Panthers Mid-Week Wrap

Practice notes and team news heading into week three of the 2003 NFL season.

--Punter Todd Sauerbrun took great pleasure in Martin Gramatica's forgettable performance on Sunday in which the Bucs former Pro Bowl kicker had two field goals and an extra point blocked.
   "He kicked like garbage today," Sauerbrun said after the game.
   Sauerbrun and Gramatica have been engaged in an ongoing war of words ever since Sauerbrun criticized Gramatica for his energetic celebrations after successful field goals last season.
   "How many kicks did we block? Three? I mean that was the most ridiculous effort on any special teams side of the ball that I've witnessed in my lifetime," Sauerbrun said.
   --Defensive end Julius Peppers, however, was a little more upset with the Bucs. In particular, the blamed offensive tackle Kenyetta Walker for illegally delivering a number of blows to his face.
   "It was getting dirty out there," Peppers said. "I got a busted eye cut up and you don't get that with a helmet on. There was a lot extra stuff going on out there."
   At one point Peppers lost his cool and had to be restrained by teammates as he attempted to go after Walker.
   "He was shooting his hands to my face on every play and I'm telling the ref after every play, but somehow (the referee) doesn't see it," Peppers said. "And it's happening every play. That is why I'm so heated. I'm battling that, too. I'm battling the refs and the opponents."
   --Head coach John Fox sent at least three plays into the league office for review, including a chop block that has put backup defensive end Kavika Pittman out for the season. Pittman tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee and will be placed on injured reserve, Fox said Monday.
   Bucs offensive tackle Kenyetta Walker was blocking Pittman in overtime when wide receiver Keenan McCardell came in and hit Pittman's knees. Pittman immediately crumbled to the ground and eventually hobbled off the field.
   Ironically, that was one of the few plays in which a penalty flag wasn't thrown, which upset Fox even more.
   On Monday, McCardell admitted that he chop-blocked Pittman, but said that it wasn't an illegal play because he didn't think Walker was engaged with Pittman at the time.
   "It was a cutoff block and seriously it wasn't meant to be that way," McCardell told the Associated Press. "It happened. It's my job to cut him and I did. It's not illegal. It wasn't a flag and even when they look at it, it's not illegal. It's a cutoff block."
   Brentson Buckner was not happy with the play.
   "You just don't do that to a man's career," Buckner said.
   Fox will also be sending the league tapes of Walker delivering three jabs to the face of Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, a play that replayed on the stadium scoreboard for the home crowd to see.
   After getting fed up with Walker's antics, Peppers had to be restrained from going after him by teammates.
   After the game, Peppers was still livid.
   "He took some shots at me," Peppers said of Walker, whom he simply referred to as No. 67. "Little stuff like that I'll sometimes overlook. But at some point, when it keeps happening, it gets to you. We have a little bit of pride over here in this locker room and we aren't going to back down to anyone."
   Peppers had a number of scrapes, cuts and bruises on his face after the game.
   "You don't get these with a football helmet on," said Peppers, who said he was hit under the facemask on a number of different plays.
   Fox will also send in a play from earlier in the game that involved another chop block, but was overturned when officials picked up the flag and waived off the penalty.
   Fox is hoping the league hands down some punishment to the Buccaneers players involving what he deemed illegal and unnecessary hits.

   "That's all you can promise your team as coaches, that we'll do everything in our power to make sure your opponents are dealt with," Fox said. "And the only thing you can do at this point is turn it into the league and the officiating crew."
   --The Panthers were riding high after two wins before news that free safety Jarrod Cooper was arrested for the second time in three years with the Panthers for DUI. Cooper apologized for his actions after practice Wednesday, but took no questions.
   It's possible the NFL may suspend Cooper at some point.
   "It's beyond embarrassing. This is the second time it's happened in a year and half," Cooper said. "We're coming of a big win. I'm putting a damper on things and I'm embarrassing my teammates, my coaches and Mr. Richardson and myself. And maybe there's a problem. We're trying to address some things off the field and in my personal life and trying to get some things done."


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