Originally created 08/04/98

Carolina begins installing regular-season game plans



SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Carolina Panthers shifted their focus Monday as the second full week of training camp began, adding a series of plays designed to be used in the early part of the regular season.

After spending the first week of camp concentrating mainly on fundamentals and basic plays, the Panthers used Monday to begin installing specific parts of the game plan for their Sept. 6 opener against Atlanta. Also going in were plays that Carolina plans to use in its second game against New Orleans and its third against Green Bay.

Coach Dom Capers said the Panthers will spend the rest of this week concentrating mainly on their exhibition opener Saturday night at home against Jacksonville.

But he said that between now and the end of training camp later this month, Carolina will spend more and more time focusing on the regular season.

Part of that preparation involves performing better in the exhibition season. The Panthers' 7-9 record last year and failure to make the playoffs came after an exhibition season in which they went 0-4.

"Obviously, that's not the way you want to start off the season," quarterback Kerry Collins said. "I think we're working hard. I think we're a lot better team than we were last year. I'd be very surprised if we went through the preseason without a win."

The Panthers' 1997 woes began in their exhibition opener, when Jacksonville sacked Carolina quarterbacks seven times and rolled to a 23-9 victory that was more lopsided than the score indicates.

"We didn't expect it," Collins said. "I've never been in a preseason game where I saw that much blitzing."

The Panthers say they'll be prepared if it happens again this time, but to do that, they'll need a better performance from their offensive line, especially close to the goal line.

Carolina held its first live goal-line scrimmage of training camp during Saturday's practice, running 12 plays. The defense held on 11.

Capers said much of the reason for the apparent mismatch was that the goal-line offense had been installed just one day before the scrimmage.

"We just weren't quite ready," Capers said. "I think we learned a lot from it. The defense played with a little bit better tempo down there than what the offense did. The offense had done some very good things up until that time. It just kind of ended on a downer for them, which I'm not sure is all that bad, because it kind of gets our attention in terms of what we need to do."

Notes: Monday marked the 11th day of the holdout by first-round draft pick Jason Peter, and once again, there was no substantial progress to report in the talks to get the No. 14 overall selection into camp. ... The Panthers held two practices Monday, working without pads during the morning but full pads at night. ... Capers said Blake Brockermeyer, a likely starter at offensive tackle who has been held out of most drills since the start of camp while he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, would not play against Jacksonville. ... Halfback Tshimanga Biakabutuka, bothered by a hip flexor injury, and defensive back Derwin Gray, sidelined by a calf stain on the opening day of camp, both returned to practice Monday on a limited basis.