With neither safety Da’Norris Searcy (concussion protocol) nor cornerback Donte Jackson (groin) participating in Carolina Panthers practice Thursday, coach Ron Rivera said the team is working out a number of other players in the event those starters cannot play in Sunday’’s home game against Cincinnati.
Versatile cornerback Corn Elder, who can play outside as well as in the slot, has been getting extra reps in Jackson’s absence. At safety, Rivera said he anticipates both rookie Rashaan Gaulden and Colin Jones would see time at Searcy’s vacated spot, and they could also sub in for starter Mike Adams as needed.
Searcy’s concussion is his second in five weeks.
“We’re splitting reps right now and making sure they all get an opportunity to work now, and not just at Searcy’s position, but working the other side as well with Mike,” Rivera said of Gaulden and Jones. “That’s pretty much why we’re working everybody through. We’ve got three guys working two positions basically.”
Gaulden, who was also learning the team’s “big nickel” position this offseason, has focused primarily on safety this week and has responded well to more reps, Rivera said.
“I think he’s done really well. I’m beginning to find out, he’s really tough on himself,” Rivera said of Gaulden. “When he makes a mistake, he’s trying to correct it and you can see him working through it. He asks questions about it, so he’s very aware of his opportunities when he’s on the field.”
Rivera said he would wait until later this week before drawing any conclusions about playing time for Searcy or Jackson. Both have worked on the sideline with trainers at practice, but neither has participated otherwise.
As far of the rest of the team’s injury report, there were no changes from Wednesday. Tight end Greg Olsen was not at practice Thursday as he rehabs his broken right foot, although he was seen the day before without a walking boot. Wide receiver Curtis Samuel (medical illness) also was not at practice.
Guard Trai Turner, who missed the Falcons game while working through in the concussion protocol, did not participate in practice Thursday and worked on the sideline with trainers.