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Carolina Panthers’ Frank Alexander fined for punch vs. Seattle

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DAVID T. FOSTER III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith (89) talks with Frank Alexander (90) after Alexander was ejected from the game against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter of their season opening game at Bank of America Stadium on September 8, 2013. Seattle won, 12-7. David T. Foster III-dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

The punch that Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander threw last weekend drew a penalty, an ejection and now a fine.

Alexander said the league fined him $15,750 for taking a swing at Seattle right tackle Breno Giacomini in the Seahawks’ 12-7 win in Week 1.

Alexander plans to appeal the fine, but said he was wrong for letting his emotions get the best of him.

“The league made their decision. So all I can do is just go with it and learn from the mistake, and just move on,” Alexander said Wednesday. “It was one of those things, I got caught in the heat of the moment.”

Carolina coach Ron Rivera warned his players before the game the Seahawks were a chippy team. Giacomini and defensive end Greg Hardy were in a shoving match earlier in the game.

Alexander’s personal foul negated Panthers safety Charles Godfrey’s sack of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and his disqualification affected the defensive end rotation.

“They warned us. But you get caught up in that moment,” Alexander said. “Before I realized it, I had thrown the punch. I didn’t mean to do it, but it was heat of the moment.”

Competition resumes: Strong safety Mike Mitchell returned to practice Wednesday and resumed his spot in the starting lineup. Mitchell was the starter throughout the preseason before a calf injury sidelined him for the opener vs. Seattle.

With Mitchell out, the Panthers signed free agent safety Quintin Mikell, who started against the Seahawks less than a week after joining the team.

Mikell had three tackles and a pass defense against Seattle before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps.

“This is going to be one of those things where we’ll be probably be rotating in the game and it will probably sort itself out within the next couple weeks,” Mitchell said. “I’m not even really worrying about it. When they tell me to go in, I’m going to go in.”

On guard: Left guard Amini Silatolu said he practiced at full speed Wednesday after being bothered by a hamstring injury for several weeks. Silatolu said he’s confident he’ll be fine to play Sunday at Buffalo, where he expects to share reps with veteran Travelle Wharton.

Right guard Garry Williams was lost for the season after tearing ligaments in his left knee against Seattle. Recent pickup Chris Scott will start in Williams’ former spot.

“It’s unfortunate. But we haven’t missed a step on the O-line,” Silatolu said. “I came back and just keep it rolling.”

The Panthers limited Wharton’s reps in Week 1 after he missed last season following knee surgery in his lone season in Cincinnati.

“I like the plan because the season’s so long,” Wharton said. “Yeah, you want to jump in there and get all the plays. But at the end of the day, I haven’t played a lot of football. Running and conditioning, that’s different from lining up and putting on the pads and playing a live game.”

Welcome back: Not long after defensive tackle Sione Fua’s furniture arrived in San Francisco, he’ll have to get it re-shipped to Charlotte. Fua, part of the final Aug. 31 roster cuts, re-signed with the Panthers less than two weeks later.

Fua, a third-round pick in 2011, had cleared out of his Charlotte condo and needs to find new living arrangements. But he’s happy for the minor inconvenience.

“It sucks being at home, just sitting on the couch and waiting for someone to call you. I didn’t know how long it was going to take until I got that call,” said Fua, who worked out for New England but was not offered a contract.

“I was happy to come back, come to a place that I know – know the coaches, know the system. It was kind of a no-brainer for me.”

Fua’s return means he and Cam Newton are the two remaining members on the active roster from the Panthers’ draft class of ’11. Wideout Kealoha Pilares is on injured reserve.

Extra points: Cornerback Josh Thomas remains a starter, despite being beaten on consecutive, fourth-quarter plays against the Seahawks, including the game-winning, 43-yard touchdown catch by Jermaine Kearse.

Rivera said rookie running back Kenjon Barner, who has not played since injuring his foot during the preseason, will be out this week but could return against the Giants in Week 3.

Carolina added a pair of practice squad players, signing offensive lineman Mike Jasper (6-foot-4, 375) and re-signing defensive tackle Casey Walker, whom they cut a day earlier.

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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