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Silatolu, if healthy, will start at left guard Sunday for Carolina Panthers

Panthers left guard Amini Silatolu is a man of few words and didn’t offer many Monday when talking about his injured right hamstring.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera was decidedly more optimistic about Silatolu’s status for Sunday’s opener against Seattle than he was last week when he indicated Silatolu likely would be out.

“I don’t feel that way anymore, especially after seeing him (Monday),” Rivera said. “A lot depends on if he comes back (Tuesday) and he’s tender and his lower back is sore, then you’ll know the hamstring is still bothering him.”

Silatolu, who started 15 games last season as a rookie, said he did only individual work Monday and did not participate in team drills. He was injured against Baltimore two weeks ago and missed last week’s exhibition finale against Pittsburgh.

If Silatolu doesn’t play against the Seahawks, Rivera said it would be “left guard by committee,” with recently acquired Travelle Wharton and Chris Scott sharing reps.

The situation at right guard is clearer. Garry Williams, who took over after the Panthers cut Geoff Hangartner in the first week of training camp, remains the starter.

“The comp, it’s there. They’re pushing me. It’s making me work harder,” Williams said. “That’s the best thing about competition, it makes you go harder. I’m still fighting. I’m still working hard and right now I’m the guy.”

Hot Corner: Two days after veteran cornerback Drayton Florence was released, Rivera said the move was made to give young corners Josh Norman and Josh Thomas more chances.

“Drayton had a good camp, obviously. We felt strong about him. But we have a group of young guys, as well,” Rivera said. “Looking at the now, but also looking at the long term for this team, we wanted to do what was the best thing. We have a few young guys that really need opportunities to get on the football field.”

Rivera would not say which corner would start opposite Captain Munnerlyn but said Thomas and Norman have different skill sets.

“Josh Thomas is a more compact, physical player. Josh Norman’s a little more long, rangy. He has good poise,” he said. “So they’re different. What you would love to do is have those two young guys develop into full-time starters.”

Seattle ready: Guard/center Jeff Byers and tight end Ben Hartsock returned to practice, and each said he has no doubts in his availability come Sunday.

Byers banged his knee on the first day of training camp but played through it until sitting out the final exhibition Thursday.

Hartsock dealt with plantar fasciitis for the past two weeks and wore a boot as a precaution. He said Monday he suffered no setbacks at practice and expects to play Sunday as the No. 2 tight end.

Squad spot: Rivera said he expects the Panthers will fill their open practice squad spot this week but indicated adding another quarterback might not be the top priority.

Derek Anderson is Carolina’s scout team quarterback, and though the team has two quarterbacks, there doesn’t seem to be a rush to add another.

“It’s one of the things we talked about, but there’s some other positions in need as well,” Rivera said. “We’re going to sit down and talk about it because again when you practice and you’ve got the practice squad players, you’ve got to get those guys out on the field doing different things and taking some of the practice reps off other guys.”

The Panthers signed seven to their practice squad Sunday but did not sign an offensive lineman or a cornerback. Running back Tauren Poole, receivers James Shaw and Brenton Bersin, linebacker Ben Jacobs, safety Robert Lester, defensive tackle Casey Walker and defensive end Craig Roh comprise the practice squad.

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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