Gross not comfortable with weight gain

The call for more beef on the offensive line came down earlier this off-season. In an attempt to become the power-running team owner Jerry Richardson envisions, the Panthers brought in a number of larger offensive linemen via free agency and the NFL draft and asked those returning from last season to start packing on bulk.

"That was one of our goals this offseason to get bigger and more physical," coach John Fox said. "And I think right now (without pads), we look like that. On the scales and in the weight room we are bigger and stronger. But until we get into pads, and put an opponent across from us and see how we do, it's a little bit early. I'm looking forward to camp and the preseason contests."

The Panthers added three enormous guards in free agency -- Keydrick Vincent (6-foot-5, 325 pounds), Toniu Fonoti (6-4, 340) and Milford Brown (6-5, 330) - and drafted tackles Jeff Otah (6-6, 340) and Geoff Schwartz (6-6, 331). Returning guard Travelle Wharton added 10 pounds to get to 320 and backup Geoff Hangartner packed on 19 to reach that same weight.

But at least one offensive lineman isn't adhering to the company line.

Starting left tackle Jordan Gross, the team's franchise player, said he has no plans to put on any additional weight.

Gross, who is 6-4 and 300 pounds, said he's comfortable with his playing weight and doesn't see how adding pounds will benefit him or the team. So, when it was suggested by offensive line coach Dave Magazu that he pack on a few pounds this past offseason, Gross politely declined.

It's not that Gross is being a rebel or isn't being a team player; it's just he feels he knows his body better than anyone and believes adding weight would be a mistake.

"I haven't changed in about nine years and I don't think it's really time to do that," Gross said. "(Magazu) has talked to me about it, but I don't think it's going to happen. I don't think that gaining 10 pounds is going to change my game tremendously, so I will stay with what I'm comfortable at."

Gross, who is making the move from right to left tackle, believes he still needs quickness to handle the NFL's speed rushers.

"I don't think 10 pounds is going to make me any stronger and it might just slow me down a little bit, so I don't want to sacrifice any of that speed," said Gross, whose contract expires after the season.

Wharton, however, has tried to pack on a few while moving inside from left tackle to left guard.

"We've been beefing up and we're feeling the effects of it right now," joked Wharton, referring to the 95-degree heat at practice.

Wharton said 320 is a good weight for him.

"As long as I'm able to move and endurance-wise still be in there, that's fine," Wharton said.

Added Gross: "It's definitely more of a power unit."

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