Week 1: post game notes

A surprise inactive for the Panthers was wide receiver Rod Gardner, who watched as his streak of 64 consecutive starts came to an end. The Panthers kept only four active receivers -- Steve Smith, Keary Colbert, Ricky Proehl and Karl Hankton, the team's special teams captain. Gardner left the stadium before the media were allowed in the locker room to talk to players and was not available for comment.

Among the other inactives were wide receiver Drew Carter, running back Jamal Robertson, tackle Dave Kadella, center Geoff Hangartner, defensive end Jovan Haye. Quarterback Stefan LeFors was the emergency quarterback.

Asked his thoughts on Gardner being inactive, fellow receiver Steve Smith said, "I can't play coach. All I know is the guys that are out here need to make plays."

-- After first-round draft pick Thomas Davis took a shot to his knee in the second half, the Panthers went with Marlon McCree at strong safety.

Davis said he believes the move was partly because of his injury and partly because he struggled defending tight end Ernie Conwell in pass coverage.

"It probably had a little bit to do with both," Davis said. "Early on, I was out of position."

Davis said it wasn't frustrating, but said, "You want to do what is right for the team."

Conwell had six catches for 71 yards on Sunday, including three receptions for third-down conversions. But when McCree entered the game, he delivered a crushing blow to Conwell, dislocating the tight end's jaw and putting him out of the game for good.

McCree was flagged on the play and will likely be fined by the league this week for leading with his helmet.

-- The Panthers were flagged for 11 penalties for 84 yards, two of those coming against cornerback Chris Gamble for illegal contact. Overall, however, Carolina's starting tandem of Gamble and Ken Lucas did a good job on the Saints' receivers. It was nickel back Ricky Manning who was beaten for the 25-yard reception by Joe Horn on the game's final drive.

-- Julius Peppers, touted as an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate in the preseason, had six tackles, one deflected pass and might have contributed to two false start penalties on Saints rookie offensive tackle Jammal Brown. But Peppers was shutout in the sack department as the Saints went with a lot of three-step drops by Aaron Brooks.

--Travelle Wharton made his first NFL start at left tackle on Sunday and didn't play poorly. However, Wharton was flagged for one costly holding penalty early on that nullified a 39-yard gain on a pretty pitch and catch from Jake Delhomme to Ricky Proehl.

Panther Insider Top Stories