SPARTANBURG Ted Ginn Jr. said he wants to take it slow during his first training camp with the Panthers.
Say what you will about Ginns sometimes-suspect hands or his issues with fumbling, but the return specialist never has done anything slowly.
Its kind of hard to show slowness, Ginn said.
The Panthers first full-pads practice Sunday gave fans a look at Ginns potential for big plays and his past problems. Ginn, who signed a one-year deal during March, made several tough catches and showed off his speed on a couple of deep routes.
But he also dropped a Cam Newton pass that hit him squarely in the hands.
Ginn, the 2007 first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins, is just happy to be competing for a spot in the Panthers receiving rotation after being relegated to returning punts and kickoffs in San Francisco during the 49ers run to the Super Bowl.
Ginn, who caught two passes for 1 yard during 2012, heard from a couple of teams during free agency, but he said the Panthers assured him he would get a shot as a receiver and a returner.
A lot of guys see me as a punt returner or a specialist, Ginn said following Sundays practice. Here they were just, Hey man, just come in and show us what youve got.
Ginn and Domenik Hixon, another free-agent acquisition, look to be the leading candidates for the No. 3 receiver spot that was vacated when Louis Murphy left in free agency.
After Ginn, whose combine time in the 40-yard dash was 4.28 seconds, had to slow down for a Newton pass during spring workouts, Newton vowed he would not under throw him again.
We saw that Sunday, Ginn said.
During a one-on-one drill matching receivers against defensive backs, Ginn could not catch up to a deep ball from Newton that landed a few feet away from him.
In this game, youve got to have some kind of competition within practice, Ginn said. Now Ive got to get on my horse and go get that.
Ginn said he has enjoyed getting to know Newton in the little time theyve spent together.
Hes a great guy, he said. Cam is kind of to himself a little bit from time to time. But when he wants to interact and he wants to play with us, we have a good time and I enjoy him.
Ginn, 28, was the odd man out last season for the 49ers, whose top receivers were Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss. Ginn, who caught just 33 passes over three seasons in San Francisco, accepted his role.
Fighting for a championship, a Super Bowl, you have to give up different things, he said. You have to give yourself up. You have to become a team player.
Panthers receivers coach Ricky Proehl said he was surprised by how infrequently the Niners used Ginn as a receiver.
The thing I really respect about Ted is he knew it was time for a change and hes excited for a fresh start, and he never said a bad word about San Francisco, Proehl said. He just wants an opportunity to play. If he continues to work hard and do the things hes capable of doing, hes definitely going to get an opportunity.
Coach Ron Rivera said the Panthers will look for ways to capitalize on Ginns speed.
The beauty of it, too, is its not just about him going vertical, as much as just getting the ball in his hands and letting him use his speed and athleticism, Rivera said. Theres a place for that type of ability and were going to try to maximize it.
But Ginns biggest impact still figures to come as a returner. Since entering the league, Ginns 6,856 returns yards kickoffs and punts rank fourth.
And while he has a reputation for fumbling, Ginn has lost two fumbles in six seasons. Compare that with Panthers punt returner Joe Adams, who lost three in nine games last season.
Ginn said its nice coming to Carolina with a clean slate.
New guy, but old. Ive been in this game for a while, he said. But coming here and playing with the Panthers has been great. Im just trying to come in and take it slow, and show them what Ive got.
Complete Carolina Panthers coverage from The Charlotte Observer at CharlotteObserver.com/panthers
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less