Saints game 'can't come fast enough' for Panthers' Shockey

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jeremy Shockey doesn't plan to let a mild concussion keep him out of Sunday's game against New Orleans. Especially since he hasn't completely gotten over the Saints releasing him.

The four-time Pro Bowl tight end returned to practice Thursday for the Carolina Panthers and said he expects to play against his former team.

"This game can't come fast enough for me," said Shockey, who's also nursing a broken finger that he suffered during the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Shockey's status "looks very promising" for Sunday, but he added the tight end first needs to be cleared by an independent doctor.

Shockey spent the past three seasons with the Saints, helping them win the Super Bowl two seasons ago. But the team cut the 31-year-old after last season.

"I have a lot of respect for everyone in that organization, but that was first time I have ever been cut or released in my life, so I'm not going to sit here and say I don't have a bitter taste in my mouth about being pushed off to the side and being told, 'See you, good luck,' " Shockey said.

In a conference call earlier this week, Saints coach Sean Payton called Shockey one of his all-time favorite players and said he was instrumental in the development of current New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham.

"I'm a huge fan of his," Payton said of Shockey. "What you're seeing from Jimmy Graham are the same things we saw from Jeremy Shockey in his earlier years."

Shockey smirked when told Payton considered him one of his favorite players.

"If I was one of his favorite players, I might still be there," Shockey said.

Shockey has started all four games for the Panthers this season and boasts 11 receptions for 178 yards.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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