2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Panthers arrive at camp with sense of urgency

By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-26 02:33

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - Tight end Greg Olsen says the Carolina Panthers need to have a sense of urgency this summer at training camp after the team's sluggish starts the past two seasons.

Five-time Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith couldn't agree more.

``A sense of urgency is an understatement,'' said Smith, the team's senior statesman entering his 13th season.

The Panthers started 1-6 last season and 1-5 in 2011.

And while the Panthers finished strong both seasons they weren't able to dig themselves out of that early hole and reach the playoffs.

Coach Ron Rivera enters his third season squarely on the hot seat, barely keeping his job after going 13-19 the past two seasons.

He can't afford another slow start.

``Slow starts will get you fired, cut and bring change real quick for everyone,'' Smith said.

The Panthers team that arrived at Wofford College on Thursday for training camp bears a strong resemblance to the group that finished last season with four straight wins. The only regular starters who've moved on are cornerback Chris Gamble and linebacker James Anderson.

While players' opinions varied on the importance of last year's strong finish, they all agree on the need to be ready when September rolls around.

``We can't put ourselves in that hole and think a late six-game push is going to put us over the top when you start the season 2-8,'' Olsen said. ``We need those late-season pushes, but that is to put you into the playoffs not to just salvage a season. And that's kind of how it's been the last couple of years - the games at the end of the season, even though they're good to win, they kind of became meaningless.

``We need to make those games in November and December real and the only way to do that is to put ourselves in playoff contention.''

Olsen believes the key to starting fast is identifying the team's strengths heading into the season.

Rivera said earlier this offseason there will be more of an emphasis on getting running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart more involved in the offense.

Although Williams and Stewart have both proven capable of spearheading a top-notch rushing attack in the past, it was quarterback Cam Newton who led the team in rushing last season with 741 yards.

Stewart, who is recovering from surgery on both ankles this offseason, said he will not be ready for Friday night's first practice.

He said there is a still a substantial level of pain in his right ankle and isn't sure when he'll be ready to get on the field.

``They found a lot of loose bodies hanging out in my ankles and they cleaned that up,'' Stewart said. ``Right now I'm just left with the damage that the loose bodies have caused. So that's what I'm working through.''

Linebacker Jon Beason is trying to bounce back from microfracture surgery on his right knee and said he'll miss the start of camp, too.

Beason has missed 27 of the last 31 games with injuries.

He said there's a chance he won't practice much at all this summer so he can rest for the regular season.

``I'm not great right now and I can admit that,'' Beason said. ``But we still have time. I'm optimistic about that. I've done everything I can do at this point. It's a waiting game.''

Carolina hasn't been to the playoffs since 2008.

Offensive tackle and co-captain Jordan Gross said he likes the idea that the Panthers are flying under the radar this season and that pundits aren't placing much faith in them.

``We're in a nice spot with this team,'' Gross said. ``There are some people who think we can be good but nobody is picking us to be first in the division. That's a good spot to be in because there is less pressure on us and just lets us do our thing down here at camp and get ready.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Brandon BrownerOct 30 04:32p

New England Patriots DT Alan Branch (non-injury related) and DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Nate Ebner (finger), DL Dominique Easley (knee), OL Cameron [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 30 04:22p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DT Domata Peko (toe) and OT Andre Smith [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 30 04:22p

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot), CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and S Jahleel Addae (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) was limited. CB [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 30 04:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) practiced fully Thursday, Oct. 30.

Terrell SuggsOct 30 04:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot) and LB Terrell Suggs (neck) all did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Marshal Yanda (knee) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 30 03:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) and SS Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and FS [ More ]

Bruce CarterOct 30 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (finger) suffered a broken ring finger during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, but expects to play in Week 9. He will wear a splint on his finger for protection.

Cullen JenkinsOct 30 03:12p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) were both limited in practice.

Brandon BoykinOct 30 03:12p

Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. TE Brent Celek (back) and WR Brad Smith (groin) were both limited in practice. CB [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 30 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (toe), DT Arthur Jones (ankle), LB Erik Walden (quadriceps) and LB Josh McNary (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Vontae [ More ]

Rashad JenningsOct 30 02:42p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) said he is on track in terms of his rehab, but there is no timetable for his return. Jennings said he has [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 02:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Anthony CollinsOct 30 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Oniel Cousins is working at left tackle with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, because OT Anthony Collins (foot) is sitting out practice.

Doug MartinOct 30 02:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Jason VerrettOct 30 01:52p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks with a torn labrum, according to two sources.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 30 01:52p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will start the team's Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Oct. 30, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 01:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) received most of the work with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, and will start in Week 9 if he [ More ]

Jaylen WatkinsOct 30 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles SS Earl Wolff, FS Chris Maragos and CB Jaylen Watkins could be options to start at safety if FS Nate Allen (hamstring) is not able to play in Week 9.

Giovani BernardOct 30 01:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 01:02p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) didn't take part in the walk-through Thursday, Oct. 30, and will not practice with the team. However, head coach Jason Garrett remains hopeful [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Reggie WayneOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 12:22p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo's (back) status is making head coach Jason Garrett feel optimistic about his availability for Week 9.

Dallas ThomasOct 30 11:43a

Miami Dolphins OG Dallas Thomas would be the most likely candidate to start at left guard if OG Daryn Colledge (illness) is not able to play in Week 9.

Rashad JenningsOct 30 11:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) has been ruled out for Week 9.

Phil BatesOct 30 10:52a

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agent WR Phil Bates (Seahawks) to the practice squad and released CB Marcus Cromartie Thursday, Oct. 30.

Charles SimsOct 30 10:13a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims could have 10 or more touches in Week 9, in the opinion of beat writer Greg Auman.

Ryan MathewsOct 30 09:52a

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) is likely to sit out of the Week 9 game and return after the Week 10 bye.

Dennis PittaOct 30 09:52a

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) may never be able to play football again after two surgeries on a fractured and dislocated hip in as many seasons.

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