Chris Weinke Making Strides In Training Camp
Aug 6, 2001
By JENNA FRYER
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - Lacking even the slightest bit of nervousness, Chris Weinke barked plays and ran the offense like a seasoned veteran. In just his third week of training camp, the Carolina quarterback has yet to resemble a rookie.
Yet Weinke is a rookie, just hardly the average rookie. At 29 years old, he's the oldest quarterback on the Panthers.
And with six years of minor league baseball on his resume, he's savvy enough to participate in the negotiations on his incentive-laden contract that could ultimately pay him as much as $20 million over the next five years.
Add in the experience he got while leading Florida State to a national championship in 1999 and winning the Heisman Trophy in 2000, and Carolina has a confident, mature player.
"There's no stammering or stuttering in the huddle, when he gets in there he means business," said quarterbacks coach Turk Schonert. "He's been around pro athletes, he's gotten his big signing bonus and he's made a lot of money. He's here to compete."
Weinke, picked by the Panthers in the fourth round of the draft, is already competing for playing time. He reported to camp with the task of battling Dameyune Craig and Matt Lytle to back up starter Jeff Lewis.
Although coach George Seifert won't say who is leading that race, Weinke typically works with the second-team offense. When Lewis sat out practice last Saturday with a sore throwing shoulder, Weinke worked with the first team.
By his own admission, he thinks he's far away from challenging Lewis for the starting job.
"He's obviously been around and knows the system much better than I do," Weinke said. "That's the type of thing I'm not worried about right now. I need to get into a comfort zone where I feel comfortable running each and every play in this offense. That's my main concern."
His goal is to get there before Friday night, when the Panthers play the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason opener. Seifert has yet to set a rotation, but Weinke is sure to get plenty of playing time.
"A preseason game is an indication of what you know and what you've learned," he said. "I'm looking forward to that opportunity to show what I have learned."
Ideally, Weinke would like to turn a few heads by showing how much of the playbook he's already picked up.
Just like most rookies, that's been the hardest part of adjusting to the NFL for him. But because the Seminoles ran a similar pass-oriented offense to Carolina's, he feels it's been a little easier for him.
"At this level, there's a lot more movement and a lot more formations and that's what I'm still getting used to," he said. "But in terms of what we do, concept-wise, it's the same thing. So because I came from Florida State's system, it's made it easier to catch on."
Weinke still has work to do, which Seifert recognizes during every practice.
"He still has an awful lot going on in his head and it shows," Seifert
said. "But I feel as far as the prospects for the future, I feel good about