Carolina Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble said Thursday evening he missed last week’s (Wednesday) practice due to being frustrated over personal reasons with his family.
Panthers coach John Fox benched Gamble for the 24-23 loss against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Gamble, who played almost 30 plays in the defeat, didn’t find out until the day before the game he wasn’t going to start.
He apologized to his teammates for missing last week’s practice because he felt that he let the team down by leaving, but he maintained “everything is well now.” Gamble did say he should have been at practice, but he would not get specific with what he was experiencing.
Gamble’s explanation runs opposite of what defensive end Everette Brown said after Wednesday’s practice. The second-year pro called Gambles’ actions “out-of-mind decision,” but Brown said the team doesn’t look at Gamble like a quitter.
Brown did not notice Gamble wasn’t at practice until about midway through the session. But Brown notes that when Gamble apologized for leaving practice it was the end of the situation.
Gamble admitted to apologizing, but he denied it was an “out-of-mind decision” or there were other stories to his leaving practice. Gamble said he doesn’t know why any of his teammates would say his reasons for leaving practice where anything but personal.
More importantly, Gamble, 27, has struggled this season with 35 tackles and no picks. Two years ago, he became the third-highest paid player on the team after signing a six-year contract extension worth $53 million.
On a team that cut payroll during offseason. Gamble was one of the few high-priced veterans the Panthers kept. He was expected to be a big contributor this season, but he hasn’t come close to playing at the level the 1-10 Panthers need.
However, Gamble has had a good career in Carolina. The Ohio State product is just one interception away from tying Eric Davis for the most picks in Panthers’ history. But Gamble hasn’t had a pick since Week 14 of last season against the New England Patriots.
In spite of his struggles, he didn’t take the benching lightly.
“I was upset,” he said. “He (Fox) is the man. I have to deal with that. I’m not a player who tries to be all rowdy because my coach benched me. I just have to learn from that and keep going.”
Gamble maintains missing practice had nothing to do with not starting. His replacement Captain Munnerlyn, who returned a pick for a 37-yard touchdown against the Browns, said Wednesday that he found out he was going to start last Friday.
“He (Fox) told me that Saturday… that I was going to come in at nickel,” Gamble said. “I understood the situation. I just had to go about what he said. He is the head man and that is what I did.”
Gamble points to his struggles in the 37-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens for his demotion. In the game that was two weeks ago, he was burned for a 56-yard touchdown on the Ravens’ second play of the game. And he was benched in the second quarter.
He believes the solution to his problem is continuing to pray about his situation and have fun playing. Despite losing his starting position, Gamble maintains a good attitude and said it has not effect his confidence. Gamble takes responsibility for his play.
“Just keep grinding hard and just keep focusing and just keep going,” he said. “Overall, it is just a frustrating season. We are 1-10. I wish it was the other way around, but things are real frustrating right now. Just have to keep grinding.”
Fox added he didn’t see Gamble acting poorly due to getting benched. And Fox declined to say if Gamble or Munnerlyn would start against the Seattle Seahawks at 4:15 p.m. Sunday at Quest Field. When asked about Gamble walking out of a meeting or practice, Fox repeated what he said the day before.
“It was personal,” Fox said. “That means exactly what it is. And the reason he didn’t start in the game last week (was) purely due to football. I think I said that once before.”