NEWS OF THE DAY
The San Diego Chargers were already favored. The line probably moved Saturday.
WR Steve Smith was suspended two games for punching CB Ken Lucas in a sideline scuffle Friday morning. Lucas came out of it with a broken nose, though his injuries aren't going to keep him off the field long-term. Lucas came through the locker room before the scrimmage, but didn't participate.
WHAT WE LEARNED
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There's enough depth on defense they can still make plays. Working against the second offense, the starting D (including world-renowned DTs Stephen Williams and Gary Gibson) allowed just 47 yards in 12 plays, and 41 of those came on a pass interference penalty on CB Richard Marshall.
Of course, Marshall made up for it on the following play by planting TE Chris Conklin after a short gain.
With Smith not there and Ryne Robinson hurt, WR Jason Carter caught the day's only touchdown. He had a rough day earlier this week, dropping a few pass in red-zone drills, but has bounced back nicely. In fact, with Smith's suspension, he's looking like a good bet to be on the roster and likely on the field when the Panthers open the regular season.
The middle of the second line (LG Milford Brown, C Geoff Hangartner and RG Toniu Fonoti) should have looked better against the third-string defensive tackles they were facing -- who just happened to be working with the ones. They neither cleared much room in the running game nor protected Matt Moore very well.
DID YOU SEE THAT?
It's easy to tell QB Jake Delhomme trusts WR Muhsin Muhammad. He hit him for a nice 26-yard gain after a defensive penalty (which they declined), and also squeezed one his way for a 5-yard gain on third-and-3. Muhammad might be more important this year when Smith's missing time than in 2004, when Smith missed all but one game.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
Delhomme's passer rating, completing 5-of-8 passes for 60 yards and a score.
The new big scoreboard video screens looked good, and the sound system's been improved. They've also painted some new murals on the walls that line the sides of the field, including four Panthers' logos on each side. So please, no petitions.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"We have to go forward, it's plain and simple. He missed the first two games two years ago due to a hamstring injury, but I can promise you that we're light years ahead offensively than we were two years ago. Other guys need to step up. Thankfully, we have Moose and D.J. Hackett, and Dwayne (Jarrett) is coming on. We all need to step up." -- Delhomme, on the tangible impact of Smith's absence against the Chargers and Bears.
After spending a night in their own beds (at least the one's with residences here), the Panthers report back to camp tonight for meetings. They'll practice twice Monday, at 9:10 a.m. and 6:40 p.m.