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Carolina Panthers

Foxhole: Francisco returns


Comments from Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox following the team's practice.

On injuries: Did not practice - Tyler Brayton (ankle), Thomas Davis (PUP - knee), Jeff Otah (PUP - knee), Hilee Taylor (knee), and C.J. Wilson (head).

On getting safety Aaron Francisco back: He hasn't had a lot of time in this camp. We got a pretty good look at him in the OTAs and minicamp, but he's got some catching up to do and, hopefully, he can do it in the next two weeks.

On cornerback Brian Witherspoon: He's a guy who obviously runs fast and has got some return ability. With some of the injuries we've had at corner this week in practice, he's actually made a pretty good showing for himself. He's a guy that's new to us, and we're finding out about him as we go. This week he's got a lot more opportunities, and we'll see how he does this Saturday night.

On using Witherspoon as a punt returner: He actually returned some last week. He was the fourth guy we had out there. Again, it's getting looks at those guys. That's what the preseason is for. He'll get some opportunities without saying too much in the return game.

On how going to an 18-game schedule would change preseason preparation and getting ready for the regular season: I'm trying to figure out how to handle this 16-game schedule this year. Whatever they decide. An old guy told me once, "Stay in your lane." I'll deal with that at another time.

On Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson: He's a great player. We looked at him pretty in-depth when he was at East Carolina. He's had a great, young career so far. He's an outstanding back. He's got good pad level when he runs and he's got extremely good speed. They've got a salty offensive line. You don't get there just on the back's ability, albeit he's got those abilities. They know how to run the ball, and (head coach) Jeff (Fisher) has that type of philosophy with the Titans.

On how much the starters will play in the third preseason game against Tennessee: They'll definitely go into the third quarter, and from there we'll see how it's going. But this will be the most extended play they'll have in the preseason as usual. How deep into the third quarter, we'll have to wait and see.

On if wide receiver Steve Smith and running back Jonathan Stewart could possibly play against the Titans: They are all possibilities.

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