Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is known for his patience and amiable nature, but on Sunday’s hot, muggy padded practice at Wofford, he lost it.
Rivera shouted an expletive and directed that backup linebacker Jeremy Cash be yanked from the field during team drills, after Cash laid a low hit on rookie running back and No. 8 overall pick Christian McCaffrey.
“We just have to be smart out there,” said the head coach after the two-hour session wrapped up.
▪ Left tackle Matt Kalil, who had been nursing a mild groin injury for the last few practices and had struggled in the humidity according to Rivera, was a full participant on Sunday.
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▪ Quarterback Cam Newton threw lightly on the side of the action with head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion, but did not throw in live drills. He did hand off the ball several times and once even lined up wide as a receiver with McCaffrey in the wildcat formation.
▪ Receiver Devin Funchess made several big catches and continues to have an excellent camp. Counterpart Kelvin Benjamin, who has been fairly quiet all of training camp so far, also made a big touchdown catch during team drills – though he was matched up one on one against the much-smaller nickel Captain Munnerlyn.
▪ Safety Dean Marlowe was not in attendance on Sunday after getting banged up during Friday’s FanFest practice in Charlotte. Rivera confirmed that Marlowe was injured but declined to specify when asked.
▪ Rookie receiver Curtis Samuel was again unable to practice on Sunday. The second-round draft pick has missed all but one camp practice with a hamstring injury. Veterans Julius Peppers and Thomas Davis took “vet days”, while defensive tackles Kyle Love (ankle) and Toby Johnson were still out with injuries. Rookie receiver Fred Ross was also unable to practice for a third day with an undisclosed injury.
▪ Two underdog standouts included receiver Kaelin Clay, who scored two touchdowns during practice, including one in which he caught the ball and then carried it through heavy traffic for a 30-yard score, and kicker Harrison Butker, who nailed his last kick despite Newton running up and screaming at him as he kicked.
▪ The secondary continued to make big plays. Veteran safety Mike Adams capitalized on a tipped pass by linebacker Luke Kuechly, and second-year corner James Bradberry had a pick-six on a Derek Anderson throw intended for receiver Russell Shepard.
▪ East Carolina undrafted free agent linebacker Zeek Bigger took down big tight end Chris Manhertz early in team drills. Bigger is one of a several linebackers fighting for spots behind Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, Davis and David Mayo.
▪ Rivera did confirm that rookie draft pick corner Corn Elder, who has a stress fracture in his patella, would miss an extended period of time but declined to answer whether Elder would miss preseason games.
▪ Corner Zack Sanchez was back in action after missing some time last week with an undisclosed injury. He appears to be competing with rookie undrafted free agent Cole Luke as the depth at the position.