Even though Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera couldnt stop himself from looking to the future with draft picks Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, he mentioned two undrafted defensive backs who stood out the most to him Friday.
At the first day of rookie camp, former Alabama safety Robert Lester and former Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Melvin White were the two players who made the greatest impression on the Panthers third-year coach.
The two guys we felt really good about, who we thought were draftable was the safety from Alabama and I really liked Melvin White, Rivera said after the two-hour session. Hes another guy we felt had a chance to get drafted and didnt unfortunately. I think those two guys really showed well today.
The defensive backfield was the biggest need the Panthers did not address in the draft in April. The team took two defensive tackles and a linebacker with three of its five draft picks, and added journeyman CB Drayton Florence, CB D.J. Moore and S Mike Mitchell in free agency.
Both White and Lester are among the 18 players signed by the team, while 36 are tryout players hoping to get a contract and the remaining five are draft picks.
Really, the good tell-tale will be when we get an opportunity to watch the tape, to be honest with you, because there were so many good things that did happen, Rivera said. The real good test will be (Saturday). The guys will have a day under their belt, theyre a little bit more into the playbook and well really see where they are: How many guys retain the things, what type of retention level these guys have. And really I think itll be a chance to see who has a chance to help us as we go down the line.
The team will have two two-hour sessions Saturday, with the first in the late morning and the second in the afternoon. The practices are closed to the public.
Zordichs Road: Sometimes players throw around the word adversity when describing what they went through in college.
Former Penn State fullback Michael Zordich is applying the term appropriately.
Zordich became the de facto spokesman for the Nittany Lions football team last year when the program was hit with major NCAA sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case.
Zordich was one of several Penn State players who stayed with the team despite the ability to transfer to another school with no penalty.
That was a learning experience as much as anything, he said. I learned the power of a team and how much you can overcome if everyone gets in on it. The value of doing what people say you cant do. It ended up being one of the greatest years of my life with a great group of guys. I was thankful for the guys.
Hes not the only Nittany Lion at Carolinas facilities. Quarterback Matt McGloin is one of two signal callers at the minicamp, and its nice to see a familiar face on the field, Zordich said.
We have wise cracks on the field just like back at Penn State, Zordich said. Hes playing well and hopefully Im doing the same and make the best of this.
Gladiator Horton: Former Southern Cal defensive end Wes Horton grew up in a football atmosphere like a lot of kids.
Not many grew up on the set of the hit TV show American Gladiators, though.
Hortons dad, Myke, was an offensive tackle at UCLA before being drafted by the Patriots and later playing in the USFL and CFL. But Myke is better recognized as Gemini, one of the original six members of the popular competition show from 1989-1992.
Horton said even now his dad is still recognized on the streets as Gemini, The King of the Joust.
I was real young. I was like 3-4 years old, but it was cool, said Horton of going on set. I remember briefly playing on the sets, The Eliminator, doing all that fun stuff.