The Panthers put the pads on for the first time today. After yesterday's big media day, where Newton described trying to stop him from running was like trying to stop a lion from roaring and Thomas Davis reminded that his business took place on the field, not in the front office, the guys were surely ready to get the pads on and let out a little aggression.
Most excitingly, Cam seems to be throwing without any ill-effects and the Panthers don't appear to be treating him with kid gloves, which tells us that his rehab is progressing nicely.
Curtis Samuel, Corn Elder, and Captain Munnerlyn have been sidelined with injuries. Elder, who isn't elderly, is ironically dealing with tendinitis in his knee and Munnerlyn tweaked a hamstring running with a trainer. Munnerlyn is a critical piece of Carolina's defense, so they are being especially cautious with him. Curtis Samuel's hamstring injury, while no reports have indicated it is all that serious, could be something to keep an eye on. There are high hopes for Samuel to add a little something special to the Panthers offense, but the transition to the NFL is a difficult one for rookies and he needs all the reps he can get. In 2015, 2nd round pick Devin Funchess injured his hamstring in training camp and it was a clear setback to an offense that desperately needed him to be better...that still does.
Matt Kalil squared up against Mario Addison today and held his own. As Ryan Kalil cheered his brother on from the sideline many of saw reports of Mike Remmers struggling in Minnesota. It's just one play on one day, but we'll take it for now. Speaking of plays on days, today was Funchess's 3rd practice of his third year and all we heard from him was that Shaq Thompson punched the ball out from him on a passing play. Max Henson proclaimed Shaq as today's player of the day.
James Bradberry continues to impress. He had a cast on that hand he injured in OTAs, but it didn't stop him from making some big plays throughout the day. He contested catches against Benjamin, who had two drops on the day. Bradberry did say the Benjamin was noticeably faster and slimmer than he was in OTAs. Bradberry's success is really critical to this secondary, so it's nice to see him settling into a leading defensive role on the team.
Christian McCaffrey and Daeshon Hall made a little noise today. McCaffrey showed off a little of h is footwork on Thomas Davis in the open field on a screen pass and Daeshon Hall showed off a little speed rush against another rookie, Taylor Moton.
Today's practice was the most intense and featured the first camp fight Dan France and Dezmond Southward, leaving us all asking...who?? There was also a big collision between Damiere Byrd and LJ McCray. McCray was slow to get up but Byrd seemed OK, although he later dropped a punt.
By far the greatest story of the day was Coach Rivera calling Greg Olsen to match up one on one against Julius Peppers in an Oklahoma drill. Olsen conveniently had a wardrobe malfunction, joking his chin strap was broke. It's crazy the level of fear and just sheer ability that Peppers still has at 37 years old.
While we're all excited about McCaffrey and concerned about Curtis Samuel, the real story of today's practice wasn't the rookies, it some of those guys who weren't rookies long ago stepping into larger roles on the team. Shaq Thompson continues to be a force. James Bradberry only looks to be getting better, Vernon Butler is getting time with the 1s and batted a pass that led to an interception, and all eyes are still wondering why Benjamin and Funchess aren't larger forces to be reckoned with.
By Tony Dunn
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