Panthers Plan to Bring the Heat

The Panthers have only four sacks this season but are looking forward to Sunday's game against Todd Collins and the Bears.

Collins will start at quarterback for the Bears, which is a dangerous position for a 38-year-old to be in given the Bears surrendered 10 sacks last week in a loss to the New York Giants.

The Bears are 3-1 but have allowed 18 sacks.

When asked if Chicago's struggles protecting the quarterback get his blood pumping a little faster, Panthers defensive end Everette Brown smiled and said, "Yeah, yeah it does.

"You look for reasons why or how did they give up that many sacks, especially (nine) in the first half."

Brown believes the sacks stem from the Bears desire to get the ball downfield.

"They have guys who can stretch the field, fast wide receivers, and they have a quarterback (Jay Cutler), who can get it to them. A lot of their routes are long so that means he's had to sit in the pocket that extra second. If the rush doesn't get there, it's a long pass."

Brown thinks the Bears' game plan probably won't change much with Collins being a veteran quarterback.

"We won't prepare any different," Brown said. "(Collins) he doesn't scramble as much and have as much ability to scramble around. So we might see some different pocket protections. So we have to get a good pocket push as well as being able to collapse from the outside."

Defensive end Tyler Brayton said it's a little much to expect the Panthers to have an effort like the Giants did last week.

"That was last week and we have a new challenge this week," said Brayton. "I'm sure they are going to go back and fix any problems they had. It's going to be about what we do. I'm trying not to let that affect the game."

Brayton said from watching the Bears on tape it looked like they were having a variety of issues, not just one single thing the Panthers can focus on.

"It was different stuff," Brayton said. "It was different guys at different times. It wasn't one guy doing the same thing the whole time. It wasn't one particular move by one person. The Giants had a great collective effort."

WR David Gettis
Chuck Burton/AP
--The four wide receivers on the practice field this week for the Carolina Panthers have a combined 27 receptions, 390 yards and one touchdown -- for their careers.

Not all that imposing, is it?

With veteran Steve Smith sidelined for a few weeks with a high ankle sprain, David Clowney, who was claimed off waivers on Tuesday after Dwayne Jarrett's release, is the most experienced of the group with 16 career receptions for 239 yards and has the only touchdown among the four.

But his status for Sunday's game against Chicago largely depends on how much of the playbook he can digest this week.

Primarily a backup with the New York Jets, Clowney has only three NFL starts, but is hoping he can help out right away.

"I'm actually the old guy in the room with Steve being out," laughed Clowney, the only non-rookie receiver who'll suit up for Carolina on Sunday.

But the former Virginia Tech speedster is excited about an opportunity to jumpstart his career here.

"It's a little different here," Clowney said. "I'm used to being with (veterans) Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, and Braylon (Edwards). So I guess I can help these guys out with my playing time and experiences I've had. I'm excited about the possibility to be a starter with this organization, and I'm going to take full advantage of it."

Clowney figures he'll know enough of the playbook by the end of the week to be active.

"I got a lot of reps (in practice) with the ones and the twos and I think I'm coming along fast. I'm a quick learner," Clowney said. "I don't think I made any mistakes today with the reps that I had. Every NFL team runs the same routes and the same plays, it's just that the terminology is different. I don't think it will be too hard to catch on and get ready for the game."

Clowney was cut by the Jets in late August, but he re-signed with the team after clearing waivers.

The Panthers contemplated claiming Clowney off waivers back then, but decided against it, instead sticking with the young group they have. But Smith's injury and Jarrett's arrest on DWI charges necessitated the need to make the move this time around.

"Hopefully I get a chance to start this week and if not I'll go in whenever the coaches need me and make plays for the team," Clowney said.

Clowney said because of his speed coming out of college he was labeled in New York as a "deep threat guy" and didn't get a chance to do much else.

"I've been with that coaching staff since my rookie year and I think sometimes when you're with an organization for a long period of time they put a stamp on you, good or bad," said Clowney, who was released Monday after the Jets activated Santonio Holmes, who returned after a four-game suspension. "Maybe being here I can get an opportunity to run different routes and be more involved as a complete receiver."

If Clowney starts, he'll likely be paired with David Gettis, who has started the last three games opposite Smith. The other option for the Panthers will be to start Brandon LaFell and bring Clowney in as the No. 3 receiver.

SERIES HISTORY: 5th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 2-2. The Panthers have won the only playoff matchup, that coming in 2005. In the last meeting, in 2008, the Panthers overcame a 17-3 second-half deficit to defeat the Bears 20-17. Jonathan Stewart had two scores, including the game-winner with 3:52 remaining.


DE Charles Johnson
Chris Graythen/Getty
--Julius Peppers said his only regret while playing for the Carolina Panthers is the way things ended.

Peppers, who makes his return to Charlotte this Sunday when the Panthers host the Chicago Bears, described his departure from Carolina after eight seasons as "a little sour" during a 19-minute conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

"I don't have a problem with them saying, 'OK, the lockout is coming up. The future of the league is uncertain and we're going to go in a different direction and we're going to do away with anybody who's going to make any significant amount of money, and we're going to keep young guys,'" Peppers said. "That's a business decision. I can understand that and respect that. I don't have a problem with that.

"The problem I have is they tried to turn the tables and make it look like I wanted out no matter what. And really, I didn't have the option to stay because it was never offered to stay."

Peppers said he actually wanted to re-sign with the Panthers after last season, but never received an offer.

By then, of course, the Panthers had decided to move on, remaking their roster with younger players, releasing veterans like Jake Delhomme, Damione Lewis, Maake Kemoeatu, Na'il Diggs and Brad Hoover.

The Panthers felt like they did everything they could to keep Peppers. They put the franchise tag on him and paid him nearly $17 million in 2009 and twice offered to make him the highest-paid defensive player in the league, although he turned down both offers.

After he was allowed to walk in free agency, Peppers said he never spoke with general manager Marty Hurney or coach John Fox, although he said he did exchange a couple of text messages with Fox.

"So that's why I say it ended a little sour," Peppers said. "I felt like it could have been a little more respectful, at least to say, 'Hey, it's been good. We're going in a different direction and we're going to let you go.' They couldn't even give me that. So that's why I say it's a little sour."

--Wide receiver David Gettis said Steve Smith being out doesn't add any pressure to the rest of the receivers.

"Not at all," Gettis said. "We just have make plays when our numbers are called and continue to help the offense move the ball and put points on the board and win some games."

Said coach John Fox: "We've got young guys there, and luckily we've got a couple of guys that have stepped in -- Brandon LaFell and David Gettis and we still have Armanti Edwards developing. With the addition of David Clowney, that gives us a veteran guy. It was time to move on, and we'll go from there."

--It will be interesting to see how the addition of WR David Clowney affects Armanti Edwards, the rookie receiver from Appalachian State who has yet to play in a game. The Panthers traded away a second-round pick in next year's NFL draft to get Edwards, but they haven't had the confidence to play him yet.

"Not having a rep in a regular season game yet, I can't really answer that," coach John Fox said when asked how ready Edwards is to play in a game. "But we have practice out here, and he's getting better. He knows his assignments; he can play more than one position, so he's definitely an option."

--It may not be showing up in the win-loss column yet, but coach John Fox likes the progress of rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

"I thought the real positive was he made a really, really big play on fourth-and-four (against the Saints) that gave us an opportunity," Fox said. "Unfortunately, we came up short. But plays like that. We did not turn the ball over at all offensively. That had been a bug-a-boo for us prior to that. So we did well with the ball security. I thought overall he made some good throws and some good decisions. I think he got better from his first game to his second game."

BY THE NUMBERS: 52.2 -- Panthers team passer rating this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There are a lot of No. 90 jerseys still around Charlotte, so I think he'll be welcomed. He's not a Panther anymore, and it didn't go down the way everybody would have liked it to, I don't think, but he meant so much to this team for so long that I'd be surprised if people didn't welcome him." -- Panthers LT Jordan Gross on how fans will greet Julius Peppers in his return to Carolina.


The Dwayne Jarrett era is finally over in Carolina.

The Panthers cut the underachieving wide receiver on Tuesday following his second DWI arrest in three years and claimed wide receiver David Clowney off waivers from the New York Jets to replace him.

"I talked to Dwayne and told him the situation here," general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement released by the team. "It is just not working out for either side. We had a chance to pick up off waivers a receiver (Clowney) we were considering claiming when he became available four weeks ago. We wish Dwayne the best."

Jarrett, a former second-round pick from Southern Cal, is sure to go down as one of the biggest busts in the John Fox-Hurney era along with Eric Shelton, another former second-round draft pick from Louisville. Jarrett finished his three-plus seasons with the Panthers with 428 receiving yards on 35 receptions, only one going for a touchdown. He had two receptions for 40 yards this season, both of those coming in the season opener against the New York Giants.

Despite constant support and praise from management, Jarrett never lived up to expectations in Carolina where the Panthers had hoped he'd emerge as the No. 2 receiver opposite Steve Smith. The Panthers cut Keyshawn Johnson back in 2007 just days after they selected Jarrett.


--WR Steve Smith (ankle) remains in an air cast and will not play this week against the Bears. The question will be if he can go when the team returns from the bye week. That may still be a little early for Smith.

--RT Jeff Otah (knee) still hasn't practiced this year and won't play this week against the Bears. Otah has missed all four games but the hope is he can return after the bye next week.

--FS Sherrod Martin (concussion) missed his second straight day of practice Thursday which likely means he won't play this week.

--FS Jordan Pugh, a rookie, is likely to start this week against the Bears with Sherrod Martin still recovering from a concussion.

--LB Jamar Williams (neck) practiced Wednesday, but did not work Thursday. It's unclear if he's had a setback, but that puts his status for Sunday's game in doubt.

--WR Brandon LaFell is expected to start opposite fellow rookie David Gettis on Sunday against the Bears. That means the Panthers will have a rookie quarterback throwing to two rookie wide receivers.

GAME PLAN: Given the Panthers will play three rookie receivers and a guy who has 16 career receptions, it's fairly obvious they will look to control things on the ground with running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

Defensively, the Panthers are looking forward to a shot at the Chicago Bears offensive line that surrendered 10 sacks last week to the New York Giants and surrendered 18 for the season.


Panthers LT Jordan Gross vs. Bears DRE Julius Peppers.

Gross and Peppers went against each other in practice for seven years, but they've never faced each other in a game, so this is a bit of a personal grudge match. "I know him real well; he knows me real well," Gross said. "I've never had this much familiarity with somebody I'm going against, and he could probably say the same thing about me. But it's the whole offensive line -- he's going to be on the right side probably as much as the left. He's a guy you've got to account for. He's a great player, and he makes a lot of plays. He's done a lot this year already." Panthers rookie WRs David Gettis and Brandon LaFell vs. Bears secondary.

The Panthers may start a rookie quarterback and a pair of rookie receivers. That's ideal for a Bears secondary and should allow Lovie Smith the freedom to blitz Jimmy Clausen from all angles. Carolina's receivers have to find a way to make plays in the absence of Steve Smith and take some pressure of Clausen.

Panthers DEs Charles Johnson and Everette Brown vs. Bears offensive line.

The Bears surrendered 10 sacks last week to the Giants, which should get any defensive end's blood pumping. The Panthers have only four sacks in four games so they're looking to take things out on the Bears.

INJURY IMPACT: The four Panthers who did not practice Wednesday were RB DeAngelo Williams (illness), WR Steve Smith (sprained ankle), SS Sherrod Martin (concussion) and RT Jeff Otah (knee). Williams should be fine for Sunday, but Smith and Otah will not play.

Panthers LB Jamar Williams (neck) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and should be ready to go when he faces his former team.

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