Mike Goodson knows he needs to start hanging on to the football better. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Carolina Panthers running back Mike Goodson has turned to the video tape to help correct his fumbling problem.
Goodson said he’s been watching old cutups of former NFL running back Tiki Barber, who went from having an early reputation for fumbling too much to a Pro Bowl running back with the New York Giants.
Goodson fumbled twice during Saturday night’s preseason win over the Giants.
He lost one at the Panthers 25-yard line while the other bounced out of bounds. That comes on the heels of a season where he fumbled three times in the final two regular season games, losing two of those.
“I have to keep working on keeping the ball high and tight,” Goodson said. “I think it happens when you try to make extra yards and you get in piles and you don’t wrap the ball up.”
Of course, that’s easier said than done for a player like Goodson, a speedy, slashing runner who isn’t afraid to throw a juke or a spin move on someone to create more space and get into the open field.
“When you make cuts you have get your keep the ball close to your body,” Goodson said.
Goodson said he’ll need to change his focus slightly from being explosive to hanging on to the football.
“He’s going to have to learn to protect the football,” coach Ron Rivera said. “I told him he’s too good of a football player to give up on, but we expect him to do the things he needs to do to get getter and hold on to the ball. I told him that and he said, ‘Yes sir, I’ll get it done.’”
Nobody feels worse about the issue than Goodson.
“It’s real frustrating because you want to make plays and that’s the worst feeling in the world is to fumble the ball because you feel like you have let your team down,” Goodson said.
Barber led the NFL with 35 fumbles -- he lost 17 -- from 2000-03. That was before Giants coach Tom Coughlin was hired and ordered the then 29-year-old running back to change the way he carries the football.
INJURY UPDATE: LB Thomas Davis has been cleared to play Friday night against Miami. It will be his first action since the early part of the 2009 season.
Among those who remained out of practice were LB Jon Beason (Achilles), OT Jeff Otah (knee), OG Geoff Schwartz (hip), DE Greg Hardy (foot/skin) and FS Charles Godrey (family matters). With backup OT Garry Williams sitting out, the Panthers gave undrafted rookie Byron Bell from New Mexico a chance to run with the first team.
Goodson left practice a little early but said he was fine.
KICKOFF RETURNS: Goodson fielded the opening kickoff against the Giants seven yards deep in the end zone and brought it out to the 22-yard line. While that might have been a little too deep, he said he has free reign to bring anything out that is less than five yards.
“If they think I can get to the 20, they want me to bring it out,” Goodson said.
FUA MAKING AN IMPACT: The popular thinking was Terrell McClain would have a better chance of starting right away at defensive tackle than fellow third-round draft pick Sione Fua.
But the season-ending injury to Ron Edwards changed all of that.
Fua is a more natural nose tackle, which is the position Edwards played, and has a firm grasp right now on the starting position. McClain is playing behind another former third-round draft pick Corvey Irvin, although there is still time to move up the depth chart.
“I feel like I did pretty well (against the Giants),” Fua said. “I made some plays in there and I did well. The first few plays I was nervous and I think going from this week to next week I want to let loose a little bit.”
It’s possible the Panthers could explore bringing in DT Tank Johnson, who was cut Tuesday by Cincinnati. Johnson played three seasons under Rivera in Chicago. However, the problem is whether or not Johnson’s knees are shot, something which might preclude the Panthers from making such a move.
WHOLE LOT OF MONEY: Panthers DE Charles Johnson said he plans to use some of his $30 million signing bonus to buy his mother a new house in Hawkinsville, Ga.
He’s also planning on buying a Lamborghini for himself in the near future.
“Black and red, man,” Johnson said. “(University of) Georgia colors."
SPECIAL TEAMERS: Rivera said he’s been pleased with his special teams units, pointing out a few players in particular, including PR Armanti Edwards.
Rivera also said WR Charly Martin, LB Thomas Williams, WR Kealoha Pilares, LB Sean Ware and CB Kendric Burney have also stood out.
“You've got to pay attention to guys like that,” Rivera said. “There are several guys that could help themselves by playing well on special teams.”
RECEIVER SITUATION: It seems five receivers have begun to distance themselves from the rest of the pack here in the early portion of the preseason – Steve Smith, Legedu Naanee, Brandon LaFell, Edwards and Pilares.
“We've got some guys that are stepping up and making things happen,” Rivera said. “I was real excited to see Brandon LaFell make some plays. Legedu Naanee is just consistent. We have a background with him so we know what he's about and that's a good thing for us. Then other guys that could help in that situation - Armanti, obviously, is one of them as is Pilares with the big-play ability. The run after catch is always exciting.”
That could leave guys like Martin, Wallace Wright and David Clowney on the outside looking in.
THE CAM FACTOR: The television numbers for Saturday's preseason game against the Giants have risen dramatically compared to last year's preseason opener, according to a team spokesman. Viewership is up 19 percent from last year in the Charlotte area, 54 percent in the Triad, 64 percent in Greenville/Spartanburg and 91 percent in Raleigh.
Thank you, Cam Newton.
RIVERA GIVES A YELL: WR Charly Martin and CB Chevis Jackson exchanged shoves and words on two consecutive plays, prompting Rivera to step and scream, "Enough! Get back to the huddle!" The man doesn't raise his voice often, but when he does you definitely can hear him.
PRACTICE CHANGE: The Panthers will wrap up training camp after Wednesday morning’s 10:30 practice. The practice was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Rivera said he wanted to give players an opportunity to get home Wednesday and get off their feet.