Panther Insider Notes

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We never rule anything out. We will always look to upgrade at different positions." -- Panthers GM Marty Hurney.


Last year's trip to the Super Bowl will bring the Carolina Panthers even more television exposure this season.

The NFL announced the Panthers will open the 2004 regular season on ABC's Monday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 13.

The remainder of the 2004 regular-season schedule is expected to be announced by the NFL within the next couple of weeks.

If history repeats itself, the date with the Packers won't be Carolina's only appearance on Monday Night Football this season.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders each appeared three times on Monday Night Football after meeting in the Super Bowl the previous season. The Panthers, of course, lost 32-29 to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

The Panthers-Packers game features two 2003 playoff teams. The Panthers won the NFC South division title, while the Packers won the NFC North.

It will also mark the second time the two teams have met on Monday Night Football. In 2000, the Panthers defeated the Packers, 31-14, as fullback Brad Hoover rushed for 117 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries to become just the second rookie in team history to produce a 100-yard rushing effort.

Including the preseason, the Panthers' first three home games will be national telecasts from newly named Bank of America Stadium.

Carolina will square off against the New York Giants at 8:00 p.m. on FOX. Then on Saturday, Aug. 28, a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVIII will take place when New England visits Carolina at 8:00 p.m. on CBS. NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--The Panthers' offseason conditioning programs begins April 5 and the team could hand out more than $1.5 million in workout bonuses if all of their players participate in the four-day-a-week program.

--Expect coach John Fox, who took the Panthers to the Super Bowl in just his second season, to get a contract extension in the next few months. Fox is well liked in Carolina and has two years left on a four-year contract with the team. He is making about $1 million per season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We never rule anything out. We will always look to upgrade at different positions." -- Panthers GM Marty Hurney. STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: 1. Cornerback. The Panthers have added Artrell Hawkins, but may not be done here and expected to add either a veteran corner or take a rookie high in the draft. Don't rule out the Panthers trading for a corner either. 2. Wide receiver. The Panthers would like to add a speed receiver and this may be a position they address in the draft. 3. Free safety. The Panthers lost Deon Grant but may still look to sign free agent Rogers Beckett from Cincinnati or look for a replacement in the draft.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (3): TE Marco Battaglia; LB Lester Towns; OT Matt Willig.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (4): LB Brian Allen; S Jarrod Cooper; FB Nick Goings; S Travares Tillman.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS (2): WR Eugene Baker; LB Vinny Ciurciu.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: CB William Hampton; PK John Kasay; LS Jason Kyle; TE Kris Mangum; DE Kavika Pittman; OG Tutan Reyes; RB Rod Smart; WR Steve Smith; OT Melvin Tuten; DE Al Wallace.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: LB Jessie Armstead; CB Artrell Hawkins; OT Adam Meadows; LB Brandon Short; OG Rich Tylski; DT Rod Walker.

PLAYERS LOST: LB Mike Caldwell; CB Terry Cousin; OG Kevin Donnalley; WR Kevin Dyson; LB Greg Favors; WR Larry Foster; S Deon Grant; CB Reggie Howard; OG Jeno James; OT Todd Steussie; TE Jermaine Wiggins.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

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