Injury give rookie QB "Road House" a chance with Panthers Print
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Monday, 27 August 2007 17:08
NFL Headline News

 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Dalton Bell seemed destined to be known among the Carolina Panthers only for the nickname coach John Fox gave him: Road House.
But after Brett Basanez's season-ending wrist injury, the undrafted rookie quarterback now has a chance to make the regular season roster rather than be remembered for having the same first name as Patrick Swayze's character in the 1980s movie ``Road House'' that Bell said he once watched ``reluctantly.''
Even though the baby-faced Bell would have a hard time passing himself off as a tough guy bouncer of a seedy, roadside bar, he isn't complaining about the nickname given to him by the man who will determine his NFL future.
``As long as he's happy with that, I'm fine with that,'' Bell said, jokingly.
M, knew he faced virtually no shot at making the team when he signed to be the No. 4 quarterback for training camp.
Last year the Panthers started the season with only two quarterbacks, so the thinking was their lone decision would be whether to keep Basanez on the roster behind starter Jake Delhomme and backup David Carr.
When Basanez damaged ligaments in his right wrist during Friday's exhibition loss to New England and was placed on injured reserve, Bell was suddenly promoted to third string.
With Delhomme sitting out practice Monday to rest, Bell even took some snaps with the first team.
``Yesterday I was a little nervous. I'm not going to lie,'' Bell said. ``Today I felt a lot better, getting into the groove and getting used to that. It's just football.''
Bell will get a chance to show what he can do in Thursday's final exhibition game against Pittsburgh. It's possible Bell could play up to three quarters since Delhomme and Carr will likely play only a series or two apiece.
``He's got a live arm, and he seems willing to learn and he's made progress,'' Fox said.
Bell said he's leaned on the three quarterbacks ahead of him for advice on the field, and off. He acknowledges it's been tough to go from Division II in tiny Canyon - near Amarillo - to the NFL.
``I tell them about where it is, how much different it is there,'' Bell said of Canyon, also his hometown. ``They seem to look at me a little dumbfounded some times and don't believe me. But it's fun.
``It's a lot different. It's a lot smaller. There are a lot less people. Nobody comes to practice and watches. It's just a different world.''
While Bell faces long odds, so did Swayze's character, until he saved the bar and the town.
The other Dalton hopes to spring a similar upset and make the Panthers' 53-man roster. He was the last one to leave the field after Monday's practice, and he knows how well he plays in the final exhibition game likely will determine his fate.
``It's a big opportunity. I'm just hoping to do the best with it Thursday night,'' Bell said. ``Hopefully good things will happen.''
Notes: Safety Nate Salley sat out practice with continued pain in his right knee, an injury he first suffered on Aug. 1. ... The Panthers must reduce the roster by four players by Tuesday afternoon.
 

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