Panthers end Summer School on high note

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme was buzzing with excitement as the team wrapped up its three-week Organized Team Activities on June 14. "Look, you've probably heard this from a lot of people, but without a doubt this was by far the best summer camp we've ever had," Delhomme said.

"The energy, the enthusiasm and the things we're doing... and this isn't just me trying to give it some window dressing or whatnot. The players are saying it, the players are feeling it --- it's the best camp we've ever had."

Delhomme, entering his fifth season with the Panthers, said the addition of three new coaches (including offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson) and the implementation of a new offensive scheme had the players excited coming into camp. He also said an influx of new players has also helped add to the excitement.

But more than anything Delhomme believes the most energy is coming from the veteran players themselves.

"The energy level here is up and I think pride and ego have a lot to do with it," Delhomme said. "When you are a prideful person and you play the way we did last year you should be ashamed. If you have a big ego like everyone on this team does -- and rightfully so, you just have to harness it -- then your ego should be crushed. And I think everybody feels that same way."

The Panthers finished 8-8 last season after being picked by many to win the Super Bowl, but Delhomme said it felt more like 4-12.

"Go back and look at it and it should have been so much better than that," Delhomme said. "We left some games sitting on the table. A lot of us here had a lot to do with that, myself included. I'm looking forward to righting the ship this year."

This year, the Panthers aren't picked by many experts to make a deep run in the playoffs, which means they have a chance to fly under the radar as they did in 2003 when they went to the Super Bowl.

Added coach John Fox: "Everybody was disappointed about last season. Nobody was more disappointed than the coaches and the players. We came back this off-season with a vengeance. First the strength and conditioning program, then minicamp, and of course finishing up here with our (minicamp)."

Rookie to watch: Dwayne Jarrett -- The Panthers' second-round draft choice out of Southern Cal has a chance to step in and start right away opposite Steve Smith. He'll face competition from Drew Carter, but Jarrett has impressed coaches and made three impressive grabs during minicamp.

Sudden impact: Justin Hartwig -- Back from a groin injury, Hartwig is working with the first team at center and the team is hoping he can remain healthy this season after missing 15 games in 2006. He'll face stiff competition from second-round pick Ryan Kalil, a center out of Southern Cal.

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