Carolina Panthers

Panthers actually played football on Saturday

Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams runs up the field during Fan Fest.
Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams runs up the field during Fan Fest.

CHARLOTTE -- Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, the Panthers starters had a good day.

During an intra-squad scrimmage overshadowed by the two-game suspension of wide receiver Steve Smith, both sides of the ball did things they didn't do a year ago.

The offense moved the ball efficiently through the air, with Jake Delhomme completing 5-of-8 passes for 60 yards and an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jason Carter.

They converted a pair of third downs (among three chances), including Delhomme's nifty pass to Carter coming out of the slot.

Granted, they were working against an injury-depleted second unit, but it served for progress.

On the other side, the first defense was dominant at times. Other than a 41-yard pass interference call on cornerback Richard Marshall (subbing for the broken-nosed Ken Lucas), they allowed Matt Moore and the second offense 6 net yards. The penalty did move Moore's group close enough for a 31-yard field goal by John Kasay.

They also "sacked" Moore -- there was no contact on the red-jerseyed quarterbacks -- three times. The loudest cheer of the day might have come when Julius Peppers nearly swallowed Moore whole he was in the backfield so fast. Granted, he wasn't blocked, but after registering 2.5 sacks last year, all on the road, the crowd of 14,675 at Bank of America Stadium was grateful to see it.

"I thought Jake looked sharp," coach John Fox said. "I think our offense looked pretty good for the first time out. Again, it's a 12-play scrimmage.

"I thought our pass rush on defense, first unit, stuck out. I thought it was good preparation, early on scrimmage, to get us ready for next Saturday night (in the preseason opener) against Indianapolis."

• UNDER THE RADAR: The Panthers feel good about the roster they've constructed, but the rest of the league doesn't seem so impressed.

Sporting News Today polled eight NFL scouts, one from each division, to rank the top five players at each position.

Only defensive end Julius Peppers made the top five, ranking fourth behind Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney and Osi Umenyiora.

Smith was the eighth receiver named, behind Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Braylon Edwards, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne.

Only five other Panthers even received votes.

Travelle Wharton was tied for sixth at tackle, even though he's playing guard this year, while Jordan Gross finished the poll tied for 12th.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason got a single vote for 12th at his spot, punter Jason Baker was eighth and John Kasay was 13th among kickers.

• EXTRA EYES: The Panthers have all hands on deck for the first two weeks of camp, with the entire scouting staff on hand.

For the Panthers, that means some new faces as well.

The Panthers lost college scouts Brian Adams and Joe Schoen over the offseason, as well as pro scout Tag Ribary.

They moved former defensive end Gerald Williams into Ribary's pro scouting role from his job on the college side, and hired three new college scouts.

The first was Jeff Beathard, the son of former Washington and San Diego general manager Bobby Beathard. They also promoted scouting intern Robert Haines to Williams' old role as combine scout, which also covers the Carolinas and Virgina. The last addition was veteran college scout John Peterson, who was last with Seattle.

The college scouts will disperse next Tuesday, while the pro scouts are hitting the road to check out the preseason games which begin this week as well.

• EXTRA POINTS: Over the last two weeks, the Panthers have worked out dozens of players, as they develop what NFL teams call the "emergency list." That's what they go to when there's an injury in camp and they need to find a quick replacement.

One of the players they checked out was Rock Hill's Arkee Whitlock, a running back from Southern Illinois. He spent time in Minnesota's camp last year, but was released by the Vikings in June.

He's not expected to be signed by the Panthers. ...

The Panthers were still short on numbers, with just 71 players dressed for the scrimmage.

Out were the suspended (Smith) and the injured (Damione Lewis, Maake Kemoeatu, Ian Scott, Darwin Walker, Ryne Robinson, Lucas, and Nate Salley), along with running back Jonathan Stewart. ...

Team officials said few than 1,700 tickets remained for Saturday's preseason opener against the Colts.

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