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Mason's Minutes: Inspiring words

Posted Aug 10, 2009

Richardson
With Julius Peppers standing alongside him, owner/founder Jerry Richardson addresses his Panthers at the start of Monday's practice. (PHOTO: ANDREW MASON / PANTHERS.COM)


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SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Monday morning, head coach John Fox barked, "Bring 'em up!" Hardly an unusual occurrence, since this is how he always calls together his team -- except for this being the beginning, not the end, of practice.

But Fox didn't need to yell to bring his team to attention. The presence of Jerry Richardson did that on its own. The Panthers' owner and founder dropped in on training camp for the first time this year, and addressed the team for the first time since undergoing a heart transplant on Super Bowl Sunday six months ago.

Richardson spoke to the team and then watched the entire practice, riding around on his golf cart with former Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker.

"He was his usual funny self," linebacker Jon Beason said. "He's definitely the face of the organization, and to see him out there supporting us, he's truly the example of a great leader."

Added fullback Brad Hoover: "I think he just wanted to come in, talk to us and inspire us a little bit."

In previous years, that inspiration has come from his commanding presence and his background as the only former player currently in the NFL's ownership ranks.

"When an owner walks through the locker room at any other place, guys turn the other way or try to hide. Guys flock to him and go to him. That's the honest-to-goodness truth," quarterback Jake Delhomme said. "There's a certain respect players have for guys who played the game, and we have the only owner who ever played the game. That's very big."

As deep as that respect is from the players, it's doubled by Richardson's battle to recover from the heart problems that necessitated the transplant.

"Just to see him out recovering the way he is and fighting, that's just the type of person he is," Hoover said.

"Basically he was saying that he feels good, that he's happy just to be back and able to come down here, and watch practice and going forward he wishes us all the best," Beason added.

And the players in turn want to deliver him the best -- a world championship. Richardson's presence provides them extra motivation in that quest.

"Absolutely. It's always been his dream," Beason said. "He's done everything he can from his end to assure that happens. Now we've just got to take the torch and run with it."

IMMEDIATELY AFTER RICHARDSON addressed the team, Beason adjourned to the edge of the practice fields with strength and conditioning coach Jerry Simmons for a workout that has become his routine the past week as he recovers from a strained hamstring that he aggravated on the first play of training camp's first team period.

Beason believes his return is imminent, saying that he will "try to go" during the evening session Monday night. In the meantime, he continues to chafe with frustration over his predicament.

"Definitely. I feel like everybody's in better shape than me, and I don't like that," he said.

SPLIT SECONDS:

... Joining Beason with Simmons on Monday morning were fellow linebacker Thomas Davis (knee), safety Nate Salley (knee) and running back DeAngelo Williams (toe). Offensive lineman C.J. Davis also did not practice, but he did not take part in the on-field conditioning session ...

... Dan Connor and Landon Johnson continued to work in place of Beason and Thomas Davis, respectively. Jonathan Stewart received first-team work during the early periods of practice in place of Williams, but was held out of the full-speed, game-condition goal-line period, leaving that work to Mike Goodson ...

... Goodson was also up first on kickoff returns, which took up two periods of work Monday morning. He was followed by wide receiver Kenneth Moore and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. Last week and at Fan Fest, the kickoff returns belonged to Goodson and wide receivers Larry Beavers and Ryne Robinson ...

... The Panthers got into goal-line work for the first time at training camp, and Goodson was not only the first running back up, but the star of the period.

The fourth-round pick scored on each of his first two carries in goal-line work, breaking tackles each time. The first run was probably the more dramatic of the two, as he burst through the middle of Carolina's defense, dragging Dan Connor and bouncing off Chris Harris for the touchdown.

Connor has missile lock on Goodson ...
Goodson
Then, as Connor grabs Goodson's right leg, Harris prepares for the slammer ...
Goodson

Goodson
... But Goodson spins away, sending Harris flying ...
Goodson
... all the while continuing to drag Connor ...
Goodson
... before the final lunge for paydirt ...
Goodson
... and as his elbow strikes the grass, the football is over the goal line.
Goodson

Goodson's speed has drawn raves the past week, but this play -- and another one shortly thereafter, where he broke through a Charles Godfrey tackle attempt for a touchdown -- offered a revealing glimpse at the rookie's power.

"I thought he did a good job this morning. He's very talented and he's getting a lot of reps with the ones -- which is a good thing," Delhomme said. "He's a guy that can really help us this year." ...

Moore
... Prior to the goal-line work, the Panthers had a red-zone period, a period highlighted by back-to-back touchdown passes from Matt Moore to Dwayne Jarrett and Dante Rosario. The pass to Jarrett came in spite of tough defense from safety Quinton Teal, who engulfed Jarrett but couldn't keep him from the reception.

ROARS (OR AS SOME INSIST, "TWEETS"):

9:19 A.M. EDT: Already a hot one at #Panthers camp; sweat soaking the temples and forehead ... this should be the warmest morning practice of camp to date. (Postscript: The temperature was 79 degrees at this point; it rose to 87 by the end of practice.)

9:23 A.M. EDT: Owner/founder Jerry Richardson is here, speaking to the entire team.

Richardson
9:27 A.M. EDT: Mike Rucker accompanying Jerry Richardson as they ride around the field.

10:17 A.M. EDT: Into 1 on 1s ... and the catch of the morning belongs to Larry Beavers ... over the shoulder down the left sideline.

10:27 A.M. EDT: A team period brings us to the water break ... Mike Goodson showed off some speed on some outside runs during that period.

10:50 A.M. EDT: To the first goal line team work of camp ... first play sees Mike Goodson w/ a tenacious, tkl-bursting run up the gut.

10:52 A.M. EDT: Julius Peppers blows up a goal line playfake ... he doesn't bite; would have been a sack under game conditions.

10:54 A.M. EDT: Nice play by Casper Brinkley, who overruns his blocker to drag down Jamall Lee.

For live updates from the practice field, follow our Twitter feed at twitter.com/cpanthers.

MORE SNAPSHOTS:

Goodson
Jason Carter leaps for a reception in one-on-one work.

Moore
Another big one-on-one play, as Kenneth Moore reaches out for a reception past Sherrod Martin.

Stewart
Stewart stiff-arms Landon Johnson.

Stewart
Munnerlyn wraps up wide receiver Steve Smith.

UP NEXT:

An evening practice Monday night at 6:30 p.m. EDT, followed by a single session Tuesday afternoon, at 3:10 p.m. EDT.