Butler leaves practice early with cramps

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The afternoon heat made Friday's practice a little more challenging, and it forced a couple rookies off the field a little early.

Rookie defensive tackle Vernon Butler, the Panthers' first-round selection, cramped up in his right leg and was carted off.

"The biggest thing was dealing with the heat today," head coach Ron Rivera said. "We had to take (Vernon) in and IV him up. He should be fine for tomorrow."

Rookie offensive tackle Jordan Rigsbee was take off the field moments later and Rivera said rookie fullback Devon Johnson did not participate due to illness.

Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei participated in team drills after being held out with hamstring tightness on Friday.

After two days in shorts and shells, the Panthers will take the field in pads for the first time on Saturday.

"The grind does start now. Why? Because the excitement has worn off," Rivera said. "The 20,000 people we had in that stands (Thursday night) – that was outstanding and they brought energy. But now the player has to dig down inside and keep himself going."

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