Comments from Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox after the team reported to training camp.
On if there were any problems with players passing physicals: Everybody passed; everybody is a full go unless somebody gets sick tonight. But today everybody was great.
On if he has ever had a training camp where starting positions seem to be set like they are this year with 21 of 22 starters returning from the 2008 team: Every year it is a new experience, but that was our goal this offseason. We didn't have an extreme amount of cap room, so we weren't real active in free agency. But we did everything possible to keep the guys that we have that are our kind of guys, guys that we feel like perform at a high level. That's where the bulk of our cap room went - to keep our own. We relied on the draft, and that's what we're here for.
On if he is worried about the youth and lack of depth behind the starters: When you start getting your organization to a point where you've got good frontline players, that's kind of what happens. Those guys that have proven themselves, been to Pro Bowls and those types of things, cost you a little more to keep, and you're not going to have a high-dollar veteran back-up. So we've got some youth there. There is no question that one of the secrets to success in this league is developing young players, and we'll definitely have that work cut out for us. I think we've got good, young guys that aren't afraid to work, and we'll see how that progress goes.
On getting defensive end Julius Peppers caught up after missing mini-camp and summer school: Julius, first of all, is a very talented guy, so ability-wise he's worked very hard this offseason. That was evident with how he looked like today. Just getting re-acclimated, this is going to be the first time in pads for everybody. I don't think he's much behind there, so I don't see that being any problem. He's an extremely smart player that I'm sure is going to take off nicely.
On if he would have preferred that Peppers have met with defensive coordinator Ron Meeks before now: No, I don't think so. Everybody in that locker room is close. The word is out, and I think everybody understands the personalities of both guys, our defensive line coach Brian Baker and Ron Meeks, our coordinator. These guys do their homework, and I think everything will be just fine.
On wide receiver Steve Smith wanting to be more of a leader: I think he'll do excellent. He's obviously proven himself on the field. He's an outstanding player, and that's one of the best ways to lead - by example. He's matured a lot through his career and he understands how to be successful. Getting that message across to young players is critical. You want your players to be leaders and your leaders to be players, and I think he's ready for that step.
On if it is important for Smith to be more a leader because of what happened last training camp: I tend not to look back too much and I've seen a lot of growth moving forward. I think that's something he probably feels more comfortable with. It's a maturation process, and I think he's made great strides.
On reporting to training camp later than normal: Those are the rules. We get 15 days before our first preseason game, and that rule is in place throughout the league. We'll adjust. The only goofy thing is with Fan Fest being on Saturday we are a little bit behind. But we get to make up for it on the other end, so the number of days tends to be the same. I tend to forget what day it is down here anyways. I haven't dwelled on that too much.
On if the Panthers will still have a live scrimmage at Fan Fest despite having two fewer days of practice: More than likely. I like to take it one day at a time, see the condition of the team, how we get through tomorrow. That will affect what we do the next day. I don't really know the answer to that yet, but right now we have a schedule and that's what we're on right now.
On if anybody will be limited in practice on Monday: We haven't met on that yet. Everybody is fine health right now. We'll have some veteran guys that we might see how it goes in that a.m. practice and adjust from there, but everybody is healthy and ready to go full speed.
On if the Panthers have an interest in free agent quarterback Michael Vick: We always have an interest in anybody that makes us better. Right now, we are pretty set at quarterback. We like the guys that we have. I wouldn't want to rule in or rule out anything. I tell you guys that all the time. We are always looking to upgrade, and at this point we feel comfortable where we are.