The most glaring absence at the Carolina Panthers’ first OTA session was third-year receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Benjamin, kicker Graham Gano and defensive tackle Paul Soliai were given excused absences to attend to their respective family issues.
Rivera said he expects all three to return later this week for other OTA sessions that will not be open to the media.
Benjamin has been recovering from a torn ACL suffered last training camp that kept him out of the entire 2015 season. He began running around the first of the year and has been active in Carolina’s offseason program.
Benjamin was photographed Monday night at his high school’s spring football game, so it stands to reason his family issue is back home in Florida.
Last year he showed up to offseason workouts nearly 10 pounds overweight, but team sources have indicated he’s in great shape.
Soliai will be in the rotation at defensive tackle with Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei as the likely starters inside.
Gano has no competition at kicker on the roster, so the Panthers practiced their field-goal protections without actually kicking the ball Tuesday.