Highlights, observations and more from Thursday morning’s Carolina Panthers training camp practice at Wofford College:
▪ Unofficial depth chart released by the Panthers lists Brenton Bersin as fourth receiver with draft pick Curtis Samuel, who has been limited by injuries, behind him. Tyler Larsen also hops to backup center.
▪ Panthers also list rookie No. 8 pick Christian McCaffrey at starter on punt return (and fourth-team on kickoff returns). While his talent there is prodigious, count us as skeptical they throw him out there.
▪ McCaffrey, Damiere Byrd and Kaelin Clay were working on punt returns. Based on how he’s moving, Clay will be fun to watch on punt returns in preseason games. Ultimately, it should be Clay and Byrd competing.
▪ Luke Kuechly was not very happy with something rookie tackle Taylor Moton did at the goal line during red zone drills. Tempers flared for about 3 seconds as they locked up, then separated.
▪ Kelvin Benjamin was getting his lower back/hamstrings worked on, maybe for a little tightness. Whatever it was, it kept him out of team drills.
▪ Cam Newton, not throwing for the third consecutive day, was much more animated from the sidelines. Early, he was coaching up the receivers during individual drills, and later he was yelling after every big offensive play, including one stretch when he screamed “Yeah! Yeah!” on four straight completions, assuring maximum defensive annoyance.
▪ Newton did get some non-throwing work in, including running for a touchdown around right end on a bootleg. He celebrated accordingly.
▪ Captain Munnerlyn practiced after previously being out with a hamstring strain.
▪ Joe Webb has become Joe Webb III on his jersey this year. Says he would have done it earlier but did not want to be seen as an RG3 copycat.
▪ McCaffrey highlights? On one play, he squirted through the right side but likely would’ve been dropped in the backfield by Dean Marlowe on a safety blitz. Later, McCaffrey made backup cornerback Jeff Richards fall down on a quick ankle-breaking cut. But to be fair, there was no pass rush and McCaffrey has done that to a lot of guys.
▪ In one stretch, there were back-to-back drops in seven-on-sevens by Jonathan Stewart and Shepard, then another by former Charlotte 49er Austin Duke on a long bomb from Joe Webb. But Duke came back with a nice catch on a ball thrown behind him.
▪ Former N.C. State receiver Trevor Graham made a big-time catch on a bomb down the sideline.
▪ Tight end Chris Manhertz had a nice catch in the end zone. He had a rough day a couple days ago.
▪ Near the end of practice, Newton got a little energy out while rolling left on another run. As everyone else stopped, he ran 100 yards and placed the ball at the goal line.
▪ Russell Shepard bobbled pass along the sideline, corralled it – but out of bounds.
▪ Fred Ross, carted off at the very end of practice Wednesday with what looked to be heat-related symptoms, wasn’t practicing.
▪ The Panthers were joined on the field by Dorman High for a “joint practice.” Dorman is Observer columnist Scott Fowler’s alma mater.
▪ Former Panthers DT Dwan Edwards gave the Dorman defensive line a pep talk.
▪ Practice ended with a Teddy Williams pick 6 on an awful Garrett Gilbert throw.
▪ The Panthers are down to six practices in Spartanburg.