage deal, and parlayed a good season (second on the team in tackles) into a huge contract (five years, $16 million) from San Diego. That he hit free agency the year the salary cap went up 20 percent helped him cash in. But the Chargers cut him this week, leaving him looking for work again.

He's played for four teams in his seven NFL seasons, bouncing from Jacksonville to Houston to the Panthers to the Chargers.

He's scheduled to go to Cincinnati and Miami (since the Dolphins are signing everyone else) as well this weekend before making a decision.

McCree, who'll turn 31 in March, has a similar game to current Panthers strong safety Chris Harris. Both are excellent against the run, and not afraid to go for big hits and big plays. But both also give up plays over the top from time to time.

• D-LINE VISITS: The Panthers had former Atlanta defensive tackle Rod Coleman in for a physical Friday, and later in the day they hosted former Oakland first-rounder Tyler Brayton.

Coleman's also received interest from Tampa Bay, where he visited Wednesday. His agent, Pat Dye, did not return messages seeking comment Friday.

Brayton is expected to continue his visit today, and has a trip to Indianapolis scheduled for Sunday, according to his agent. There have been no serious contract talks yet, though Brayton figures to be a bargain compared to the deals which were struck on day one of free agency. He has 6.0 sacks in five seasons, as the Raiders bounced him from the line to linebacker without much success at either spot.

• EXTRA POINTS: The market's been slow for most of the Panthers' own free agents, though wide receiver Keary Colbert visited Denver on Friday. ...

The line of the day came from Panthers general manager Marty Hurney, when asked if he considered Damione Lewis a starter now that they've finally traded defensive tackle Kris Jenkins.

"I'd say if we had to line up today, he would be," Hurney said. It was then pointed out that Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu were the only two defensive tackles on the roster at the moment. Laughing, Hurney said they had just finished a deal for late-season practice squad call-up Gary Gibson. "So we've got three now," he added.