With three of the Panthers’ top four defensive tackles missing Tuesday for personal reasons, first-round draft pick Vernon Butler took extensive reps with the first-team defense.
Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short and free agent acquisition Paul Soliai all were excused from the voluntary session.
Soliai, who played the past two seasons with the Falcons, also missed the only OTA practice last week that was open to the media. But Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Soliai participated in the other sessions that week that were closed to the press.
Rivera said one benefit of the veteran absences was the increased workload for Butler, the former Louisiana Tech defensive tackle whom the Panthers drafted 30th overall.
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“This week we’ve got a couple inside guys that weren’t here on the defensive line and you got to see Vernon Butler really work today,” Rivera said. “It’s going to be good (practice) tape. I look forward to studying the tape to see how he does.”
Offensive lineman Chris Scott was the fourth absence from practice. He also had an excused absence, Rivera said.