Carolina Panthers

Injuries continue to pile up for Hackett

SPARTANBURG -- When the Panthers signed wide receiver D.J. Hackett, he came with the reputation of being injury plagued.

He's done nothing since he's been here to dispel it.

Hackett isn't expected to play in tonight's preseason opener after suffering a toe injury this week, but coach John Fox said Friday that Hackett's still "day-to-day," and not the more sinister "week-to-week" designation.

"With all players, you prefer they be out there," Fox said when asked if Hackett's condition had worsened. "The reality is, there are going to be nicks and they're going to miss time. Any time you get a new player, you like him to build his own history with you.

"He was having a real good camp. Obviously this is a setback, but one we'll work through."

Hackett played in just 33 of a possible 64 games in his four years with Seattle, and was bothered by lower-body injuries much of the time.

Since he's come to camp, he's gotten plenty of days off to rest a swollen knee, and then missed the back half of this week after injuring his toe Wednesday morning. He hasn't even rejoined the players working on the sidelines during practice, meaning he's still inside getting treatment.

• NO SUCH LUCK: The Panthers have a short week after Saturday's game, with a quick turnaround before next Thursday's game at Philadelphia.

But it's not quite enticing enough to make Fox think about cutting camp short.

He was asked Friday if there was any consideration to not returning to Wofford College, and he let it hang there for a moment as if to tease reporters and players alike.

"That'd be a no," he finally said, squashing the rumor.

They'll take Sunday off but then practice twice Monday (9:10 a.m. and 6:40 p.m.) and once Tuesday (3:10 p.m.). They'll have their short walk-through in Spartanburg on Wednesday morning before bussing back to Charlotte to fly to Philadelphia.

• BOYS IN THE 'HOOD: Panthers punter Jason Baker will get a chance to catch up with some of his friends and neighbors tonight.

Baker grew up in Fort Wayne, Ind., and still lives in Carmel, Ind. (a suburb of Indianapolis) during the offseason. He calls punter Hunter Smith one of his closest friends, and Colts tight end Dallas Clark lives on his street.

"It's a good opportunity to play against guys I'm going to rub shoulders with all offseason," Baker said. "So I have to do well and we win, so I can get some bragging rights back."

He had none after the Panthers 31-7 loss last year, and he laughed when asked if he wanted to help check Clark as he does in their "pretty competitive" neighborhood games.

"I want nothing to do with that," he said. "I'll let one of tour-trained professionals deal with him. He's a tough guy to cover. So I'll let somebody else deal with that."

• KINGS OF AUGUST: Since Fox took over in 2002, the Panthers are a solid 16-8 in the preseason, including perfect records in 2003, 2004 and 2006.

For what that's worth.

"I don't know what we're going to do," quarterback Jake Delhomme said. "Some teams will game plan, but we're still installing. We are trying to get the Carolina Panthers ready. Preseason record, ... you want to win, but someone told me I think the Colts are 2-13 the last 15 preseason games. Hey, it doesn't mean much."

• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers will be without four defensive starters and most of their tight ends tonight.

Linebacker Jon Beason, safety Chris Harris and cornerbacks Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble won't play, though Beason, Harris and Gamble might return to practice next week. With three tight ends (Gary Barnidge, Chris Conklin and Dante Rosario) on the side, starter Jeff King and reserve Chad Upshaw are going to get more time than they bargained for. ...

Delhomme, wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, defensive end Julius Peppers, linebacker Thomas Davis and kicker John Kasay will serve as game captains tonight. Players will select captains for the year the week before the regular season.

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