SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Panthers running back Mike Goodson campaigned to get back on the practice field as soon as possible following an ankle injury, and he got his wish Monday.
"We've just got a great training staff," Goodson said after practicing for the first time since Aug. 1. "They expected me to be out a little longer, but those guys worked with me and worked with me and got me back."
Now, the coaching staff will pick up where the athletic training staff left off, as Goodson joined his fellow backs for individual drills Monday.
First, the running backs work on their footwork by taking turns speeding through four pads laid across the turf. Each back stutter-steps through them twice, then sidesteps through them twice.
Goodson and Jonathan Stewart run straight through them as they continue to get up to full speed, but they get more involved – and certainly show some exuberance – when they're armed with pads and violently swat at their fellow running backs after they negotiate the pads.
Next, running backs coach Jim Skipper arranges three of the pads to meet at a point and fan out like the spokes of a wheel. The running backs take turns putting a hand on the ground at the point where the pads meet, then quickly tip-toe through space between the pads in a circular motion. At the end, former Panthers running back Stephen Davis – now a coaching intern – pummels them with one of the pads that Goodson and Stewart previously wielded.
The backs go through all the above drills carrying a special football, a blue one covered with a material that replicates the feel of a rain-slicked ball.
The running backs don't need a ball for their final drills, when they walk through some pass protection schemes against the blitz.
GOOD TO BE BACK: Goodson took part in portions of the practice for the first time since suffering what at first looked like a potentially devastating injury in the Panthers' sixth practice of camp.
"It was just a lead up the middle, and guys kind of fell on top of me and my feet got tangled and twisted my (left) ankle – a high ankle sprain," Goodson said. "I thought it was my Achilles, and that's never what you want, but once I realized it wasn't, I was kind of happy."
Still, Goodson had to work long and hard to get back in the mix. Though he's not yet participating in contact play, he's holding out hope of suiting up for the Panthers' preseason home opener Saturday night against the New York Jets.
"Watching all your boys get those runs last week, you kind of want to get out there and be a part of it. I'm definitely anxious," Goodson said. "I'm definitely going to give it a shot.
"We're going to keep rehabbing it to see if I could get this thing to 100 percent."
Goodson had gotten off to a strong start in camp, coming off a rookie season in 2009 when he served as the team's primary kickoff returner at times during the first half of the season before injuries sidelined him most of the second half of the season.
"I put a lot of work in over this summer to get better, and I thought I was on a roll," Goodson said. "Now I've got to get back into it."
CAMP CONCLUSION NEARS: Both of Monday's practices were moved to Gibbs Stadium because the scheduled sites for practice were oversaturated by recent rains, but the Panthers should be back on their regular practice fields Tuesday.
The Panthers will hold their final T-shirt Tuesday following a 3 p.m. practice, then on Wednesday they'll break camp following a 9 a.m. practice.