The Carolina Panthers longest-tenured player had the weekend off.
Steve Smith, the Pro Bowl wide receiver entering his 12th season, was given a break Sunday when the Panthers returned to the practice field following Fridays 23-17 exhibition victory against Miami. Smith was not required to attend Sundays shoulder pads-and-shorts practice.
Just a rest day, coach Ron Rivera said. He had a sore foot. So we just figured, You know what, its close to his day off time. Let him get his rest. Hes a savvy veteran.
Smith was among several veterans who received days off during the teams training camp in Spartanburg.
The Panthers received good news on the injury front with three starters. Center Ryan Kalil (foot), running back Jonathan Stewart (calf) and offensive tackle Byron Bell (hand) all practiced after leaving Fridays game early.
Stewart was taken to the locker room shortly after catching a 1-yard pass from Cam Newton in the flat.
That was probably the best news of all, Rivera said of Stewarts status. He kind of tweaked it when he popped up (after the catch).
Backup linebacker and special teams player Kenny Onatolu is doubtful for the Aug. 26 exhibition against the New York Jets with a hamstring injury. Jason Williams, another linebacker/special teams contributor, is day-to-day with a hyper-extended elbow.
Front and center: The San Diego-to-Charlotte pipeline remains open. Center Scott Mruczkowski, who was signed Saturday, is the seventh Panthers player with ties to San Diego, where Rivera and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski coached before coming to Charlotte.
Rivera said the Panthers were looking to add depth at center behind Kalil. Mruczkowski, a fifth-round draft pick in 2005, appeared in 83 regular-season games and six postseason games in seven seasons with the Chargers, including 16 starts.
This is a guy that was with us in San Diego that Chud knows well, I know well. Smart football player (who) understands this offense, understands protections and understands defenses, Rivera said. Were looking for someone who can come in and possibly be a security blanket.
Norwood back: Defensive end Eric Norwood returned to practice after missing a week with a sprained knee ligament. Norwood, in his third season out of South Carolina, expects to play against the Jets.
With the injuries to Onatolu and Williams, Norwood hopes he can gain traction on special teams.
We had some guys go down, some guys have to step up. Some guys coming off an injury, some guys going on injury report, Norwood said. It is a big week, and Im looking forward to making the best of it.
Norwood, the Gamecocks career sack leader, was drafted in the fourth round in 2010. But he has yet to make an impact as an NFL pass-rusher and is on the bubble for a roster spot.
Honestly, thats every year. Thats something I dont even worry about, Norwood said. I just go out, let my play speak for itself. I control what I can control.
• Middle linebacker Jon Beason (hamstring) was among those who did not practice. Beason said last week he wouldnt play against the Jets unless he was 100 percent, and was shooting for the regular-season opener at Tampa Bay. Cornerback Brandon Hogan (knee) and receiver David Gettis (knee) remain out.
• The Panthers are installing plays and schemes on both sides of the ball early this week before beginning their preparations for the Jets on Wednesday.
• Equipment manager Jackie Miles broke out the black practice jerseys for the first time. They were worn by the offensive players.