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Friday, August 11, 2006

Rookie Safety Shows Smarts


Fourth-round draft choice Nate Salley should get the start at safety on Saturday in the preseason opener.

Charlotte Observer Photo by Jeff Siner


STAN OLSON, The Charlotte Observer

August 11, 2006

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The word that keeps coming up when you ask Carolina Panthers coaches about rookie safety Nate Salley is "smart." He's picking up the Panthers' defensive schemes quickly, they tell you, and this week he's even been playing with the first team.

That's unlikely to last; veteran starters Mike Minter and Colin Branch are both out currently.

Still, Salley, the team's fourth-round draft pick, is getting noticed.

"He's very smart, he's picked things up very well," Carolina defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac said. "He's doing a nice job of picking it up; we like his intensity, the way he studies, and we'll see in the games."

That starts Saturday night against Buffalo at Bank of America Stadium, when Salley is likely to be in the starting lineup for the exhibition. If that's something of a surprise, his intelligence shouldn't be.

Salley is the youngest of three siblings, the first to attend college.

The first, in fact, to graduate from high school, he said recently during a break between practices.

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