Panthers face distractions on first day of training camp

Published 3:48 pm Saturday, July 28, 2007

By By MIKE CRANSTON, AP Sports Writer
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Kris Jenkins climbed out of his black Escalade with his personal trainer, waved off reporters and walked inside the dormitory, leaving the trainer to answer questions about his weight and fitness.
He insisted Jenkins, who skipped June’s voluntary workouts and had asked for a new contract, was in great shape. But he wouldn’t say how much the defensive tackle weighed.
The scene was part of a bizarre first day of training camp Friday for the Carolina Panthers, who were missing their unsigned first-round draft pick, Jon Beason, and dealing with the distraction of Thursday’s arrest of offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges.
Bridges was arrested Thursday and charged with misdemeanor assault after a woman who works at a strip club said Bridges pointed a gun at her in the club’s parking lot.
Bridges, who was released on $3,000 bond, arrived at training camp on time, but Fox wouldn’t say if he would practice Saturday.
While both of the Panthers’ second-round picks — receiver Dwayne Jarrett and center Ryan Kalil — reported on time after last-minute deals were reached, Beason was missing. And it appeared the linebacker from Miami would not be signed in time before the first practice Saturday morning.
The Panthers do not have to worry about Jenkins holding out. He reported on time despite being the only player to miss June’s workouts, two months after the Panthers tried and failed to trade him due to concerns about his soaring weight.
Jenkins arrived without a new contract, which his agent requested. But Jenkins appeared slimmed down from May’s mandatory minicamp, when it was estimated he weighed more than 380 pounds — at least 45 more than his listed weight.
Jenkins forfeited a $175,000 bonus by skipping team conditioning sessions in the winter, and then didn’t take part in three weeks of June workouts.
But Messay Hailemariam, a personal trainer based from Greenbelt, Md., said Jenkins worked out with him four to six days a week for the past several months. The regimen included strength and conditioning, swimming pool work, and running on a track.
But how much does he weigh?
Jenkins’ arrival shortly after 11 a.m. came nearly four hours after tackle Travelle Wharton lugged his belongings into Greene Hall at Wofford College.
Wharton, who tore two ligaments in his left knee in Week 1 last year and missed the rest of the season, has recovered and said he can’t wait to take part in the first practice Saturday morning.
Fox said Wharton and defensive end Mike Rucker — also recovering from knee surgery — would likely practice only once a day early in camp. Linebacker Dan Morgan, cleared to return after multiple concussions, could be held out of some contact drills.
Meanwhile, the Panthers released defensive tackle Jordan Carstens after he failed a physical. Carstens was hospitalized late last season with a blood clot on his lung as a result of complications from a kidney disease.
The Panthers also waived rookie receiver Julius McClellan.