SPARTANGBURG, S.C. – The Panthers answered the bell during a five-day grind to kick off training camp, and the young players at the team's most questioned position have answered the call so far.
That was head coach Ron Rivera's assessment after the Panthers hit the practice field for the last time before the players' first day off.
"It's been a tough five days, but it's been a good grind," Rivera said. "Today was a good practice. The secondary was very active and forced some things to happen."
While Rivera also praised his established offensive line, the praise for a group working hard to establish itself is most encouraging. The one starter returning from last year's second, safety Kurt Coleman, got a veteran's day off, and the cornerback most experienced in the Panthers system – Bene Benwikere – continue to take his time on the physically unable to perform list.
Second-year player Dean Marlowe filled Coleman's role alongside Tre Boston at safety, and the Panthers' three rookie corners (and up-and-comer Lou Young) continued making plays.
"Kurt Coleman had a vet day, and we wanted to see how the secondary was going to handle it with such a vocal leader. They handled it well," Rivera said. "They're practicing very confident. They feel very comfortable with what they're doing because they know what they're doing. That's probably the most important thing, and it's a tribute to them and their position coaches and their coordinator. Those guys have really put a lot of effort into it."
Daryl Worley had his second interception of camp, but Rivera singled out the efforts of Zack Sanchez, who has been doubling as an outside corner – the position he played in college – and nickel corner.
"The guy who probably has the hardest job right now is Zack because we're asking him to learn so much – not just playing corner but also nickel," Rivera said. "He's been taxed right now mentally and physically, and it's calling for different skill sets. But as you saw, he made a real nice play in the seam."
The game plan for the rookies and veterans alike should be simple for Tuesday's day off according to Rivera.
"Resting. Feet up. Icing. Recuperating."