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Panthers guard Bridges pleads not guilty to assault charge

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As Carolina Panthers guard Jeremy Bridges practiced with his teammates Monday, his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf for a misdemeanor assault charge.

Attorney George Laughrun said a trial date was set for Oct. 2.

Bridges was arrested in the early morning of July 26 -- a day before players reported to training camp -- and was charged with pointing a gun at a woman outside a strip club.

The Panthers later suspended Bridges for the first two games of the regular season for conduct detrimental to the team. He'll miss games against St. Louis and Houston.

Bridges could also face further disciplinary action under the NFL's new tougher conduct policy pending the outcome of the case.

Laughrun wouldn't discuss the details of the case. Bridges, who was not required to appear in court Monday, is free on $3,000 bond.

Bridges, who has not spoken to reporters since his arrest, declined another interview request Monday.

Setting the trial date for a Tuesday appears to be good timing for Bridges. Players are scheduled to be off on Oct. 2, which is two days after Carolina hosts Tampa Bay.

The 6-foot-4, 326-pound Bridges, who was expected to be the team's starting right guard, was demoted to the second team early in training camp in part due to the impending suspension. Rookie Ryan Kalil started at right guard in Carolina's 24-7 exhibition loss to New England on Friday.

Carolina signed Bridges last September after the season-ending injury to left tackle Travelle Wharton. Bridges, who had spent the previous two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, worked his way into the Panthers' starting lineup at right tackle last season.

With Wharton returning this season, Bridges moved to guard during May's minicamp.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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