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Dockett Hurting But Thankful

Notebook: Lineman returns to limited work with Hayes; Boldin still out


Darnell Dockett closes in on the hit that sent Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme out of Sunday's game.
His ankle is sore and so is his neck, but Darnell Dockett was emphatic – he's not about to complain. Not when he sees guys like the Bengals' Antwan Odom.

Odom was the NFL's sack leader with eight in six games before tearing his Achilles' tendon, ending his season.

"I have a different outlook on life and football this year," Dockett said. "I look at (Odom) … so I'm not going to sit back and say my situation is worse. I am going to be thankful. I've got a sore neck, a sore ankle, but you know what? I know for a fact on Sunday I will be ready.

"That is something (Odom) can't do. I am thankful for a lot of little things. And my team, we're winning right now and we're going to bounce back. That's one thing I know for sure about my team, we will bounce back. We respond well after getting our (butt) whipped."

Dockett did lament the frequency of being double-teamed – he said it was more than half the time – but added that it was opening up opportunities for teammates like end Calais Campbell. While Dockett's sack numbers aren't strong with just one thus far, he already has nine tackles-for-loss, better than any other year in his career aside from the 11 he had as a rookie in 2004. Dockett had just one tackle-for-loss last season.

More importantly, Dockett wants to be there for his team. He's started 72 straight games and 86 of 87. He hasn't missed a game since arriving in the NFL.

There will be payback from his body, and Dockett knows it. Ask him about if he thinks about how he will be in 20 years, Dockett said "Hell yeah," before adding, "Twenty years? I think about it the following week."

"I know for a fact I am going to be struggling later on down the road," Dockett added. "But it's funny. I can be so beat up on Wednesday and Thursday and I push through practice but on Sunday, it's like 'My team needs me. They need that force.' And I just hit a switch and go play."


Coach Ken Whisenhunt didn't sound worried that either Dockett or linebacker Gerald Hayes (back) would be in danger of not playing Sunday, after both returned to limited work Thursday. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin (ankle) was the only player that didn't practice.

If Hayes can't go, he would be replaced by Ali Highsmith, who doesn't have a ton of size – he is listed at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds – but has shown Whisenhunt enough otherwise.

"Obviously we don't have any prejudice against (small stature)," Whisenhunt said, noting guys like Michael Adams and LaRod Stephens-Howling on the roster. "Look at (the career of 5-11 linebacker) London Fletcher. What we look at is how he plays the game."

The other limited players Thursday were safety Antrel Rolle (ankle), receiver Steve Breaston (knee), defensive end Kenny Iwebema (knee) and receiver Sean Morey (illness), but all are expected to be available Sunday.


Tight end Stephen Spach (ankle) looks rusty, Whisenhunt said, but he will be healthy enough to be available Sunday, if Whisenhunt decides to inactivate either Anthony Becht or Ben Patrick. Whisenhunt acknowledged it may be more difficult going forward to keep four tight ends on the active roster (the other is Dominique Byrd) but he does consider them potential backups at fullback, since Dan Kreider is the only fullback on the roster.

"It is difficult to carry four tight ends," Whisenhunt said. "You are always juggling those types of personnel decisions. … I like the guys we have there and after last year, when we had a rash of injuries at that position, it makes you think."


In a correction from the game Sunday, a sack that was halved between Campbell and linebacker Chike Okeafor has now been fully credited to Okeafor. That means Okeafor, Campbell and linebacker Bertrand Berry are all now tied for the team lead with three sacks this season.

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