Will RT Jeff Otah be ready for the regular season opener? (Photo by John Clark)
Here's what happened at training camp on Wednesday...
HOT TOPIC: Panthers starting RT Jeff Otah underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday in Charlotte, but the hope is he'll be ready for the Sept. 12 season opener against the New York Giants.
Otah, who started training camp on the physically unable to perform list, was having some discomfort in the knee.
"It checked out pretty good - a typical scope," coach John Fox said. "We'll evaluate it week-to-week. I think it was a good move and something he will recover from pretty quickly."
When asked if Otah will be ready for the Giants, Fox said, "As with all injuries it's hard to tell, but that's the plan."
Otah has been a fixture at right tackle for the Panthers since being selected in the first round of the 2008 draft. He started 12 games as a rookie and 13 in 2009 before tearing the meniscus in his left knee late in the season. He finished the year on injured reserve and underwent surgery to fix the problem.
The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Otah played a key role in Carolina averaging 156.1 yards rushing per game and setting team records with 2,498 yards and 123 first downs in 2009. He opened rushing lanes for Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams to become the first set of teammates in NFL history to rush for more than 1,100 yards in the same year.
In 2008, he helped Williams and Stewart post a combined eight 100-yard rushing games in the second half of the season.
With out Otah, Geoff Schwartz has been running with the first team.
NOTABLE: The Panthers held a six-play goal-line scrimmage on Wednesday, their first true full-contact drill since the start of camp.
The offense dominated, scoring two touchdowns.
In a matchup of starters, the first-team offense took three plays to score from the 4-yard line, doing so on a 3-yard scoring run by RB Josh Vaughan, who exploded into the end zone behind a strong push on the left side of the line. (Regular starting RB DeAngelo Williams sat out the drill, although he did plenty of trash talking.)
The second team needed only one play to get in, scoring a 4-yard toss from QB Hunter Cantwell to TE Dante Rosario after the defense bit hard on a play-action fake.
The third team only got two plays off and newly acquired RB Dantrell Savage was stuffed for a loss on the final run by LB Mortty Ivy.
INJURY UPATE: In all, 14 guys sat out the morning practice, including CB Chris Gamble, who missed his second straight day with a knee problem, and S Aaron Francisco (hamstring).
On the bright side, CB Richard Marshall (back) and OT Jordan Gross (day of rest) returned to practice.
CAMP BATTLES: With LG Travelle Wharton getting the day off, Duke Robinson stepped in as the starter at RG with Mackenzy Bernadeau sliding over to the LG spot. Bernadeau is clearly the leader in the clubhouse at RG, although the Panthers do like the size of Geoff Schwartz and Robinson.
Robinson seems to be rounding into shape after missing the first five days of camp because of conditioning concerns.
INSIDE THE GAME: When a defensive player drops an interception it’s tradition here at camp for him to hit the turf and give 10 pushups. Rookie CB Robert McClain had to just that when a ball deflected off a receiver and in and out of his hands. It would have been a tough catch for McClain to make, but he clearly felt like he should have had it.
You can’t underestimate the importance of accountability.
WHO IMPRESSED: DE Everette Brown drew loud praise from DL coach Brian Baker (is there any other kind?) during pass-rush drills after using some great technique to beat his man to the inside. Brown’s biggest asset is his quick first step and that’s something he’s really working on mastering here at training camp. If he does that, he can be a 10-sack guy easily. Brown spent extensive time studying himself on tape this past off-season and wasn’t thrilled with what he saw. He said he needs to be more consistent.
AND WHO DIDN’T: Despite what special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers says about him, I wasn’t real impressed with Jason Baker’s kickoffs on Wednesday. Hey, maybe I’ve watched too many of Rhys Lloyd’s high, booming kickoffs, but Baker’s kicks seem to be more of the low line-drive variety. He has time to get better at it, but as good of a punter as he is, I don’t ever recall Baker being great at kickoffs.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS: The speedy Armanti Edwards slowed down just long enough after Wednesday afternoon’s practice to sign autographs for a couple of youngsters from Charlotte, Elijah and Ethan Johnson. Both boys were wearing the gold and black No. 14 jersey that Edwards wore at Appalachian State.
The boys’ father, Elando Johnson, played cornerback at Appalachian State with Matt Stevens, who went on to play eight seasons in the NFL. The family remains big fans of Mountaineer football and were among the many in the area thrilled when the Panthers drafted Edwards.
“It’s the thrill of a lifetime for them,” Elando Johnson said of his sons receiving Edwards’ autograph.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Rookie WR David Gettis has been quiet this camp, but he got some defensive backs to bite on an out-and-up move and hauled in an easy touchdown pass from Cantwell.
THEY SAID IT: QB Matt Moore on people who keep asking him how he’s changed this year: “Everybody keeps saying how things are changed and I keep coming up with some crazy answer. Nothing has really changed, to be honest with you. Nothing has changed. The one little thing is maybe my voice is heard a little bit more. Other than that, everything is really the same. Guys have responded well. If I am doing something different I don't know it and the guys have responded in a good way to it. Being that leader and being labeled a leader, that's what you want. But I think being a quarterback it comes kind of automatically. I'm just me being me and hoping to lead the team.”
BEHIND THE SCENES: Moore said one thing he has done – and this is noticeable – is talk more to his receivers after certain plays.
“I’m finding out what's on their mind and kind of getting it all worked out immediately. I like to get feedback right now instead of waiting,” Moore said.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Panthers practice Thursday at 3:10 p.m.