- Associated Press - Thursday, December 2, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - As the losses keep piling up for the NFL-worst Carolina Panthers, so do the odd stories and puzzling mysteries.

Thursday featured cornerback Chris Gamble finally ending his silence about leaving practice last week and then getting benched, more fallout from the monster fine given to safety Sherrod Martin, and an injury report so lengthy coach John Fox couldn’t read it on one breath.

Not the best of scenarios for the Panthers to end another five-game losing streak as they prepare for Sunday’s game at Seattle (5-6).

“We’re 1-10 and I wish it was the other way around,” Gamble said. “Things are really frustrating around here, but you’ve got to just keep grinding, keep moving on.”

The hard-to-figure story of Gamble’s missed practice and demotion finally includes a first-person account Thursday, moments after he missed practice with a sore hamstring he tweaked a day earlier. He was one of 12 players to be sidelined or limited.

Gamble indicated he left the stadium before practice Nov. 24 for a personal matter, not because of any dispute with coaches or teammates.

“I just had some personal issues I was going through,” Gamble said, declining to elaborate other than to say they involved his family. “I had to leave practice and I apologized to the team about it. Everything is good now.”

A day earlier, teammate Everette Brown said Gamble made an “out-of-mind decision” and “was disciplined for his actions.” Gamble would only say he was “frustrated” by personal issues that day.

“I felt like I let the team down for missing practice and I should have been there,” he said.

Gamble, in the middle of a six-year, $53 million contract, said the incident didn’t stem from being demoted. He said he wasn’t told he was being benched until Saturday, a day before Carolina’s 24-23 loss at Cleveland.

“I was upset, but he’s the man and I’ve got to deal with that,” Gamble said.

That man, Fox, appeared agitated at answering more questions about the issue Thursday.

“It was personal and that means exactly what it is,” Fox said of the missed practice. “The reason he didn’t start in the game last week was purely due to football. I think I said that once before.”

Gamble, the third-highest-paid player and the fourth longest-tenured on the team, believes his benching stemmed from a poor performance a week earlier when he was beaten on T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s 56-yard touchdown catch.

“I kind of struggled in the Baltimore game, so I kind of figured that’s where it came from,” Gamble said. “I just have to keep praying and playing football like I know how to do.”

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