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Delhomme: no guarantee Panthers keep no-huddle

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

Jake Delhomme talks of being comfortable in it. Steve Smith raves about it. DeAngelo Williams is a fan, too. The no-huddle offense was a hit in Carolina on Sunday, producing two touchdown passes from Delhomme to Smith in a victory over Atlanta. But Delhomme hinted Tuesday that folks hoping it will become a regular part of the offense may be disappointed. Blame left tackle Jordan Gross' broken ankle and the cramming going on ahead of Thursday's game against Miami. "I enjoy it, but to say you can do that throughout the course of the whole season, I don't think you can do that," Delhomme said. "And certainly losing Jordan, I don't know how much we can really dive into it, especially on a short week." The new wrinkle has Dolphins coach Tony Sparano on notice, however. He acknowledged they had to adapt a game-plan they had already begun to put in place last week with only three days off between games. "It presents some challenges, particularly in a short week," he said. The Panthers have had the no-huddle in the playbook since training camp, but had used it almost exclusively in the 2-minute offense. That changed on the second series Sunday, when the Panthers surprised the Falcons with Delhomme calling his own plays at the line of scrimmage. It produced touchdowns on the first two drives as Carolina built a 21-10 halftime lead. Smith called it "controlled chaos," while Williams, who rushed for 92 yards, said it opened up the run game. "It showed we're not just a one-dimensional team," he said. "We can pass the ball." It also marked the third straight game Delhomme went turnover-free after 13 interceptions in the first six games. "It's satisfying to see Jake get his confidence back," said receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who had six catches for 91 yards in his return from a knee injury. It puts Delhomme his element. He breaks the huddle with a certain number of plays - he wouldn't say how many - and makes the call based on what he sees from the defense. "Try to be a coordinator," Delhomme said. "Try to call whatever plays we have called, and we have a wide variety we can choose from. The good thing is we can get into a lot of different formations. Guys can play multiple positions, so that's always good." Smith and Muhammad have experience playing both the X and Y receiver positions. Carolina's tight ends can also block from the fullback spot. It allowed the Panthers to keep the Falcons off-balance. "I feel very comfortable in that situation," Delhomme said. But the win came at a cost. Gross was carted off the field in the second quarter with a broken right ankle. The Panthers moved veteran Travelle Wharton from left guard to Gross' spot. Second-year pro Mackenzy Bernadeau replaced Wharton. Center Ryan Kalil thinks the new-look line could still operate effectively in the no-huddle. "Mentally it's not challenging as much as it is physically," Kalil said. "You've got to catch your breath and roll down the field, keeping making plays." Delhomme completed 15 of 24 passes for 195 yards Sunday, while Carolina ran the ball 34 times. It's close to the balance missing the last two weeks when the Panthers were one-sided with the run. Delhomme hinted Tuesday that they want to control time of possession more against the Dolphins, which might lead them to want to slow down the offense. Carolina held the ball nearly 3 minutes less than the Falcons. But history shows putting Delhomme in an environment where's had success - the 2-minute offense - and letting him throw it some - but not too much - determines Carolina's fortunes. Counting the playoffs, Delhomme is 50-7 when he throws 30 or fewer passes. He's 9-31 when he throws more than 30. "What makes Jake such a great asset to our team is he's a good field general," Kalil said. "He's somebody who in the huddle, outside the huddle, he does a great job coordinating and putting guys in the right positions. Obviously, in the no-huddle that's extremely important." NOTES: Delhomme said he visited Gross in the hospital Monday as he recovers from surgery. "Typical Jordan fashion, he apologizes for getting his leg broke," Delhomme said. ... DE Charles Johnson (pectoral) joined the normal list of players missing practice, which included RB Jonathan Stewart (Achilles'), FB Brad Hoover (ankle) and S Charles Godfrey (ankle). DT Damione Lewis (shoulder) was limited. ... DE Julius Peppers wasn't listed on the injury report and wasn't wearing a cast in the locker room after being limited Sunday because of a right hand injury.
Tagged: Saints, Panthers

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