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Ealy returns to practice on limited basis

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Defensive end Kony Ealy returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, while head coach Ron Rivera hopes two other players that sat out practice can return for the Panthers' annual Fan Fest practice Friday evening.

Ealy entered the concussion protocol after being injured in practice Saturday. He isn't all the way back, but Rivera was happy to see one of his projected starters back out there after missing three practices.

"Kony went through the protocol, and he got to the point where the next stage was to have him come out and do some light physical activity," Rivera said. "We rotated him through. Anytime we got to the one-on-ones, he didn't do stuff like that. But had him in the individual and some of the group stuff, and we got him some limited reps as far as the team stuff was concerned."

Fellow defensive end Rakim Cox sat out practice after suffering a back injury Wednesday, and wide receiver Philly Brown did the same because of an ankle injury.

"Rakim tweaked it yesterday, so they wanted to make sure he was fine. We're hoping to have him ready for Fan Fest," Rivera said. "Philly, he rolled his ankle yesterday at the end of practice, and they treated it and wanted to hold him out. The goal is to have him ready for Fan Fest as well."

Fan Fest practice is set to begin Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium. Gates open for fans who secured tickets for the event at 6 p.m.

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