Theyre not booing. Theyre saying Poole. Or theyre singing Rocky Top. Tauren Poole, the rookie running back out of Tennessee, had a strong first half. First three carries: 25 yards and a touchdown.
• Should the Panthers have offered a contract to a pass rusher instead of a five-year extension to running back Jonathan Stewart? Obviously, they are deeper at running back than at defensive end, but they are deeper almost everywhere than they are at defensive end. I like Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, much more than I like Stewart or DeAngelo Williams. Stewart is the teams best receiver out of the backfield. I would not want to see this team without him.
• I realize this was merely the first of four practice games, but Carolinas special teams were miserable. Trindon Holliday, who is 5-foot-4, returned Olindo Mares first kick 90 yards for a touchdown. He made the run look easy. It was easy. Fans at Bank of America Stadium had hoped a former SEC star would have a big night returning kicks. I suspect they were pulling for Carolinas Joe Adams, formerly of Arkansas. Holliday played at LSU.
• Cornerback Josh Thomas showed why Carolina head coach Ron Rivera is high on him. He neatly deflected what looked like a second-quarter touchdown pass to Keshawn (Dont Call Me Keyshawn) Martin, and celebrated by tumbling to the turf. Thomas, 23, was drafted in the fifth round last season by Dallas, waived in final cuts, and picked up by the Panthers.
• Steve Smith was the last Panther out of the tunnel during introductions. After a couple poses, he took off as if he was running on a London track. Why do people love to play football? Where else can you attract wild and emotional applause just for showing up?