Julius Peppers' bull-rush on Chris Samuels might have been the signature moment of the Carolina Panthers' preseason.
Peppers drove the five-time Pro Bowl tackle backward 5 yards and into Washington quarterback Jason Campbell. Campbell fumbled and Peppers scooped up the ball.
It was one of those spectacular plays the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end had routinely produced - until last year's disappearing act.
Peppers has appeared bigger, stronger and quicker than last year, when he was held to a career-low 2 1/2 sacks. He was dominant in limited action in three preseason games, recording two sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
``Some people may feel like I should prove something, but I don't feel I've got anything to prove to anybody,'' Peppers said. ``I feel like I'm the same dude I've always been for 10 years now playing football, so I don't feel like I have anything to prove.''
But a dominant 2008 would likely mean a big payday. Peppers, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 draft, is entering the final year of his contract. A season full of plays similar to his manhandling of Samuels could get Peppers a deal that surpasses the six-year, $74 million contract Minnesota gave defensive end Jared Allen.
``I've got to focus on playing San Diego right now,'' Peppers said of Sunday's season opener. ``I can't really be focusing on contracts or what's going to be happening with contracts and what's going to happen after the season or during the season. I've got to focus on right now.''
TIMES CHANGE: Showing veteran coaches can learn new tricks, Mike Holmgren is trying something different when his team flies cross-country.
For the past nine years when Seattle had a game in the Eastern time zone, the team flew out Friday afternoon and had a curfew and lights out at the hotel at 11 p.m. local time that night. His players' bodies still thought they were on Seattle time, so it was only 8 p.m. when Holmgren made them go to bed like restless teens.
That hasn't worked out so well come Sundays, when his Seahawks have often slept through ugly first halves on their way to losses.
So now the 60-year-old Holmgren is relenting in his 10th and final season as Seahawks coach: games and movies and a later curfew on Friday nights.
The first trial of the new plan is this weekend at Buffalo.
``Immediately I wanted to get into the time frame of the city, (but) that's 8 o'clock. And to say, 'Lights out! Go to bed! It's 8 o'clock!'' didn't work, Holmgren said. ``So the compromise is, I'm letting them stay up. We've created a game room of sorts, maybe a movie, some food, some things like that.
``Extend the curfew on Friday night so it's a little more realistic to Seattle time. Let them get a good night's sleep, hopefully, and kind of get them acclimated that way.''
So how late do the Seahawks get to stay up?
``It's later,'' is all Holmgren would reveal, with a wry smile.
MAN BEHIND THE MASK: Carson Palmer will have a new look in the Bengals' season opener at Baltimore. For the first time in his career, he'll be wearing a protective visor on his facemask.
Palmer broke his nose in the Bengals' third preseason game. He had surgery to realign the nose, and wore a protective brace across the bridge of his nose for a week. The brace is gone, but the nose hasn't completely healed, so he'll wear a clear visor.
``The doctors are probably going to tell me I have to wear it for a little bit, so get used to that,'' Palmer said.
Palmer's voice still has a bit of a nasal sound, but he says his nose is feeling good.
``It's not as susceptible to being re-broken now that it's had a little over a week to heal,'' he said. ``So it's doing great. I can breathe. I can play.''
Palmer has seen the photo of himself walking off the field with blood oozing from both nostrils and a cut on his lip. Asked if it felt as bad as it looked, he said, ``It looked worse. It really wasn't that bad. It was definitely uncomfortable.''
TROJAN HORSE? Tennessee running back LenDale White isn't afraid to say what he thinks.
The former Southern California runner, who dissed Ohio State (and no, he isn't backing off those comments), recently shared the fact that he rooted against the Tennessee Vols and for USC's crosstown rival, UCLA, in their game Monday.
His motivation? Cheering on his former offensive coordinator with the Titans, Norm Chow, and the Pac-10.
``I was happy for him, really happy,'' White said of watching Chow win in his first game as UCLA's coordinator after being fired from the same job with Tennessee. The Bruins won 27-24 in overtime.
``I hate UCLA a lot. I hate them a lot. I was happy for the Pac-10 to bang up on the (Southeastern Conference). ... Everybody wants to give them kudos. They play the hardest in and out every week. We come out and dominate in and out of conference. It's a good thing for the Pac-10.''
White starts reeling off USC's accomplishments with six BCS bowl games, two national titles and 40 players drafted by the NFL.
And yes, this Trojan really was for UCLA.
``Because every time we go out of conference, you hear these people: 'Oh, they play in this conference. The Pac-10 conference is soft, this and that. Go to a supposed powerhouse in the SEC. You beat up on them.' Now you know,'' he said.
Z-MAN'S RASH ATTIRE: Washington Redskins first-year coach Jim Zorn is a stickler for uniform uniformity. He likes all his players dressed the same way for practice, and was only grudgingly accepting when tight end Chris Cooley started wearing shorts with a yellow stripe down the side.
With that in mind, why on earth did the coach show up for practice last week wearing his shirt inside-out?
``See this tag on the back?'' Zorn said, fingering his shirt behind the neck. ``I'm allergic, if you can believe it, to the glue. I get a rash. And it comes on with sweat. I start itching. It'll actually form the shape of the tag.''
Zorn would get the rash in Seattle when he was an assistant coach with the Seahawks, but only this year did he deduce the source of the problem. Now he usually avoids wearing the type of shirts that cause the irritation.
``I'd be like, 'I've got that darn rash again.' 'Is it nerves? Whatever?''' Zorn said. ``And you finally put 2 and 2 together.''
STOP ME IF YOU CAN: Released by the Ravens in their final cuts, linebacker and special teams ace Gary Stills had lost none of his swagger after landing with the St. Louis Rams this week.
The 34-year-old Stills made the Pro Bowl in 2003 on special teams with the Chiefs and set a franchise record with 44 special teams tackles in 2006 with Baltimore, the second-highest total in league history.
Last year, he had 26 special teams stops because, he said, teams started double-teaming him.
``I feel I will take one guy and just take him where I want to go,'' Stills said. ``You've got to double me. Eighty percent of the time I'll beat a double-team. I know that's being cocky, but I'm confident.''
Stills expects to play in the opener at Philadelphia, too.
``Oh yeah, he said. ``We played the Rams a couple weeks ago and I studied them and got their technique down.''
AP Sports Writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis, Mike Cranston in Charlotte, Joseph White in Washington and Gregg Bell in Seattle contributed to this story.

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