CHARLOTTE – It's been nearly three weeks since rookie wide receiver Curtis Samuel took part in all parts of practice, but it wasn't wasted time.
Samuel made a smooth transition back into team drills Monday, a testament to how he spent his time on the sideline.
"He looked good," head coach Ron Rivera said. "The nice part was that he knew where to line up for the most part, knew where to go, knew what his routes were supposed to be.
"We'll have to watch the tape, but it looked like he was doing the things he needed to be."
Samuel hadn't been a full participant since taking part in the Panthers' first training camp practice July 26. The Ohio State product known for his blazing speed has been slowed by a hamstring injury, but he used his healing time to get up to speed on the playbook.
"I wanted to be out there, but some good things came out of this injury," Samuel said. "I've been in the playbook, so I was able to study rather than being out there like a chicken with his head cut off.
"I had time that most people don't have because after practice when you're tired, sometimes it's hard to focus. But with me out a little bit, I was really able to study the playbook and really learn the ins and outs so I can give myself the best chance to play as soon as possible."
From the look of things Monday, that could be sooner rather than later. Samuel said, however, that he's not fully back even though it looked like he arguably was.
"Being out for a while, you don't want to push it. You want to creep into it," Samuel said. "I feel fine, though. I've just got to get better day.
"Being back out with the team, it's a great feeling for me."
And his team feels great about having Samuel out there as well – even if the second youngest player on the roster had to take a little ribbing from the second oldest.
"He looked pretty good, but I want to see more. I want to see that flash," said safety Mike Adams, who is entering his 14th NFL season. "He's getting there. I'm just teasing the rookie.
"He's going to make them better as a group. There's a lot of speed. As a group of receivers, this is the fastest group I've been around. That's saying a lot."
View photos from Carolina's third week of preseason practice.