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Thunderstorm forces practice inside

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - When thunderstorms forced the Panthers to move practice inside Wofford's basketball arena Monday evening, defensive end Charles Johnson decided to break into an agility drill – with a basketball in hand.

Some Wofford basketball players who had a workout cut short by the Panthers' arrival were still around, so the 285-pound Johnson borrowed a ball and deftly dribbled between his legs a few times.

"Charles Johnson is pretty good," said fellow defensive end Eric Norwood, an accomplished hoopster himself at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Ga. "Cam (Newton) is good. I actually saw him play in high school."

Norwood also acknowledged the roundball skills of defensive end Greg Hardy, tight end Nelson Rosario and wide receiver Brandon LaFell.

"I'm a beast," LaFell offered.

But basketball, of course, wasn't what the Panthers had in mind. Five days before their preseason opener against the Houston Texans at Bank of America Stadium, they had to make do with running through plays at quarter-speed inside Benjamin Johnson Arena.

And with more rain in the forecast for the latter part of Tuesday, the Panthers have moved Tuesday's practice up to a 10:30 a.m. start.

The Panthers did get in about 30 minutes of work outside before the bad weather hit, and after waiting it out for about 30 minutes, they practiced for about an hour sideline-to-sideline across the length of three basketball courts.

"It's more of a mental practice where you can go over all the details," tight end Gary Barnidge said. "You also can work on your footwork a lot easier because you're in a controlled environment."

Like many of his teammates, Barnidge used to have some pretty nifty footwork on the basketball court, but those days are mostly behind him.

"I don't want to risk anything injury-wise," said Barnidge, who missed last season with a leg injury. "I like to shoot around, but I don't run around and jump and all that kind of stuff. I do like to shoot HORSE."


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