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Camp observations: Shaq Thompson leaves practice early

Shaq Thompson

SPARTANBURG — The Panthers weren't particularly deep at linebacker anyway, and they had a minor scare late in Saturday night's Back Together practice at Gibbs Stadium.

Shaq Thompson left the field late in practice. He was walking on his own, with a member of the team's athletic training staff alongside.

After practice, head coach Matt Rhule said it didn't appear to be a major concern, and that Thompson just tightened up a bit, so he sent him in as a precaution to get a head start on treatment.

"I don't know, didn't seem too serious; he just tightened up," Rhule said.

Denzel Perryman subbed in to replace Thompson the rest of the practice, alongside Jermaine Carter.

The Panthers are only carrying eight total linebackers, and Haason Reddick and Frankie Luvu are more pass-rushing outside linebackers, so even if Thompson is fine, it underscored a thin spot on the roster as its presently constructed.

— Wide receiver Robby Anderson took his turn as the highlight-reel receiver of the night, with an impressive one-handed catch of a Will Grier pass during one-on-ones.

"I ain't gonna lie, when he threw it, I thought for a split-second I wasn't going to get it because it had a lot of air under it," Anderson said. "But I just trusted it and came down, threw one hand out and grabbed it."

DJ Moore had another impressive night of practice, and is clearly the most consistent of their receiving corps.

Rookie Terrace Marshall Jr., who has had his share of big plays in the first week, won't remember Saturday night fondly. He had a couple of drops, making for a frustrating debut in front of a big crowd.

— While there was some excitement in the air, for a night practice in front of 6,171 fans, the practice itself got a little rough at times.

Rhule called up the team to bark at them for a few moments late in practice, before resuming the work.

"I was not happy at the end, because we were doing too many things we don't normally do," Rhule said. "You've got to be the same guy every day. Our best players, they're the same guys on Wednesdays they are on Sundays. Some of our guys were amped up. And we were on the ground, and we're never on the ground this much in practice. So I called them up and just said, 'Don't do different things just because there's people here. Just do what we do on the practice field.' That's an important message for young teams. The best in the world, they do what they do all the time.

"It was great to have the crowd here, and see where we're at. And a lot of our young guys were amped up and anxious. And you're not going to win a lot of games if you do that, so it was a good learning experience."

There were a few ragged moments, with more dropped passes and a little shoving after a play ( J.T. Ibe and Colin Thompson exchanged some words but quickly went their separate ways).

— Among the many fans taking a look at practice was some guy who used to play linebacker here. Maybe you remember him.

As is his custom, Luke Kuechly slid out quietly as soon as it was over, after chatting with a few former co-workers.

— When the practice was over, there was a tangible sense of relief, and even pets.

Cornerback Troy Pride Jr. was walking around afterward with his fuzzy brown dog, Kobe, and there were a number of families on the field. The league relaxed COVID-19 rules on Friday, which had previously prevented families from being within 20 feet of players. Now, family members who live with players can visit on the field after practice.

Players have Sunday off, with no curfew Saturday night, so some might go home before returning Sunday night. The facility will be open for players who need treatment, and they'll return to practice Monday morning.

They still won't be in full pads until Tuesday, and as eager as they are to get to that, the break is something they'll welcome.

View photos from Saturday's Back Together practice at Gibbs Stadium in Wofford.