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Panthers near full strength...finally

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Thu. October 1, 2009 | Joey Knight | Email

For the first time this season, Plant appears close to full strength -- and not a game too early.

A day before his team's touted showdown at Armwood, Plant coach Bob Weiner said the Panthers "pretty much have rounded back into shape" after navigating a series of injuries to key players in September.

Every prominent player who missed the season-opening loss to Tampa Bay Tech -- among them quarterback Phillip Ely (back), safety Eric Dungy (hip) and defensive lineman Joe Pappas (back) -- is back.

Pappas will be making his season debut Friday. Ely, held to a "pitch count" in his first action of the season last week at Riverview, took 17 snaps and completed six of 10 passes. Weiner said his hope is for Ely, who led the Panthers to a 17-14 playoff win against Armwood last season, to go the distance.

"He got his feet splashing in the water a little bit last week (at Riverview)," Weiner said. "But when you play Armwood you're jumping in the ocean."

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