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," Shockey said, who's also dealing with a broken finger he suffered in the season opener against Arizona.
Coach Ron Rivera said Shockey's status "looks very promising" for Sunday, but added Shockey 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 Saints 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 side and being told, 'See you, good luck,'" Shockey said.
In a conference call earlier in the week, Saints coach Sean Payton called Shockey one of his favorite players he's ever coached and said he was instrumental in the development of current Saints 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.
As for how he felt Thursday after taking a shot to his head while blocking on a field goal protection play Sunday, Shockey smiled and said, "My head has always been a little loopy."
All kidding aside, Shockey said he knows that the Panthers are doing what they feel is in his best interest for after football.
"I'm at the tail end of my career and I would rather walk away than crawl away," he said. "So I expect to play this game and I know the Saints expect me to play as well. ... I know we're in a hole right now as far as our record, and we need to do whatever it takes to get out of this hole."
As for his personal motivation to beat the Saints, Shockey said, "It's a business. I know that. I don't hold anything personnel -- well, not that long. But I do hold things personal."
Shockey has started all four games for the Panthers this season and has 11 receptions for 178 yards.
He had a 22-yard touchdown reception against the Bears last Sunday called back after he was flagged for offensive pass interference.
Payton said after watching the Panthers-Bears game on film this week said, "I'm still looking for the interference call on tape."
Shockey didn't want to rehash the play, but said he's still irritated that he never got an explanation from the league on why the touchdown was taken away.
"I guess I don't get paid enough money to get explanations," Shockey said. "But I pay enough to get fined every week, and it's petty things. When you ask for an explanation from the (league) front office and you don't get one that's discouraging and disheartening and disappointing."
Panthers starting offensive linemen Jeff Otah and Geoff Hangartner practiced full on Thursday after being held out of practice the day before with back injuries. Both are expected to start against the Saints, Rivera said. In other injury news, running back Mike Goodson sent home early with an illness and did not practice.