SPARTANBURG, S.C. – With the longest stretch of consecutive days of practicing coming to an end, quarterback Cam Newton's day under center came to an end just before the finish line.
After taking part in a team period during the first half of practice, Newton was an interested observer in the final three team periods Sunday while remaining an active participant in individual drills.
"That's part of the maintenance," head coach Ron Rivera said of Newton, who arrived at camp having not thrown in a practice since undergoing shoulder surgery four months ago. "Don't be surprised. It could happen at any practice. It's all just part of the process of him getting back to shape. Five straight days of work, and we saw it, and he went out reluctantly.
"But he still was doing the other stuff he's supposed to be doing, so I'm not concerned at all."
Fatigue had the potential to be a factor for everyone on the roster Sunday, the culmination of what Rivera labeled as the toughest stretch of camp. After a day off Monday, the Panthers will have four consecutive days of practice (culminating with Fan Fest on August 4), then after a day off they'll again be on the field four consecutive days (culminating with the preseason opener August 9 against the Texans).
The stretch that just concluded, however, was five days and came as the team adjusted to both the Spartanburg heat and the introduction of pads for the first time since last season.
"It's probably the toughest stretch we'll have all of training camp – five practices in a row, three padded in a row," Rivera said. "It was a tough day, but I thought the guys pushed through it and ended up on a good note. We'll see how it looks on tape, though.
"I really saw some guys gut through it, building that toughness, that callousness that you have to have."
Rivera gave "vet days" to several of the team's more seasoned players Sunday. They should be back in action Tuesday morning, hopefully joined by some of the players who haven't been practicing because of injury. Rivera said wide receiver Curtis Samuel, the Panthers' second-round draft pick, could be among those returning after missing all three padded practices with a hamstring strain.
"We'll see. I'm just going to go along with what the trainers tell me with our guys, and whoever is back on Tuesday, that's who will practice," Rivera said. "We hope to get all our guys back on the field as soon as we can. You want to get those guys on the field working with their teammates so that we know exactly what we have."
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