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Foxhole: First practice


Comments from Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox following the team's morning training camp practice.*

On the first practice: Excellent. I thought it was very good. We had a great offseason. Our guys are in great shape. It always looks a little sluggish that first day in pads. They haven't carried them all year, but you can tell they've worked. I thought it was very good for a first day.

On having continuity from last year's team: We've got 21 of 22 starters back. That was kind of our goal in the offseason - to re-sign our own, and we did that as much as the salary cap would let us. It makes that easier as far as knowing your personnel and knowing what guys expect.

On defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu, who was injured during practice: He did something to his ankle. He hasn't met with our doctors yet. They'll be down later today. Jon Beason tweaked his hamstring.

On how Kemoeatu was hurt: It was running.

On having an injury in the first practice, especially at a position where depth is thin: Injuries are a part of this game. In camp we get guys that things happen to. As a coach, it's a fine line. It's one of the hard things about camp. You've got to get ready to play football and yet you want to make sure you've got some guys to play football with. Those things happen and they'll happen all through camp, just, hopefully, nothing too serious.

On rookie defensive tackle Marlon Favorite, who replaced Kemoeatu in practice: He's a neat, young man. He gives you everything he's got. We saw that out of college, and I haven't seen anything different than that, which is a good thing.

On how much this camp is dedicated to building depth: It's a challenge every year. You are trying to develop your team, not just your depth but your front-line guys to get better. There are areas you're trying to improve on from the year before. That's no different this year. This year we lost some veteran depth on the offensive line, and that's an area where we've got some young guys to develop.

On having defensive end Julius Peppers back at practice: It's good to have him back, and I kind of expected it to go like this pretty much the whole time. It was good to see his smiling face.

On how Peppers looked: I would say it's fair to say that Pep has always been in pretty good shape. He is kind of a good athlete, so he looked the same to me. I don't think what he missed was earth shattering. Of course, we all would have loved to have had him, but he's come in very, very well conditioned, and I kind of expected that.

On defensive coordinator Ron Meeks' vocal coaching style: I think Ron Meeks has proven himself in this league as a defensive coordinator. Everybody has got their own style. Everybody has got a different personality, whether you are a head coach, an owner, general manager, assistant coach, coordinator. The key is being you. Most of us aren't smart enough to be anybody else. That's just their style, and I think it's proven to work.

On wide receiver Ryne Robinson, who did not play last season because of a knee injury: Very good. I thought he's had a good offseason. Getting back used to playing football, coming off an injury is always tough for any athlete. Ryne attacked that in the offseason, and the first day in pads I thought he looked very good.

On how much of returning from an injury is psychological: This game is a tough game (physically) and mentally as well. That's tough for any athlete to come off an injury. Some of it is mental and a lot of it is physical, so it's just part of the game.

On the fan support at practice: We've got great fan support, whether it's down here or in Charlotte. I think Carolina Panthers fans are outstanding and always have been, at least in my tenure. It helps when you win, I know that. The expectation level now is to be in the Super Bowl, and that's our expectation every year. In the National Football League, there is only one happy camper, and that's the Super Bowl champ. The difference is there are 31 other guys that have the same goal, so it's very competitive. I think our fans enjoy that, and we're happy they do.

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