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Festival of defense


CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers concluded their intra-squad scrimmage Saturday during Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium with veteran kicker John Kasay booting a 39-yard field goal.

Otherwise, the defense had a leg up.

"I usually anticipate it going that way. At least in my tenure here and even other places, the defense typically is a little further ahead this time of the year," head coach John Fox said. "I'm pleased with the effort and I'm pleased we got through healthy.

"That's the most important thing."

A crowd of 15,171 turned out to watch the Panthers return to Charlotte from training camp in Spartanburg, S.C., for their first scrimmage of any significance since training camp began on July 29. They'll be back on the practice fields at Wofford College on Monday and will be in Baltimore on Thursday for their preseason opener against the Ravens.

The offense intends to be better by then.

"You're never going to come out your first scrimmage and play perfect," said tight end Dante Rosario, who paced the receivers with two catches for 17 yards. "Offensively, we obviously have some things to clean up, but that's expected. It's still early in camp, and we still have a lot of work to do.

"But with the type of team we have, and the players and character that we have, I have no doubt that we'll get those things cleaned up. That's what preseason is for."

The defense looked like it was in midseason form at times. Defensive linemen Tyler Brayton, Greg Hardy and Everette Brown and linebacker James Anderson were credited with sacks – though they weren't allowed to actually tackle the red-clad quarterbacks – and cornerback C.J. Wilson nearly came up with a couple of interceptions but couldn't quite hang on.

"Overall, we were able to come out and show off all the hard work we've been putting in all of training camp," safety Sherrod Martin said. "Being able to have a live scrimmage, that's something we can build off of, but we've got a long way to go.

"We're going to continue to get better every day."

The best chances for the offense slipped through their hands. Wide receiver Kenny Moore broke open and had a chance to catch a 45-yarder from Matt Moore, but he couldn't quite haul it in. Later, running back Josh Vaughan turned a scramble and screen pass from Jimmy Clausen into a 36-yard gain – only to have it nullified by a holding penalty.

"I actually got my hands on it. If my hands touch it, it's a catchable ball," Kenny Moore said of his near-reception. "It was our first scrimmage, and I think we had a few jitters. But I think overall it's something we can build off of and learn from."

The scrimmage was the showcase event of the day but not the only part of it. Activities began bright and early at 7:30 a.m., and the Panthers took to the field at 11 and went through nearly a one-hour practice prior to their 36-play scrimmage.

Following the scrimmage, players signed autographs for fans in the stands.

"It's definitely exciting to be back in Charlotte from Spartanburg and play in front of the home fans and in my hometown," Kenny Moore said. "It's pretty cool to get this opportunity."


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