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Notebook: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers, Sunday 1 p.m. (Fox, WJZY)

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DeAngelo Williams ready and pleased with direction Panthers’ offense is heading

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Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Running back DeAngelo Williams may be 30 years old, but splitting carries through most of his career has kept him fresh.

DeAngelo Williams doesn’t feel 30, and for the immediate future of the Carolina Panthers, that’s a very good thing.

Williams, the franchise’s leading rusher, is prepared to get the bulk of the carries Sunday against Seattle with fellow running back Jonathan Stewart out for the first six weeks of the season and fullback Mike Tolbert a game-time decision.

“He finished strong last year and I was very happy for him because he really works hard,” coach Ron Rivera said. “He does things the right way and we try to make sure we monitor his snaps during training camps. He got a couple of vet days. We limited his carries during the preseason games, as well.”

Williams has spent most of his career splitting carries with Stewart and DeShaun Foster, so he doesn’t have the mileage that most 30-year-old backs normally would.

“I don’t know about other backs reaching 30 (and being) where I’m at right now as far as splitting carries throughout your career,” Williams said. “I know I don’t have as much wear and tear as a 30-year-old back that played seven, eight, nine years at that position and took the (brunt) of the force.”

Rivera said if the offense can emulate what it did with Williams toward the end of last season – he finished the year with six straight games with double-digit carries compared to four in the previous 10 games – the team should be OK.

The second half of the season saw the Panthers use fewer zone-read plays and more traditional runs. It was for some of the “cute” plays and under-utilization of fullback Mike Tolbert that wide receiver Steve Smith called out former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski this week.

Smith said the Panthers’ offense struggled at times while Chudzinski was “positioning himself to apply” for a head coaching job he ultimately won in Cleveland.

“I feel like Chud is in Cleveland, and we’re going to keep it that way,” said Williams, who added he’s bought into what new offensive coordinator Mike Shula is doing. “Those are my comments about Chud. I no longer have to deal with that. He’s somebody else’s problem or solution.”

Line moves: With Amini Silatolu’s availability for Sunday “a long shot,” Rivera reiterated it will be “guard by committee” at left guard.

Travelle Wharton, the 10th-year player who spent his first eight years with Carolina, and Chris Scott, acquired during training camp, will rotate at the position, though the staff has not decided who will get the start.

“He’s done a lot of good things for us and he’s a little bit of a find for us,” Rivera said of Scott. “He was a guy who was let go initially when Buffalo was coming to camp and we saw an opportunity with the young man and he’s done a nice job fitting in as far as playing left guard or right guard.”

Scott said the communication among himself, left tackle Jordan Gross and center Ryan Kalil is coming along well this week.

“They’ve been doing it for a long time,” Scott said. “They already know the calls and I just fall into it so I’m good.”

Injury update: Strong safety Mike Mitchell suffered a setback with his calf injury and did not participate in practice Thursday.

Rivera did not indicate if the setback signals a starting position for recently acquired Quintin Mikell, but Rivera has liked what he’s seen from the former Pro Bowler.

“He’s a smart guy, very savvy, he’s been in a system like this so we expect him to do things the right way and he does,” Rivera said.

Weakside linebacker Jon Beason returned to practice after taking a veteran’s day off Wednesday. Rivera said he expects Beason to play 25-35 snaps Sunday and will only be in the base 4-3 defensive packages.

Starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards did not participate in practice after his hamstring tightened up. Rivera said it was too early to speculate Edwards’ status for the game.

Tickets available: The Seahawks returned 200 tickets for Sunday’s game, which are available through the Panthers’ ticket office or the team’s web site. Sunday will mark the Panthers’ 106th consecutive home sellout.

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9
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