STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

ROOKIE REPORT: The Panthers continued to be impressed by the play of first-round draft pick Jordan Gross. "Jordan is mature beyond his years. He has come in here, and we have lined him up at starting right tackle. He has attacked that task, and I just see him getting better every time out," Panthers head coach John Fox said...

   One of the mild surprises when the Carolina Panthers reported to training camp last month was Jeno James working with the first team at left guard ahead of free agent pickup Doug Brzezinski.

   Well, three weeks into training camp nothing has changed.

   James is still hanging on to the starting job and shows no signs of letting up.

   A sixth-round draft pick in 2000, James has started 12 games during his three seasons with Carolina but has never been able to hold down a starting job. However, the soft-spoken 6-foot-3, 310-pound James has been persistent in his pursuit to get better.

   "You couldn't ask for a better attitude out of a guy," Panthers head coach John Fox said. "This young man has worked his butt off in the weight room, off the field. I am not sure there is a guy that wants it any worse than Jeno James."

   Fox said leaving James at left guard has been a key to his development.

   "What we have done with Jeno this year is just lined him up at left guard and have left him there," Fox said. "He hasn't gone out to tackle or played right guard. We just haven't moved him around. I think it is a lot better for him and his comfort level. He has performed well thus far."

   Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, who lines up across from James every day in practice, simply said, "Right now he's the best guy we have at that position."

 

 BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Dante Wesley vs. Ricky Manning Jr. for nickel cornerback spot -- Wesley played well as a rookie last year for the Panthers, but will be pushed for playing time by this year's third-round draft pick Ricky Manning Jr. Manning looks sharp and confident at the corner. Assuming Reggie Howard and Terry Cousin remain the team's starting corners, Wesley and Manning would vie for the nickel back spot. The Panthers are happy about the progress of all of their corners and as defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac said, "You can never have enough good corners."

 

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Jermaine Wiggins vs. Kris Mangum for starting TE -- Both will probably see a lot of playing time in two tight end sets so who starts is fairly irrelevant. But Wiggins appears to be doing a better job of catching the football.

 

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WR Ricky Proehl. The Panthers veteran receivers is catching everything throw his way and shows no signs of slowing down. He caught four passes for 76 yards in a preseason game against the Giants.

 

ROOKIE REPORT: The Panthers continued to be impressed by the play of first-round draft pick Jordan Gross. "Jordan is mature beyond his years. He has come in here, and we have lined him up at starting right tackle. He has attacked that task, and I just see him getting better every time out," Panthers head coach John Fox said... Seventh-round pick Walter Young is working with the first team at receiver with Steve Smith injured....


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