The Panthers remain optimistic that outside linebacker Mark Fields will be back on the field in 2004 and possibly participate in the team's May minicamp.
Fields, a full-time starter in 2002, missed all of last season after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.
"All the indications I've gotten is things are going as well as possible," coach John Fox said Feb. 10. "Whenever you deal with something of that magnitude, you never want to assume too much, but all indications I've gotten is things are going as well as possible."
Fields was replaced this past season by Greg Favors and there was a significant drop-off in production at that position.
Because of his speed, Fields allowed the entire defense to do more things. The Panthers essentially had to hide Favors because of his lack of speed.
The big question, of course, is if Fields is able to return to the level he played at in 2002, where some believed he should have received Pro Bowl consideration.
Fields' speed and burst will be watched closely in the offseason by his coaches. Fields is not only a solid player, but also considered a top-notch off-the-field guy for the Panthers and there are a lot of people who want to see him come back and succeed.