CHARLOTTE – The Panthers hope to turn over a new leaf when they return to action following their bye week.
The Panthers' newest player is hoping for much the same.
"It's a fresh opportunity to jumpstart my career and help this team out, to do my part to get some wins," recently acquired wide receiver Devin Thomas said Wednesday. "It's a change of scenery for me, and it's a good look. I'm real excited."
The Panthers claimed Thomas, a second-round draft pick in 2008, off waivers from the Washington Redskins on Monday.
Thomas had his share of highs and lows in Washington. He caught 40 passes for 446 yards, highlighted by a two-touchdown game late last season against New Orleans. But he had played on just one offensive possession this season for new head coach Mike Shanahan.
Following Washington's victory over Green Bay on Sunday, Shanahan said Thomas is "going to have to commit to being a pro."
According to Thomas, Shanahan felt that Thomas' offseason activities – magazine modeling and an appearance in a music video among them – were an indication that he wasn't working hard enough on football.
"I'll take that to heart, and now that I have a second chance, I'll make sure I do everything professionally," Thomas said, adding that he's discussed his off-the-field endeavors with Panthers general manager Marty Hurney. "I talked to the GM, and I told him that he has nothing to worry about. I'm focusing on football.
"All that stuff can come later in life. I'm looking to just become a great receiver."
At 6-2, 218 pounds, Thomas certainly seems to have the tools. In his final season at Michigan State in 2007, Thomas set a school record with 79 receptions and led the Big Ten conference with 1,260 receiving yards.
That same year, when Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen was a freshman at Notre Dame, Thomas and the Spartans went to South Bend and scored a 31-14 victory, with Thomas scoring Michigan State's first touchdown.
"The first time I talked to him, I told him to not hold a grudge against me because I went to Notre Dame," Clausen said. "He's a good receiver. He definitely has good hands.
"He seems like a real good guy and a real good player to help this organization."
Clausen and Thomas stayed after practice Wednesday and got in some extra work with each other.
"I was just trying to get in rhythm with how he throws it," Thomas said. "That's really the main thing, because every quarterback has a different way that they throw the ball."
Thomas hopes he can help a passing offense that ranks 31st in the league.
"They told me I could come in here and make a difference, and that's my mentality," Thomas said. "I'm coming in here doing the best I can to learn the offense and help out as much as possible.
"Everyone still has a positive attitude around here. All it takes is a couple of big plays, and then all it takes is a win. Then once the wins start coming, everybody will be happy."