Panthers optimistic about 2008 season

Like most teams this time of the year, the Panthers are very optimistic about their chances this season. "I anticipate we're going to do some good things this year," said quarterback Jake Delhomme on Thursday as the Panthers wrapped up three weeks of OTAs in Charlotte.

Delhomme spoke with a quiet, reserved confidence, looking a lot like a guy who knows his team is better this year but one reluctant to put any added pressure on the rest of his team.

"I really like what I've seen," Delhomme said. "We've got some guys that want to work. I think we've filled a big leadership void on this team this off-season. It's real good. So we'll see what happens."

Ironically, one year after the team lost four of its leaders -- safety Mike Minter, defensive end Mike Rucker, linebacker Dan Morgan and guard Mike Wahle -- coach John Fox talked about his team having leadership.

"I think we've got good guys -- guys like Moose (Muhsin Muhammad) -- that are excellent locker room guys who are pros and know how to act," Fox said. "And the young guys have a role model. I think we have more of those kinds of guys. And having Jake back, not just because he's our quarterback, but because he's kind of our spark on that side of the ball, hopefully we are improved this year."

The Panthers will rely heavily this season on Delhomme's right elbow holding up. So far, so good.

Delhomme looked great in OTAs, making all the needed throws while showing surprisingly good arm strength and accuracy.

"His arm is strong as ever and he's rehabbing well and I think he will be good as new when we start camp," Fox said.

Still, the Panthers are likely to put Delhomme on a pitch count when the team opens two-a-day practices at camp.

"We don't want to go through what we did last season, so we will be cautious," Fox said. "It's in the medical people's hands. We will do what we feel like he's capable of."

Added Delhomme: "In training camp there will be soreness. I'm sure there will. If there isn't soreness then I'm probably not putting in enough effort. If it's just normal soreness and nothing pain-wise, then everything is on track. And I feel like everything is on track right now."

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