Panthers have a French connection in camp

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- "Un! Deux! Trois! ... Panteres!"

With what sounded like a line from the fictional French character Jean Girard in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," the Carolina Panthers began practice on Monday.

Only the accent came from French Canadian offensive tackle David Foucault -- pronounced Da-VEED FOO-koh -- an undrafted rookie who was signed after being invited to a two-day tryout in May.

Coach Ron Rivera asked Foucault to break down the team in an attempt to recognize a player who has worked and competed hard. Rivera even correctly pronounced the first name of the 6-foot-8, 305-pounder, known by many simply as "The Canadian."

"If you are French, it's Da-VEED," the coach explained.

Not all of the players are as sharp as Rivera when it comes to a second language.

"I don't know what he said, but it was great," cornerback Charles Godfrey said of Foucault's rendition of "One, two, three . . . Panthers."

Those that weren't confused were laughing.

"I think only half the team knew," Foucault said. "I have a little accent."

It works both ways. Foucault, who actually speaks English quite well, often has trouble understanding some of his teammates.

"The guys from the South, from Texas, they talk really fast," Foucault said with his infectious smile.

The former University of Montreal standout has done quite well picking up the accent of starting quarterback Cam Newton, born and raised in Atlanta.

"Cam is OK," Foucault said. "He's from the South, too, but easier to understand. If I don't, I say, 'Hey, repeat slowly.' "

Foucault doesn't spend a lot of time working with Newton and the first team, but he spent all of Monday working with the second team at left tackle. He's progressed further than many thought possible in May, but because he moves so well for a man so large he's got a chance to make the final roster.

"A big step from my college at Montreal to NFL," he admitted.

The language barrier sometimes makes it comical -- interesting at best.

"I search a little bit for my words, but it's OK," Foucault said. "They call me Frenchy. It's OK, because I'm very Frenchy. I make some jokes with that, too."

Foucault won't be the only Canadian player on the field when the Panthers face Kansas City on Sunday night. Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (6-5, 315) of McGill University was a sixth-round pick for the Chiefs.

When jokingly asked if Carolina needed to play the Canadian National Athem "O Canada" prior to kickoff, Foucault said, "Oh, no, no, no. I've got my visa. I can work here as a rookie a little bit."