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Strickly Panthers: Kalil's new deal


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Ryan Kalil couldn't be happy with the way the Panthers played in Friday's preseason loss at Miami, but he couldn't help but be happy about what happened before the game.

The Panthers announced that they had signed Kalil, their Pro Bowl center, to a five-year contract extension.

"Mr. (Jerry) Richardson talked to me about a year ago and told me that his plan was to keep his core guys once the dust settled," Kalil said. "I was really honored and humbled that I was considered to be one of those guys.

"I've said all along that I wanted to be here and stay here. I love this organization and all my teammates, and I'm excited about the direction we're going."

The move was the final one in a long line of re-signings over the last three weeks aimed at securing the Panthers' top talent for the long haul. In addition to reaching long-term deals with potential free agents Kalil, running back DeAngelo Williams, defensive end Charles Johnson and linebacker James Anderson, the Panthers also signed linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis to significant extensions.

"Jordan Gross had a really good quote when he said that what they've been doing the last couple of months has made the guys more proud of the logo on the side of their helmet than the name on the back of their jersey," Kalil said. "That's the truth. We're excited. We've got a lot of good talent. It's just a matter of getting it on the same page."

Kalil, in his fifth season out of Southern California, is the only offensive lineman in franchise history to appear in back-to-back Pro Bowls, accomplishing the feat each of the past two seasons. The Panthers had placed their franchise tag in February on Kalil, who otherwise would have been eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.

"It's great for him and his wife, and it's great for the organization," Gross said. "It's a good move not only because he's my friend but because I think he's one of the best centers in the league. He's young, and he's got a long future ahead of him.

"Today it's kind of overshadowed by a lackluster performance, but I do think we're building up towards having a really good team for a long time here. That's just another piece of the pie."


BACK IN THE FOLD: In his first game in nearly two years, linebacker Thomas Davis got right into the action, making a tackle on the Panthers' third play on defense.

As the plays piled up, however, Davis' initial excitement gave way to exhaustion.

"It felt great to be back out there, hitting somebody other than my teammates," Davis said. "What I learned tonight is that I really need to get in football shape. Running around out there, I really got tired.

"It's something I'll be harping on all week, just getting myself in game shape."

Davis finished with four tackles in his first game since suffering a serious knee injury on Nov. 8, 2009, at the New Orleans Saints. Davis then missed the entire 2010 season after he injured the same knee last June.

INJURY UPDATES: Tight end Gary Barnidge suffered a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle in practice Thursday. Head coach Ron Rivera said he didn't know the time frame for Barnidge's return.

Among the other players sitting out Friday's game was wide receiver Steve Smith, still healing from a cut to his finger.

"Steve Smith is a playmaker, and his presence is needed out there, but we still have some young receivers out there that are capable of making big plays," Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said. "We can't use that as a crutch. With or without Steve, we didn't play to the best of our ability."

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