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Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. Sunday, WJZY

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Carolina Panthers coach sticking with cornerback Josh Thomas in Week 2

When Panthers fans last saw cornerback Josh Thomas, he was getting beaten on Russell Wilson’s game-winning touchdown pass in Seattle’s 12-7 Week 1 victory.

And Sunday at Buffalo they’ll see Thomas again with the rest of the Panthers’ starting defense.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera is sticking with Thomas, despite his coverage breakdown on Wilson’s 43-yard toss to Jermaine Kearse with 10:13 remaining last weekend.

“It was one play,” Rivera said Friday. “He could’ve helped himself out a little bit. We could’ve helped him out a little bit more, too. It’s one play. Hopefully it doesn’t become two.”

Actually, it was two. Kearse’s touchdown came a play after Stephen Williams got behind Thomas on the same go route, although Williams couldn’t hang on to Wilson’s pass.

Thomas has held the starting job since Week 14 last year when he replaced Josh Norman, who had an NFL-high four interceptions during this year’s preseason. Thomas had five solo tackles against the Seahawks but let a Seattle punt hit him that the Seahawks recovered.

“We’ve got confidence in (Thomas). We’re showing we have confidence in him,” Rivera said. “But at the same time, we also have to be smart about it. We’ve got to pay attention to what’s happening. We’ve got a couple other young guys that could help us, as well.”

INJURY REPORT: The Panthers will go to Buffalo in good shape from an injury standpoint, with every starter expected to play.

The only players who have been ruled out are rookie running back Kenjon Barner (foot) and reserve cornerback James Dockery (thumb). Everyone else is listed as probable, including two starters who missed the Seattle game – left guard Amini Silatolu (hamstring) and strong safety Mike Mitchell (calf).

Rivera said Silatolu would start but would share reps with Travelle Wharton. Chris Scott, who was cut by Buffalo in July after failing the Bills’ conditioning test, will start at right guard.

Rivera did not name a starter at strong safety, saying Mitchell and Quntin Mikell would both play.

Outside linebacker Jon Beason, coming off microfracture surgery on his right knee last year, again will be limited to between 25 and 35 snaps.

“There’s going to be a point where we hope to get 50 out of him,” Rivera said. “But right now we’ll take what we get. As long as it’s healthy snaps, I’m excited for him.”

BANGED-UP BILLS SECONDARY: Buffalo will be without one starter in the secondary and could be missing two.

Free safety Jairus Byrd, who missed last week’s opener against New England with plantar fasciitis in his feet, is doubtful. Starting cornerback and Rock Hill native Stephon Gilmore is out with a fractured wrist.

Da’Norris Searcy replaced Byrd against the Patriots and returned a fumble 74 yards for a touchdown in the Bills’ 23-21 loss. Rivera said the Bills have a physical secondary that plays a lot of man coverage, but they would miss Byrd.

“I’m not sure if he’ll play, but he’s an All-Pro for a reason. With him on the sidelines things are different,” Rivera said. “But they’re fighting, they’re competing and again, it’s like us. If things are happening good up front, it’s going to help the secondary.”

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