CHARLOTTE -- Chris Harris was exactly where he wanted to be, and exactly where the Panthers needed him Friday: on the practice field.
Harris returned to full work after sitting out Thursday and being limited Wednesday, when he banged his knee in practice. He remains listed as questionable for Sunday, but his return Friday offers hope that Carolina's defense can open Week 1 intact.
HOME SWEET HOME: The regular-season opener holds priceless meaning to the rookies who play in it, no matter where it takes place. But when you grew up in North Carolina and get a chance to represent the home-state team, it takes on additional weight, since the occasion becomes something of a family reunion.
That's the case for
"Too many," Brown said, smiling. "I was just counting up my tickets and I had quite a few -- about 15 total. It's going to be pretty good. It's opening week, so a lot of family members want to come up."
They could see some big plays from Brown, whose three sacks in the preseason led the Panthers.
"It gives you confidence, and to play and be successful at this game, you have to have a great amount of confidence within yourself," Brown said. "The main thing the preseason did for me was to let me know I was taking a step forward every week and with every game. I just have to continue to do that, and I'll be all right."
BROWN HAS FOUND A HOME in the Panthers' locker room, in no small part due to linebacker Jon Beason.
"Since Day One, when I first arrived and he introduced himself to me, he's been a lot of help to me as a resource for me. It seems like he has the contact -- or can find the contact -- for anything I need," Brown said.
Monday night, that meant finding a spot to watch the Miami-Florida State game together -- at one of former Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan's restaurants. FSU had the home-field advantage in Tallahassee, but Beason and Morgan claimed it in Charlotte.
"We ganged up on him ... I had to call Dan for backup. We both had on our Miami shirts, so it was fun."
Brown was outnumbered, and his team was eventually outscored -- but he was not outhollered.
"I was talking a lot of junk, which is a little out of character off the field," Brown said. "But it was good."
And it's all harmless between a mentor and a protege, two men from rival schools who've found plenty of common ground, a fast friendship and a mutual respect.
"(Brown) is an all-right dude," said Beason.
SLIMMER SOONER: At times this summer, rookie
Lately, though, Robinson has proven up to the arduous physical tasks asked of him. Part of that is the natural adaptation to his new surroundings, but an equal component is his recent weight loss, from 345 pounds down to 332.
"I knew I was going to get it down, but I just feel great," he said. "I can move better. I'm better aware. I have a better mindset."
Shedding a baker's dozen of pounds wasn't something he was cajoled by others to do, Robinson said. The motivation came from within -- specifically, his desire to keep and eventually excel at his dream job.
"Sometimes I still wake up and can't believe that this is my everyday job, because this is what I love to do," he said.
"(The weight loss) was more on me. This is my job; this is what I chose for my profession. Nothing is promised to me, so I've got to do everything I need to do to get the job done, and getting my weight down was one of the things I needed to do to be the best that I could be."