CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -A day after a 20-minute players-only meeting, the Carolina Panthers returned to practice Thursday determined to salvage their spiraling season.
``It was about being who you are and doing what got you to this point where you are today,'' cornerback Ken Lucas said. ``Whatever got you to this level, do that every Sunday. You've got to keep that fire in your heart, and maybe that's something we're missing, that fire.''
The Panthers have looked sluggish for three straight weeks in a 2-2 start. The defense has two sacks and no interceptions, the offense has been inconsistent and there have been several key injuries.
Carolina quickly fell behind 14-0 against the Buccaneers on Sunday and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins went to the media after the game, a 20-7 home loss. He accused his teammates of having ``no heart'' and called the performance ``garbage.''
Jenkins said he stood by the comments a day later, while quarterback Jake Delhomme said he felt the team was playing hard. Other players, including receiver Steve Smith and defensive end Julius Peppers, refused to speak to reporters.
Offensive lineman Mike Wahle then called a meeting for Wednesday afternoon, and the consensus Thursday was that it was effective.
``I got a positive vibe from it,'' defensive end Mike Rucker said.
Players declined to say who spoke and Jenkins wouldn't discuss the specifics of the meeting.
``I think people aired out how they feel,'' Lucas said. ``I don't think anyone took what was said personal. I think it was good that everyone got a chance to express themselves. The floor was open to anyone who wanted to speak. It wasn't just the veteran guys, it was rookies on up.
``I think that meeting was more about having a sense of urgency to go out there and perform from the beginning of the game to the end. We have not been doing that in the four games we have had so far.''
The Panthers are expected to be without two key starters again Sunday at New Orleans.
Quarterback Jake Delhomme (elbow) and middle linebacker Dan Morgan (foot) missed their second straight day of practice this week. Kickoff returner Nick Goings (concussion) and linebacker Adam Seward (calf) have also missed practice.
David Carr, who completed less than 50 percent of his passes and was sacked three times against Tampa Bay, will likely replace Delhomme against the equally disappointing Saints (0-3).
``Nobody is happy with how we performed,'' Lucas said. ``But the good thing about it is we're 2-2 and we still have a chance to do well. But if we continue to play the way we've been playing, then more than likely that will not happen.''

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