Injured linebackers Thomas Davis and Jon Beason walked side by side on the paved path from the Panthers practice field to Bank of America Stadium on Monday afternoon.
The two defensive cogs hope to run out of the tunnel together at Raymond James Stadium for the Week 1 opener at Tampa Bay.
Davis took another step in his recovery Monday when trainers increased his workload for the 2-hour practice. Davis, trying to become the first player to come back from three ACL surgeries on the same knee, injured his calf on the second night of training camp and has slowly made progress since.
Coach Ron Rivera thought Davis looked good Monday and left open the possibility he could play in Sundays exhibition against the New York Jets.
Absolutely. If Thomas is feeling strong enough and we feel hes made a strong enough recovery, we feel that hell play, Rivera said. He looks good right now. The nice thing is hell have tomorrow off and well see him back here Wednesday.
The Panthers are off Tuesday before beginning their Jets preparations Wednesday.
Beason, sidelined with a hamstring issue, participated in the installation periods and walk-through Monday but is not as far along in his recovery as Davis. Beason ruptured his Achilles in Week 1 last season and had surgery the following week.
Beason said he hurt his hamstring overcompensating for his rebuilt Achilles, adding he would only play against the Jets if he is 100 percent.
Merriman not a fit: Rivera, who was on Norv Turners staff in San Diego before the Panthers hired him, has brought in a bunch of former Chargers during his first two seasons in Charlotte. But he said the Panthers are not interested in ex-San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman, released Monday by Buffalo.
Merriman, the defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005 and a three-time Pro Bowler, has missed at least 11 games in three of the past four seasons. Rivera said Merriman is best suited as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Shawnes really a 3-4 linebacker. And were predominantly a 4-3 defense, Rivera said. So I dont see anything there.
Holding steady: The winner of the Panthers punting competition also will serve as the holder. Rookie Brad Nortman and Nick Harris have alternated holding for Olindo Mare and Justin Medlock, whose left-footed kicks have forced them to adapt.
Its not something that I would want to take up the next day in a game, having a lefty all of a sudden. But now I know what Im doing, Harris said. Its kind of like writing with your left hand. So it took some adjustments and learning. Its gone well. And J.J. (Jansen), his snaps make it pretty easy to do that.
Harris actually worked with Medlock several years ago during the offseason in California. Medlock was a fifth-round pick of Kansas City in 2007, but was released after making 1-of-2 field goals in the Chiefs first game.
He started out with a little blip in Kansas City, and struggled a little bit. But he found his way in Canada, Harris said. I think he knows what hes doing now and looks really good.
• The Panthers are escaping Charlotte when the Democratic National Convention is here, although Rivera would fit in well in a political setting. He artfully dodged a question Tuesday about replacement officials, and declined to make his political views public.
• The DNC folks apparently have been treating the Panthers well. With all the comings and goings around the stadium, Rivera said the coaches are getting to park closer to the building for the next two weeks.
• Its looking more and more like the No. 3 receiver spot will be filled by committee. And with every passing day that David Gettis, who had ACL surgery last summer, remains on the sideline, Gettis looks like he might not be a part of that committee.