Delhomme: "It feels great"

Jake Delhomme seems to be recovering just fine in his comeback from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. Delhomme threw for three straight days at minicamp this past weekend, looking strong while throwing mostly passes of distances not exceeding 20 yards. Delhomme did throw some 30- and 40-yard passes on the final day of minicamp.

Delhomme worked only in individual drills at last Friday's minicamp, but could return to team work when the Panthers reconvene for OTAs in June.

"He's looked very, very good," coach John Fox said. "His arm looks stronger than it has ever looked."

Delhomme said he was "extremely pleased" with how things went over the weekend.

"Things are going well," he said. "We're on a good program right now and things are on the right course."

Delhomme looks and sounds like he's almost fully recovered.

"It feels great," said Delhomme, who missed 13 games last season. "The rehab has gone great. We have been cautious and haven't had any setbacks. I was very satisfied."

Regardless of whether or not he participates in OTAs, Delhomme is expected to be full strength by training camp and he's anxious to begin working with his new weapons.

The Panthers drafted running back Jonathan Stewart from Oregon and tackle Jeff Otah from Pitt in the first round and added tight end Gary Barnidge in the fifth. They also signed free agent receiver D.J. Hackett.

But the move that has Delhomme most excited is the return of Muhsin Muhammad, who opened minicamp running with the first team. The Panthers cut Muhammad after the 2004 season in a salary-cap move and Muhammad signed with the Chicago Bears.

"The day we got Moose back that was huge," Delhomme said. "And not for what he did in the past, but for what he brings -- the way he works, the way he blocks and these young guys can learn from that. When you have two guys that work the way him and Steve (Smith) work, it can only help. He brings a presence. Linebackers are going to know. No. 87 is back. He'll block you."

Of course, Delhomme knows the Panthers' offense will be predicated on running the football. And he's excited about Stewart serving as a complement to DeAngelo Williams in the backfield.

"That is how you win in this league," Delhomme said. "It does so much offensively, but also it helps the defense. Ask anyone of those guys, if we can run the ball effectively and get eight to 10-play drives and put points on the board they can get a breather and go out there fresh. That's huge. If we can establish a run game and run the ball effectively then Steve will have chances and Moose will have chances one-on-one and we all know what they can do when."

Delhomme threw eight touchdown passes and only one interception in about two-and-a-half games last year, but the Panthers offense quickly fell apart when he went down.

Carolina finished 29th in the league in passing and overall offense.

"I think we can do some good things this year," Delhomme said. "For me to say we're going to be a top-five or top-10 offense, honestly I could care less as long as we are a top-five or top-10 team.

"As long as we win the division and just get your foot in the door of the playoffs. I know we got bigger up front and we did draft a running back and he'll be a great complement to DeAngelo. And we got Moose back and I think saw today he hasn't lost much. That has been evident. Hackett will help and Dwayne Jarrett has a chance. We have some speed out here, so we'll see."

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