Jake Delhomme seems to be back on his game after a rough start this season. (Photo by John Clark)
CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers used a no-huddle offense to jumpstart their offense Sunday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be using it again Thursday against the Miami Dolphins.
Although he could be playing coy, quarterback Jake Delhomme said it’s unlikely the team will be running the no-huddle offense.
“I enjoy it, but to say you can do that throughout the course of the whole season, I don't think you can do that,” Delhomme said. “And certainly losing Jordan (Gross), I don't know how much we can really dive into it, especially on a short week.”
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano will be glad to hear that as he hadn’t seen the Panthers go to a hurry-up offense like that on game film before.
“We haven’t seen that,” Sparano said. “One of the things from our end is that it presents some challenges, particularly in a short week. It’s not the first time we’ve seen that type of deal this year. We played Indianapolis like that. It isn’t the first time and when you’re in a short week, communication is critical and it’s going to pull some challenges for us.”
However, Delhomme said the no-huddle offense is something the team will keep in its arsenal for later in the season.
“The good thing is, we can get into a lot of different formations,” Delhomme said of the no-huddle offense. “Guys can play multiple positions, so that's always good. You just kind of go from there.”
DELHOMME ON GROSS: The Panthers signed wide receiver Charly Martin off the practice squad Tuesday and officially placed Jordan Gross on injured reserve with broken right ankle as expected.
Delhomme said several players went to visit Gross after the surgery.
“In typical Jordan fashion, he apologizes for getting his leg broke,” Delhomme said. “He’s the type of guy who doesn’t want any attention.”
Delhomme said Gross’ biggest concern during his visit was being on the sidelines to support his team Thursday night.
“I told him, 'I don't think you need to be out there Thursday night. Rest up a little bit, you just had surgery,’” Delhomme said.
Coach John Fox said he thinks Martin can help the team on special teams.
BERNADEAU READY: With Gross out, the Panthers will count on Mackenzy Bernadeau replacing him in the starting lineup.
Bernadeau will make his first NFL start against Miami and Travelle Wharton will slide over the left tackle.
Bernadeau has a reputation for being a strong guy having won two strong man competitions at the gym he works out in back in New Jersey. But Delhomme said Bernadeau is more than just another muscle-head.
“I've played with guys here who were combine freaks who couldn't play dead,” Delhomme said. “You get some of those guys who are bigger, stronger, faster than some of these guys, but if they don't have the right footwork, you can't just, 'Grrr, beat everybody.' It's finesse, it's technique. We've have some guys here where it’s like, 'That's good, but who you blocking?'”
JOHNSON SITS OUT: The Panthers practiced without fullback Brad Hoover, free safety Charles Godfrey, defensive end Charles Johnson and running back Jonathan Stewart.
Hoover and Godfrey won’t play, but Stewart will.
The big question is Johnson, who was added to the injury report with a pectoral strain.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Damione Lewis, who has been playing at a high level, participated in practice on a limited basis.
For Miami, look for running back Ronnie Brown and tight end Anthony Fasano didn’t practice and are likely out this week.
THE SAME ROAD: You’ve heard of two ships passing in the night, well, the Panthers are Dolphins seem to be two ships on the same course traveling through some choppy waters.
“I think it's two teams mirror images of each other going on Thursday night,” Delhomme said. “Two teams, hey, both won divisions last year. Both had double-digit wins and they're just trying to get back to .500. We're doing some decent things and we've got to see if we can carry it over.”
ONE CHAD TO ANOTHER: The Dolphins are happy with the progress of Chad Henne, who took over for the injured Chad Pennington.
“Chad is getting better and better each week,” said coach Tony Sparano. “He’s starting to learn this game a little more at our level. He is starting to learn the things coverage wise, has great understandings of protections of what he’s seeing out there from a coverage standpoint. He’s just gotten better and better each week at something. I think that’s important.
“A couple of weeks ago we weren’t getting rid of the ball in a couple of situations and this week he threw the ball away and helped us in a couple of situations to avoid minus plays. The guy is getting better and better. He’s learning on the job out there, which I guess is the best situation he could have.”
Henne said he’s starting to feel comfortable in offensive coordinator Dan Henning’s system.
“I am understanding timing and the leadership role that I am taking in and just the game plan and understanding how to prepare during the week and how to handle myself as a starting quarterback,” Henne said. “It’s been going well and we’re off to a good start.”