For all the talk of Carolina’s secondary this offseason — who would win the Panthers’ No. 2 cornerback spot, how would the two rookies fit in, and so on — there were never really many questions about Da’Norris Searcy.
The Panthers signed Searcy, a 29-year-old former Bills/Titans starter, this offseason to fill the void left by Kurt Coleman, and for much of training camp, he aptly filled that role. But then an odd hit against Miami in the team’s second preseason game stunted that progress, as Searcy left the game in the concussion protocol.
He finally returned Tuesday. Searcy participated in practice two days before Carolina’s final preseason game against Pittsburgh, working with the defensive backs instead of trainers on the sideline.
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Rivera said Searcy was allowed to practice because he has completed the concussion protocol, but said Searcy still will not play against the Steelers on Thursday.
“It’s good to have him back and working with the guys, getting the communications going again,” Rivera said. “It’s a good thing, so we can just keep going.”
Searcy’s return comes a day after defensive end Julius Peppers, who was previously on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, was cleared to practice in full.
Greg Olsen’s practice absence nothing to worry about
Tight end Greg Olsen was absent from Carolina Panthers practice on Tuesday, but there’s no reason to fret.
Coach Ron Rivera confirmed after practice that Olsen, who was at the facility Tuesday, didn’t miss practice because of any injuries.
“Rest day,” Rivera said. “That’s pretty much it.”
Olsen and most of Carolina’s starters will not play Thursday night against the Steelers in the final game of the preseason, although it was still unusual for Olsen to miss Tuesday’s practice.
In Olsen’s place, expect rookie fourth-rounder Ian Thomas — who flashed at training camp for his athleticism and has already scored this preseason — to see plenty of reps. Behind Thomas, Chris Manhertz figures to assume the No. 3 tight end spot when he returns from a fractured foot, but he also will not play Thursday. Evan Baylis and Cam Serigne should also see time, especially after halftime.
Searcy wasn’t the only returning Panther. Receiver Damiere Byrd, kept out of practice Monday because of soreness, was back doing team drills, and seventh-round pick Andre Smith, a linebacker out of UNC, participated for the second day in a row.
Neither tackle Matt Kalil (knee) nor backup Jeremiah Sirles (hamstring) were at practice Tuesday.
Cornerback Kevon Seymour, who was recovering from a root canal but Rivera said has “a little something more,” worked with trainers on the side. He was joined by Daryl Williams and Amini Silatolu, both of whom are recovering from knee injuries, as well as defensive end Marquis Haynes, tight end Chris Manhertz (foot) and tight end Jason Vander Laan (knee).