The Carolina Panthers should have both starting cornerbacks back from concussions for Sunday’s season opener at Jacksonville, and the status of a couple of other injured starters also looks promising.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Charles Tillman, whose head injury occurred against New England on Aug. 28, has been cleared to play in Week 1, and Josh Norman has one more test to pass before he’s out of the concussion protocol.
Norman was able to participate in Monday’s practice because it was a non-contact session held in shorts and helmets. Rivera said Norman, who was injured while making a tackle last week at Pittsburgh, should be cleared in time for the Panthers’ next practice on Wednesday.
Defensive end Charles Johnson, who did not play in an exhibition game because of calf and neck injuries, practiced Monday and said he plans to play against the Jaguars.
Center Ryan Kalil, who sprained his knee against the Patriots, and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who missed the entire preseason with a foot issue, both worked with the training staff Monday.
Kalil said last week he expected to be play against the Jaguars. Rivera sounded a little more cautious in discussing Lotulelei, who developed a stress reaction in his surgically repaired right foot Aug. 3.
“If it’s sore, then we’re not going to risk it,” Rivera said. “We’ve got to be smart. It’s a long season. We’ve got 17 weeks left. So we can’t be hasty with guys.”
Johnson said he felt a crick in his neck after returning to practice last week following a long layoff because of a strained calf. Johnson missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury last year, then went the first month of the regular season without a sack.
“What happened last year happened last year,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to Sunday.”