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Carolina Panthers: Roman Harper’s injury now called turf toe

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David T. Foster, III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina Panthers safety Roman Harper, shown during a camp practice in Spartanburg on Aug. 6, has found a toe injury to be a bigger-than-he-hoped hurdle.

Veteran Carolina Panthers strong safety Roman Harper has tried to keep a toe injury from turning into turf toe, but coach Ron Rivera said it eventually happened.

Harper, 31, signed with the Panthers this offseason as a free agent from New Orleans. He hasn’t practiced since Aug. 1. Before that, he had participated in less than a half-dozen camp practices after day veteran days off to protect his knees.

Rivera ruled Harper out for Sunday’s exhibition against the Kansas City Chiefs, but said the foot is getting stronger and that Harper could see the practice field this preseason.

“We have to be smart about it,” Rivera said. “He’s a veteran guy who’s picking things up and he’s staying engaged and involved. It’s really just a matter of time. Hopefully we’ll have a better feel for it come Monday.”

Free safety Thomas DeCoud has taken the majority of first-team reps, but he’s been unable to communicate much with Harper. The two have had to talk on the sidelines during practice to get their calls down.

“It’s a lot of mental reps and talking to each other after plays,” DeCoud said. “He’s been in the league 9-10 years so he’s seen a lot of football and he knows how it’s supposed to look and what it’s supposed to be like. I’ve played a lot of football myself, this is year seven for me, so we have a good feel for each other as people and as football players.”

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