Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Coming home

The Carolina Panthers broke camp Wednesday morning, heading back to Charlotte, but will only have time to drop their bags off at home, grab a shower and get something to eat, before heading north to Philadelphia for Thursday nights pre-season game.

Other than the ugly Steve Smith-Ken Lucas incident, this was a good camp for the Panthers. Better than last year, and not just because it was shorter. The practices that I saw were very crisp, very efficient, very productive. There are still decisions to be made regarding roster spots, and that's what the next 3 weeks are for--seeing the borderline guys in game situations. Game 2 Thursday, then next Saturday at home, followed by the pre-season finale on August 28th.

The Panthers will be shorthanded (in terms of their starters) as Smith, Lucas, and Chris Gamble are not expected to make the trip to Philly. Receiver Dwayne Jarrett (knee injury) likely won't go either. Expect to see lots of Muhsin Muhammad and Jason Carter on Thursday night, plus there is a chance rookie Jonathan Stewart will see some playing time against the Eagles.

Last year, the Panthers were thumped 27-10 by Philly in the pre-season. That loss meant the same as a pre-season win. Nothing, once the regular season starts.

Another late night of Olympic watching, but man, just how good is Michael Phelps? So good, that the unthinkable crossed my mind last night right after Sports Night. What if he isn't clean? I would think there would have been a positive test by now, so it's seems highly unlikely he's cheating. I'm just surprised that there hasn't been the snickers from the cynics out there. The non-believers were chirping about Dara Torres (the 42 year old mom, who is competing in these games for the US). It was a witch-hunt for Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, and Roger Clemens, but Phelps doesn't raise the slightest thought.

Let me state, for the record, I am not rooting for a positive test. I WANT Phelps to be clean. I just think it's sad that this is where we are in the sports landscape. Great performances can't be great performances anymore. There has to be SOME reason for them, and the doubters will now, and always, point to performance enhancers. I don't want to become one of those people that feels every sporting moment must be chemically enhanced. It's hard to remain a fan of sport these days when so many athletes are using the chemical means, rather than the natural means.

Very glad for Charlottean Ricky Berens, and his first Olympic gold in the men's 4 x 200 relay. How sick is it that they were the first team to swim that race in under 7 minutes? Another world record performance (Phelps has his hands in 5 new world records in Beijing) for, without question, the top swimming outfit in the world.

I wonder if it's these new suits that are making these swimmers faster. Of course, the manufacturer will say that to sell more suits. There needs to be a study done on this, by an unbiased agency to see if these things actually work. I'd be interested to see the results, and if the IOC allows them in the future (if they actually do work).

More mindless musings for you on Thursday--maybe even a live blog during the Panthers game (with a break for Sports Night at 10 of course).

Check out Sports Night tonight--Levelle Moton from North Carolina Central, and David Noel (former Tar Heel, now NBA guard/forward) will be in studio, plus we'll take a look at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro--1st round action begins on Thursday!

Mike Solarte

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