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Panthers players reportedly testify before grand jury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Todd Sauerbrun, who is reportedly
cooperating with investigators in a steroids probe, will not attend
Carolina's mini-camp this weekend because the Panthers want to
evaluate other punters.

"We know what Todd can do and we want to look at the guys we
have here," general manger Marty Hurney said Thursday, referring
to offseason signees Steve Cheek and Tom Rouen.

Hurney said the decision is not related to the CBS report that
identifies Sauerbrun as one of three Panthers who obtained illegal
steroid prescriptions from South Carolina alternative medicine
doctor James Shortt.

Several Panthers players testified this week before a federal
grand jury about Shortt, The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C.,
reported in Thursday editions, citing anonymous sources familiar
with the probe.

The report did not name the players involved, but said Sauerbrun
was not one of them because he is cooperating with investigators.
Hurney said the Panthers had no information about the testimony.

Offensive linemen Jeff Mitchell and Todd Steussie, who is now
with Tampa Bay, were the other two players named in the CBS report.
A lawyer for Steussie said his client is also cooperating with
investigators.

"He has not been asked to appear before the grand jury, but
will if asked," J. Pete Strom told the newspaper, adding that the
athletes are not a target of the investigation of Shortt.

Calls Thursday by The Associated Press to the offices of Shortt
and his attorney, Ward Bradley, were not immediately returned.

Nancy Wicker, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in
Columbia, cited federal rules in saying she could neither confirm
nor deny the existence of a grand jury.

The State reported that the grand jury is hearing testimony on
whether Shortt illegally prescribed steroids and other
performance-enhancing drugs to current and former Panthers, as well
as to bodybuilders.

Strom said NFL investigators have visited Columbia this week,
trying to determine whether the league's drug rules were violated.

Shortt's medical license was suspended April 14 after the South
Carolina Board of Medical Examiners found he prescribed the steroid
testosterone to four unidentified patients in doses that were
"extremely unlikely to have been prescribed with any legitimate
medical justification."

Sauerbrun, considered the NFL's best punter, was charged with
drunken driving late last year, capping a season in which he
refused to fill in for kicker John Kasay unless the team refunded
money it had fined him for being overweight.

Hurney has acknowledged the team was trying to trade Sauerbrun
even before the Panthers became aware of the report that he was
involved in an investigation of Shortt.