SPARTANBURG, S.C. – It only took a couple of snaps before the snapping sound associated with a padded practice filled the air at Gibbs Stadium on Sunday.
"I was very pleased with the tempo and physicality," head coach Ron Rivera said. "That's the start of what we've got to maintain as we start looking forward to the season."
The Panthers avoided notable injury as the physicality amped up. Wide receiver
As expected, guard
Also out Sunday was center
The addition of pads to the practice equation was a big moment for Panthers rookies, big and small. Defensive tackles
"I was very pleased with them," Rivera said. "They have the ability to make an impact on the defense. They'll let your linebackers run, and they'll impact your pass rush so the quarterback can't step up. That helps the coverage."
At the other end of the scale, the addition of pads also impacted rookie running back
The presence of pads in effect increased the speed of the game, but the speedy Barner was ready for it.
"Way back in OTAs, my first couple of reps I ran at full speed. I wasn't really patient about anything," Barner said. "So DeAngelo (Williams) pulled me to the side and told me to slow down, to wait for blocks to set up. That helped me get adjusted."
With Stewart - like Barner a former Oregon star - sidelined, the Panthers need Barner to adjust on the fly. Fortunately, the former track standout knows how to fly.
"I'd be a fool not to (take advantage of Stewart's absence)," Barner said. "The coaches have got to build their trust in me, and that gets me extra reps to be able to show them that I can do what they want me to do.
"If you don't have confidence in you, how can you expect anybody else to have confidence in you?"