Ron Rivera glad to have KK Short back
Three thoughts from Carolina Panthers OTAs and minicamp:
▪ Defensive tackle Kawann Short told me Thursday there was “nothing to talk about” regarding his contract talks, implying little has changed in the stalled negotiations. But the Panthers are still talking with Short and his agent Joel Segal, which puts this contract situation on a more promising course than the Josh Norman negotiations.
▪ The Panthers invited a grownup to the punting competition when they signed Mike Scifres, the San Diego Chargers’ punter for 13 seasons. Scifres, coming off knee surgery on his non-kicking leg, should benefit from a change of scenery (and a healthy plant leg).
But his presence also figures to make Swayze Waters better. Waters, the former CFL Special Teams Player of the Year, was on his way to winning the job by default before Scifres arrived.
▪ Injuries to several of the Panthers’ key players meant more opportunities for a number of younger players. I wrote earlier this week about the marked improvement of wideout Devin Funchess in his second season.
But someone else who was on the field a lot in May and June was second-year linebacker David Mayo, the former fifth-round pick who was strictly a special teams player in 2015.
Mayo still plays behind arguably the deepest linebacking group in the NFL. But his spring reps could prove invaluable if Luke Kuechly has a setback in his return from shoulder surgery or if there’s another injury at the position.