SPARTANBURG David Gettis looked like a promising rookie receiver in 2010, blowing past defensive backs with his sprinters speed and scoring three touchdowns for a Carolina Panthers squad that only had 16 offensive scores as a team.
Then he was gone.
A torn ACL in his left knee at training camp ended Gettis 2011 season, and a nagging hamstring injury limited him to two games during 2012. Gettis resurfaced Friday night against the Chicago Bears, catching a team-high three passes for 56 yards in a preseason win.
Its been two years since I actually got some playing time, Gettis said Sunday. Everythings about progressing right now.
Gettis began last season on the physically unable to perform list and wasnt much of a factor after being activated in November. He recorded no stats against Denver and Atlanta.
Last year I was up there just to be there, Gettis said. This year theyre giving me the opportunity to make plays and show where Im at as far as my health and my overall knowledge of the offense and the system.
Gettis said hes 100 percent healthy and running like he did as a rookie, when he caught 37 passes for 508 yards and the three scores including an 88-yarder from Brian St. Pierre that tied for the third-longest reception in team history.
Gettis is competing with Armanti Edwards, Kealoha Pilares and Joe Adams for one of the final receiving spots on the 53-man roster. Receivers coach Ricky Proehl said Gettis has improved his route-running, which had been a concern, and looks good physically.
He definitely was struggling with that a year ago, and I dont think he ever felt 100 percent, never felt confident enough to really let it loose, Proehl said. I think this year you can definitely tell a difference. Youd never know he had an ACL.
Injury update: The Panthers had several players hurt in Fridays preseason opener, the most serious of which was a torn ACL sustained by rookie fullback Mike Zordich. The undrafted free agent from Penn State was having a good camp but will have season-ending surgery, coach Ron Rivera said.
Third-year cornerback James Dockery will have surgery on his broken thumb Monday and is expected to miss a couple of weeks.
Backup left tackle Bruce Campbell sat out Sunday with a shoulder injury; his timetable for returning is uncertain. Adams (calf) and Edwards (hamstring) also were sidelined Sunday.
Star butterflies: Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei said last week he expected the nerves to hit just before his first NFL action. He felt those butterflies Friday night, but they didnt last long.
A little bit of nerves right before kickoff, but just knowing where I need to be, knowing my assignments, and the vets help out a lot, he said.
Lotulelei only got one play into his NFL career before he came off the field thanks to a Josh Norman interception on the Bears first offensive play. On that play, Lotulelei did exactly what the Panthers drafted him for: He took up two offensive linemen.
He said he thought he did a good job with his assignments, but hed still like to see himself become a better pass rusher.
Just constantly pushing the pocket inside and not allowing the quarterback to step up in situations where our ends are coming off the edge, Lotulelei said of his area for improvement.
• Rookie guard Edmund Kugbila practiced for the first time since July 26 but had to go to the training room for treatment on his hamstring. The fourth-round pick has yet to make it through a full practice, including organized team activities and minicamp.
• When the second-team defense was on the field for team passing drills, the starting defensive backs corners Captain Munnerlyn and Drayton Florence, and safeties Mike Mitchell and Charles Godfrey did extra running behind the end zone.
• Cam Newton ran out and corner routes for fourth-string quarterback Colby Cameron
• The Panthers switched up practice jerseys Sunday. After practicing last week in white (offense) and blue (defense), the defense took white jerseys and offense broke out the black jerseys for the first time.
• With the win Friday night, Krispy Kreme will hold a promotion Monday in the Carolinas. If you buy one dozen doughnuts, the second dozen will be $2.99.
• James Robert Kennedy, better known as Radio, made his annual appearance at training camp with his former coach, TL Hannahs Harold Jones. Kennedy was the inspiration for the 2003 film, Radio.
Three questions with Cam Newton from Fridays game
Q. I know you gave TE Brandon Williams (6-foot-4, 250) a hard time at camp about being slow; how about that catch over the middle that set up the touchdown before halftime?
I never said he was slow. I always kid with him because he has a body of a Greek god. The nickname for him is Swole Bones. Im telling you, this guy is yolked up. They should have a nutrition campaign after this guy.
Q. Were you cold on the sideline with the toboggan on your head?
The skullie? Thats my swag, man. Cant sweat the technique. I always get criticized about the towel so I had to put something on my head.
Q. Obviously youd rather be playing, but it looked like you were having a lot of fun cheering on your teammates during the second half. Do you like that?
Its always fun to be around the guys. Im not used to being free and doing things on the sideline. It kind of gets boring for me, so I had to stay engaged. Find out what the play was and make mental notes to make myself better.
Getting to know
CB Drayton Florence
NFL experience: 11 years
The scoop: Signed as a free agent this offseason, Florence came to a Panthers squad that had just cut veteran cornerback Chris Gamble. Florence has been running with the first team since early in camp, and he figures to be locked into a starting spot going into the regular season.
Twitter handle: @DraytonFlorence
Recent tweet: Best Mexican restaurant in Charlotte????
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