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Panthers training camp observations: Day 15

Posted Aug 13, 2017

Training camp wrapped up with another positive step for Cam Newton.

Play of the Day

In Major League Baseball, it’s called a getaway day.

In the NFL, it doesn’t really have a name. It’s pretty much “get in your car as soon as practice ends to head home” day.

But near the end of the Panthers’ final training camp practice on Sunday, wide receiver Russell Shepard proved his focus was still in Spartanburg.

With the offense working inside the 10-yard line, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn blitzed Derek Anderson. Reading that, Shepard broke off a “hot route,” slanting into the end zone. While Anderson’s pass was behind Shepard, the first-year Panther reached behind his back and snagged the ball with one hand. That elicited oohs from defensive players on the sideline and a shout of appreciation from Anderson.

Injury Updates

—After taking a planned day off from throwing Sunday, quarterback Cam Newton was allowed to toss to his teammates again. His passes appeared to have good zip in individual drills, including a high throw to tight end Greg Olsen that had too much zip.

Newton was still held out of most team periods, but he did attempt at least four tosses in a red zone drill – his first throws in a team period in exactly two weeks. The first two were complete in the right flat, first to Olsen, then to running back Fozzy Whittaker. Newton’s third went over Olsen’s head. Moments later, though, the quarterback fooled the defense with a pump fake to his left before firing a dart to Shepard in the middle of the end zone.

—Offensive tackle Amini Silatolu, who walked off the practice field early in Saturday’s practice, wasn’t out there for Sunday’s session. Head coach Ron Rivera said he expects Silatolu to return Tuesday morning.

—Rookie wideout Fred Ross appeared to tweak his right ankle midway through practice. He had ice wrapped around it for the final half hour.

Additional Practice Notes

—Obviously antsy to break camp, players were on the field earlier than normal. And Newton, per usual, played the energetic, playful ringleader:

—Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis engaged in a “hot potato” version of catch with linebackers coach Al Holcomb and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Loser had to do pushups, so when Wilks let the ball hit the ground, so did he.

—In lieu of major flare-ups this camp, there were only little dust-ups. Example: When left tackle Matt Kalil went a bit too hard against defensive end Mario Addison during a play Sunday, Addison gave Kalil a shove in the back. Instead of engaging further, Kalil just jogged back to the huddle.

—Notable offensive plays:

—Tight end Chris Manhertz skying high to grab a touchdown toss from Anderson in the red zone.

—Wideout Damiere Byrd making a snag in traffic deep down the middle of the field.

—Anderson, from the 2-yard line, tossing to the right side for wideout Devin Funchess, who went over James Bradberry to make the catch.

—Notable defensive plays:

—Linebacker Shaq Thompson breaking up an Anderson pass intended for Olsen.

—Cornerback Teddy Williams knocking away a deep ball from Joe Webb to Austin Duke moments after Williams did the same on a Webb pass to Byrd.

—The day included more special teams work than usual. During one team period, after the offense drove to the 28-yard line, coaches yelled for the field goal team. As that unit sprinted onto the field, Rivera counted down the time. “10, 9, 8 … ” before rookie kicker Harrison Butker drained a 45-yard field goal. That came after incumbent Graham Gano nailed a 65-yard attempt in a kicking period.

—In the team's final huddle, Rivera congratulated his players on a good effort in Spartanburg while reminding them there's plenty of work ahead.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” safety Kurt Coleman said. “We came out healthy for the most part, and these guys have been working hard together. I think this is a great group of guys, but we’ve got to continue to build. We’ve got to take this mindset back to Charlotte, to Nashville, et cetera. We’ve got a good starting block.”