Gardner: "This week, hopefully I'll be out there."

Don't be surprised if the Panthers activate wide receiver Rod Gardner this week against the New England Patriots. Gardner was not among Carolina's 46 active players last week. "This week, hopefully I'll be out there," Gardner said. "Coach (John Fox) gave me a package and I'm working more with the (starters) and rotating a lot, so hopefully he'll give me a chance to compete and help our team do as best as we can."

The Panthers kept only four receivers active last week against the New Orleans Saints, one them of being special teams ace Karl Hankton.

But the Patriots present additional challenges this week because of their complex defensive scheme, and the Panthers may need as many offensive weapons at their disposal as possible in case this game gets into a shootout similar to Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Gardner said he had an idea on Saturday that he might not be one of the team's 47 players to get a jersey, but said it didn't make it any easier when Fox informed him of the news Sunday morning.

In fact, he said he was filled with "disbelief" when he heard the news.

"Most teams I've been on dress five receivers, six receivers," Gardner said. "When they only dressed four, and Hankton is mostly special teams, it was difficult and I didn't expect it. When coach told me how he felt about it I just had to take it. I understood where he was coming from. He just felt more comfortable with the other guys at that point. Hopefully, this week it will be different."

When asked what explanation Fox gave him for being deactivated, Gardner replied, "He said once you learn more detail and learn most of the positions you can get out there play and learn the offense."

Gardner played in all 64 games with Washington Redskins (starting 61) prior to being traded to Carolina one day before the start of training camp.

Earlier this week, Fox said he'll probably will stick with normal plan of activating four receivers on game day, meaning Gardner would be the odd man most weeks unless he's able to move ahead of Ricky Proehl on the depth chart or if there's an injury to Proehl or one of the starters.

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