Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers first-round pick Shaq Thompson returns Thursday

Carolina Panthers rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson strained his hamstring in a May minicamp, then returned to the University of Washington to complete his classes there, per NFL rules.
Carolina Panthers rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson strained his hamstring in a May minicamp, then returned to the University of Washington to complete his classes there, per NFL rules. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers first-round pick Shaq Thompson is scheduled to return to Charlotte on Thursday after missing all of the Organized Team Activities practices to finish school at the University of Washington.

Thompson will participate in Carolina’s three-day minicamp next week, learning to play at outside linebacker opposite Thomas Davish.

He has not been on the field for the Panthers since tweaking his hamstring during rookie minicamp on May 8. He missed the rest of rookie camp, then went back to Washington to finish school.

He has kept in contact with linebackers coach Al Holcomb and worked on the playbook with his team-issued tablet.

“The hard thing is most of these guys are advanced and he’ll be behind, lagging behind,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “I know Al has been sending him the stuff on the iPad and they conference call, I guess, whatever they’re allowed to do. … They’ll go through those things in installation. Shaq will call him at all hours of the day asking questions. The thing Shaq has to remember is when it’s 9 there, it’s midnight here.”

When Thompson was last in Charlotte he spent time with cornerback Bené Benwikere going over the playbook. Both players are young and from California.

“I know how it is trying to come in and learn the playbook, so I was just trying to give him as much knowledge as I can, so that way he can play faster,” Benwikere said. “We want to get these wins. We don’t want to go through a slump. We want to get the wins rolling and he’s going to be a key point to that.”

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