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Carolina Panthers minicamp observations

•  Offensive lineman Garry Williams returned to practice after being cleared by the medical staff. Williams, who tore his ACL in Week 1 of the 2013 season, sat out of team drills in OTAs.

•  Safety Roman Harper missed practice to be at home in New Orleans with his wife after she gave birth to their daughter. Robert Lester took first-team reps at strong safety in his place.

•  Receiver De’Andre Presley missed practice with shin splits. Linebacker Jason Williams misses with a knee injury.

•  Panthers coach Ron Rivera believed the offense had the upper hand to start practice, but the defense turned the table midway through practice with new blitz schemes coordinator Sean McDermott implemented.

•  Defensive end Charles Johnson batted down a pass from Derek Anderson behind the line of scrimmage after beating right tackle Nate Chandler.

•  Robert Lester picked off an Anderson pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery did a good job not giving the play away on the route, but Antoine Cason got a hand on the ball and tipped it in the air for Lester to intercept.

•  Philly Brown dropped a pass near the sideline on a pass from Anderson with Bene’ Benwikere in coverage, and later he bobbled and dropped a punt. He later made a sliding catch from Joe Webb with Norman in coverage.

•  Byron Bell took most of the first-team reps at left tackle after splitting them with Chandler during OTAs.

•  Receiver Brenton Bersin leapt high for a deep Matt Blanchard pass and hauled it in against cornerback Carrington Byndom.

•  After working on the side during OTAs, fullback Michael Zordich got a handful of carries Tuesday. He’s coming off a torn ACL suffered in the 2013 preseason.

•  Receiver Kealoha Pilares had the most exciting play of the day. On a short pass over the middle, Pilares shook right and went left against Benwikere, making the rookie fall to the ground.

•  Receiver Marvin McNutt short-armed a pass from Blanchard across the middle.

•  Guard Amini Silatolu looked “rusty” in team drills, Rivera said. He’s returning from an ACL injury from early in the 2013 season.

•  Cam Newton slapped hands with players in huddles despite not being the quarterback. He would go in the huddle and talk to each player before Anderson or Blanchard called out the play.

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