The Carolina Panthers' newest cornerbacks introduced themselves to quarterback Cam Newton during a team passing drill Thursday.
Veteran Drayton Florence ran under a deep throw to wideout Brandon LaFell to intercept Newton, and nickel back D.J. Moore nearly had a pick on Newton's next throw. Moore, who signed with Carolina after four years in Chicago, cut in front of recently acquired wideout Domenik Hixon and got his hands on Newton's pass, but couldn't hold on.
Many critics and fans shrugged when the Panthers signed Florence and Moore to one-year deals during the offseason, and wondered why the team didn't take a defensive back in the draft.
But Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes Florence, 32 and in his 11th season, and Moore, 26, can help the Panthers' trio of young corners - Josh Norman, Josh Thomas and James Dockery.
More than Florence's interception Thursday, Rivera was most excited about hearing Florence tell one of the young corners what route to look for based on a receiver's alignment.
"It was really good to watch Drayton and D.J. Moore come out there and do some nice things. They did make plays on the ball. You watch them and you see the veteran experience," Rivera said. "It's kind of neat to watch a veteran guy talk to a young player and use his experience."
Captain Munnerlyn, the Panthers' other veteran corner, is out with an abdominal strain.
Draft class signed: The Panthers have their five-player draft class under contract after signing fifth-round pick A.J. Klein, an Iowa State linebacker, and sixth-rounder Kenjon Barner, a running back from Oregon, on Thursday.
Defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, the first- and second-round picks respectively, and fourth-rounder Edmund Kugbila, agreed to terms Wednesday. Lotulelei's four-year deal is worth $9.6 million, including a $5.4 million signing bonus, according to a league source.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said he was "thrilled" to have all the picks signed.
Lotulelei, an All-American at Utah, worked with the first team at nose tackle Thursday alongside veteran defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. Short was part of the defensive tackle rotation with Colin Cole.
Kugbila, the 108th overall pick from Division II Valdosta State, is expected to challenge Geoff Hangartner at right guard.
"Star gives us an impactful three-down defensive lineman and Edmund has a lot of natural ability and upside that we will work to develop," Gettleman said in a release. "We look forward to seeing both players contribute."
Starters on the mend: Munnerlyn is one of several starters who are either out or limited for organized team activities. Running back Jonathan Stewart (offseason ankle surgery) rode the stationary bike, while offensive linemen Jordan Gross (ankle) and Ryan Kalil (foot) saw light action.
Linebacker Jon Beason, who is coming back from shoulder and knee surgeries, did not participate in team drills. But Beason stayed after practice and ran 20 50-yard sprints.
Receiver Lamont Bryant (hamstring) and tight end Brandon Williams (knee) were out.
Extra point: Norman made the play of the day, laying out for an interception on a Newton pass intended for Ted Ginn. Norman got the wind knocked out of him, but held on to the ball.
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