Fan Fest won't be as hit-filled as usual this year because the Panthers' list of available players has been hit hard by injuries, a fight and an excused absence.
Eleven players are expected to miss today's practice at Bank of American Stadium, leaving 69 to participate in a scaled-down scrimmage in front of the home fans.
The Panthers usually have extensive full-contact plays at Fan Fest, but coach John Fox said he'll cut the contact from four periods to three because of the lack of numbers.
Receiver Steve Smith and cornerback Ken Lucas won't participate after their fight on the sidelines Friday morning left Lucas with a facial injury.
Kick returner/receiver Ryne Robinson injured his knee Thursday and is scheduled to have an MRI today, but he doesn't think the injury is season-ending. Defensive tackle Ian Scott is out for several weeks with a ligament sprain in his knee.
Other players who are out for shorter periods of time are defensive tackles Damione Lewis (leg), Maake Kemoeatu (shoulder) and Darwin Walker (head); linebacker Adam Seward (abdominal); running back LaBrandon Toefield (shoulder); and safety Nate Salley (hip).
Also, linebacker Thomas Davis was excused from practice Friday to attend a funeral and might not be back today.
The Panthers will unveil their stadium's new video board and sound system today. It's expected to be a major upgrade.
Events at the stadium begin at 7:30a.m. with a 5K Road Race starting at the East Gate. Beginning at 9a.m., there will be interactive games, face painting, music and other activities. The TopCats cheerleaders and Sir Purr, the team mascot, will sign autographs before practice.
A punt, pass and kick competition also will be held. Passing for youth 15-and-under will be held in one end zone, with kicking for those 16-and-over in the other end zone.
Tackle Charles Spencer was back at practice Friday after missing several days. He's trying to come back from a knee injury suffered with the Houston Texans that shelved him for nearly two years.
On Sunday, the Panthers will get their first day off since training camp opened July25. They'll be back at practice Monday in Spartanburg for two sessions, at 9:10a.m. and 6:40p.m.
The approaches of Smith and Lucas will go a long way toward determining whether their fight has a lingering impact on the season.
Lucas could take civil action against Smith. If he does, the impact on team unity could be adverse. But if Lucas suffered substantial injury, he might feel compelled to do so.
Smith needs not to be defensive and must apologize, not only to Lucas but also to the entire team and the public.
It must be difficult for Smith to revisit his old anger issue after apparently making so much improvement in recent years, but he must do whatever is necessary to assure such an incident never happens again.
Fox is a fine man and coach, but he missed the mark Friday when he said of the fight: “It's part of football and you deal with it.”
Scuffles, scrums, even temper tantrums, are part of football, but one player putting his fist to another's face is not.
To Smith's credit, it didn't take long at all for him to seek out Lucas to apologize. He must feel terrible about what happened.
The Panthers might have an announcement today regarding disciplinary action related to the incident.
One-on-one blocking drills in Friday morning's practice featured defensive end Tyler Brayton blasting past guard Evan Mathis and guard Travelle Wharton doing a good job of stuffing the rush of end Stanley McClover.
More About Fan Fest
Bank of America Stadium will open at 9:30a.m., and every fan in attendance will receive a 2008 team roster card. Watch the Panthers 2007 highlights video on the new PantherVision screens and performances by the TopCats and Sir Purr.
There will also be on-field contests for fans.
Then at 11a.m., the Panthers will be in action. The practice will feature stretching, individual drills, seven-on-seven, special teams and team periods and a scrimmage.
It's a chance to see the return of Jake Delhomme and Muhsin Muhammad and the team's 2008 draft choices.
The Team Store, selling this season's new merchandise, and Ticket Office, selling 2008 single-game tickets and PSLs, will also open at 9a.m.
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