Bridges: I'm willing to work my way back

The Carolina Panthers will get starting offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges back this week. "I don't see a reason why I shouldn't be (starting)," Bridges said. "But if not, I'm going to work my way back. I'm not going to sit back and just sulk. If they choose to play Ryan one more week or make me try to earn my position back, I'm all for that."

"I put myself in this situation, so I'm willing to work my way back."

Given that rookie Ryan Kalil gave up two sacks in Sunday's 34-21 loss to the Houston Texans, that's entirely possible.

Coach John Fox wouldn't say if Bridges would start against Atlanta.

Bridges offered his apologies Monday for his arrest on the eve of training camp that led to a two-game suspension.

"I want to apologize first and foremost to Charlotte and the Richardson organization, my teammates and fans," Bridges said in his first interview since his arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly pointing a gun at a woman outside of a South Charlotte strip club.

"It's unfortunate and please believe it, it's been real rough for me," he said. "I feel like I put the coaching staff and my teammates in a bad situation by me not being there."

The Panthers have a roster exemption for Bridges until 4 p.m. Wednesday, at which point they will need to cut a player to make room for him.

Although Bridges is expected to plead not guilty at his Oct. 2 court date, he said the team-imposed two-game suspension was warranted.

"Yeah, you can't have off-field incidents without there being a suspension, especially in this day in age in the NFL with everybody doing the wrong thing," Bridges said. "Not everybody, but with a select few doing the wrong things. I don't want to be put in that category because I'm not one of those guys. Those are repeat offenders and what they're doing, that's not me. My situation happened. But for me, that's over."

Bridges started 14 games for the Panthers at right tackle last season and was rewarded with a three-year contract extension.

"I'm not going to look at it as a setback. I missed two games. We've got 14 more, plus the playoffs," Bridges said. "I still plan on playing well. It hasn't really put a damper on what I do at all. I still have my mind up to come in and prove to them they did make a good decision in paying me to play here for the next three years.

"I have goals that I set for myself and I'm not going to let that situation put a damper on what I've set for myself. I'm going to come out, play well and hopefully play better than I did last year."

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