Remember summer school? When most of the class was out goofing off, swimming, or raiding their parents' liquor cabinets? Well, a few sad students were stuck writing book reports on The Mists of Avalon or conquering right triangles.
But who were those students for the most part? The ones that needed that credit.
Julius Peppers, the unhappy star defensive end of the Carolina Panthers, has made no bones about his disgruntled status, and he is nowhere to be found at the Panthers' OTAs, appropriately dubbed "Summer School" by the organization.
But, much like the straight-A students from high school, Peppers is in no need of a refresher course.
Though he is no more important to the Panthers' success than Steve Smith, the running back duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, or Jake Delhomme—all of whom are present and accounted for in Charlotte—and even with an almost entirely new defensive coaching staff, Peppers' absence is far from a season-dooming incident.
Training camp will be more than enough time for Peppers to get back into the flow of things and settle into Ron Meeks' defensive scheme.
And all signs point to the Panthers' franchise player being in Spartanburg, S.C., come time for preseason practices.
Maybe if the former Tar Heel football and basketball star had gotten his way and a 3-4 scheme were being implemented in Charlotte, a tutorial this summer would be advisable in place of a summer of relaxation. But if that were the case, there is little doubt Peppers would have taken part in the activities.
Even in Peppers' absence, neither his coaches nor his teammates seem too worried about his development.
New Panther defensive end and second-round draft pick, Everette Brown, seems to have very little apprehension about Peppers' conspicuous absence. In fact, he hardly addressed it Monday, speaking mostly about the opportunity to play with the four-time Pro Bowler.
"I think that it will pick up the intensity knowing that you have that caliber of a player on the opposite side," Brown said to NFL.com. "It’s definitely going to be one of those meet and greets at the quarterback."
Even coach John Fox brushed aside Peppers' no-show, simply calling him a "steady performer."
Suffice it to say that Fox, Meeks & Co. are not playing the role of Ben Stein stubbornly repeating the name of an obviously absent student (Bueller...Bueller...Bueller), waiting for Matthew Broderick to bolster, "HERE!" but rather are running full steam ahead and preparing for the start of a likely full-rostered training camp come July, when the honor roll kids all but assuredly show up.
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