For the second straight day at Carolina Panthers training camp, linebacker Shaq Thompson made an incredible interception.
Tuesday, it was a one-handed pick of a Cam Newton pass at the goal line and left the defensive linemen yelling “Shaq been doing jumps in the gym!!! I see you!!”
On the play, Thompson reached up, snagged the ball and quickly chugged the other way.
As a joke, backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert — who wasn’t involved in the play — gave chase and pretended to try to tackle Thompson and not let him go for what would have otherwise been a 100-yard pick-six.
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Said Thompson of the play: “It was just reading the quarterback. Cam kept looking my way and I kept going with him. Right he threw it, I was right in the lane, and I jumped, caught it and brought it back.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, a former NFL linebacker himself, appreciated the degree of difficulty of Thompson’s play and said it reminded him of a play when he was with the Chicago Bears in the 1980s.
“I told Shaq the last time I saw a play like that in practice was when (linebacker) Wilber Marshall did that to (quarterback) Jim McMahon,” Rivera said. “It was a heck of a play down in the red zone. Wilber went up, made a great one-handed catch, too, and took off running.
“Shaq did the same thing. Shaq’s got that kind of ability. That’s what’s exciting to see, a young man starting to put the pieces together.”
The play ended a practice with a pretty laid-back vibe, in shorts and helmets on installation day for Thursday’s game in Buffalo against the Bills.
Other things we saw:
▪ Punter Michael Palardy is back today and getting a ton of well-wishers for him and his wife, who just had a baby. Fan: “How ya feelin?” Palardy: “Tired!”
▪ Tight end Greg Olsen and center Ryan Kalil walked in behind Rashaan Gaulden, razzing the rookie about wearing two different-colored cleats. Gaulden turned around once to look at them, and Olsen said, “Oh. Oh! Did you see that Ryan? He just mean-mugged a 12-year vet!”
▪ Gastonia native and PGA pro Harold Varner was a guest of Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
▪ Offensive lineman Amini Silatolu left practice in the front seat of a cart, and he was sent back to Charlotte for evaluation of a sore leg. In his absence, Brendan Mahon, an undrafted free agent from Penn State, got first-team reps at left guard.
▪ Detail-oriented assistant coach Steve Russ and the linebackers worked on coverage and pass breakup drills. Covering each other, they put an emphasis on hitting the ball with a soft palm using their outside hand so that they can also recover in mid-air. Thompson is especially good at this. The drill is part of a focus on takeaways throughout camp.
▪ Rookie tight end Ian Thomas had another leaping grab in end zone. Don’t be surprised if he scores Thursday night in first NFL action. He has consistently impressed in camp, and Tuesday was no exception.
▪ WR Fred Ross (hip) has passed his physical and is off the physically unable to perform list, which meant something important at practice Tuesday. Newton does handshakes with all his linemen and receivers, and he and Ross worked on one as the backups did installations. A fadeaway jumper was involved.
▪ Newton had a nice set of red zone touchdown throws, first two to running back Christian McCaffrey (one a corner end zone ball) and then a little dart over the top to wide receiver Jarius Wright.
▪ He says this isn’t a story, but running back C.J. Anderson is still in sweats at every practice and it’s hotter than the devil’s armpit and it’s amazing.
▪ Kevon Seymour intercepted a pass from backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke, then Captain Munnerlyn slapped down Heineke’s next pass.
Then Seymour, who was taking Heinicke’s lunch money, got a second interception..
▪ There’s not a known camp record for interceptions thrown in a single practice, but Heinicke might have set it. The backup quarterbacks were getting a lot of work in preparation for Thursday’s exhibition, when they are likely to play most of the game..
Roster and participation notes
▪ Offensive tackle Matt Kalil was back after sitting out Monday.
▪ The Panthers have signed DE Sterling Bailey, and . UDFA w Colts out of Georgia in 2016. Was at the Panthers rookie camp this year.
▪ Panthers have waived DT Ashaad Mabry.