Five practice observations: Day 4

View the top photos from the fourth practice of training camp at Wofford College.

BACK IN CHARGE: Head coach Ron Rivera made his presence felt following a two-day absence from practice to attend his brother's funeral. He forcefully encouraged his big guys in the building heat ("Let's go men! We win at the line!") but also took note of the rising temperatures and backed off with an extended water break. It's a small example of what makes him such an effective coach – knowing when to push his players and when to protect them.

VETERAN MOVE: Rivera continued the practice of being mindful of the needs of some of the more experienced players on the roster, giving linebacker Thomas Davis, running back Jonathan Stewart, center Ryan Kalil, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, defensive tackle Dwan Edwards and safety Roman Harper a veteran's day off. Lest you think they got nothing out of the day, take note of Harper, who "played" deep safety at times during practice by dropping way back in the middle of the field for a unique look at what was going on in his stead.

VETERAN VOICE: Twelve-year veteran but first-year Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman didn't get the day off, and despite a heat index of 109, he didn't take plays off – even when officially he did. While watching from the sideline while other players took their snaps, he reminded them to vocalize.

"Everybody talk. Don't keep it a secret. Echo the call."

Tillman also set the tone for a physical, competitive practice with playful ribbing of some offensive linemen during a pre-practice stretch.

TILLMAN II: Tillman's impact is being seen several times per practice, even on plays where he's not near the ball. Cornerback Josh Norman became the latest Panther to execute the "Peanut Punch," popping the ball loose from wide receiver Brenton Bersin.

Is Rivera happier about the defense causing fumbles or more disappointed about the offense putting the ball on the ground?

"If I'm in the defensive meeting, we're real happy about it. If I'm in the offensive meeting, we have a concern," Rivera said. "Charles Tillman did that when we were in Chicago, and it made those running backs, those receivers better at protecting the football. There's a plus to it."

THE KELVIN SCALE: By any measure, second-year wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin continues to have an outstanding camp. He's quickly put to rest any questions about his health or conditioning by making plays all over the field. There are times that because of his size and quarterback Cam Newton's arm that Benjamin is simply indefensible: Witness a nearly flawless play from the defense's perspective ruined by a leaping catch by Benjamin with flustered cornerback Teddy Williams seemingly in perfect position.

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