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Five takeaways from first day of minicamp

1. RIVERA EXPECTS BETTER: The Panthers are three days away from a long pre-training camp break, but head coach Ron Rivera wants his players focused on a different countdown: 86 days from the season opener.

After the first of three minicamp practices, Rivera gathered the team around him and made sure they understood how he felt about the miscues he witnessed.

"To see the mistakes that were made on very basic things really disappointed me, more than anything else," Rivera said. "I just wanted to make sure they all understood that. I reminded them we play in 86 days.

"There's a lot being thrown at (the young guys). We're not going to wait for them. They've got to catch up, but that's part of their learning process. They've got to figure out how to catch up. You'll find that the guys who are really working at it and doing the things that we need to do won't make the mistakes that are being made right now. Some of them are making mistakes, and that's the disappointment that I have right now. We've been together, they've been in the playbook, we've had practices, they've met with their coaches. They should be putting themselves in position where they don't make these kind of mistakes."

Rivera certainly expects to see better execution during the final minicamp practices Wednesday and Thursday.

2. SHORT PARTICIPATES: Defensive tackle Kawann Short missed last week's voluntary OTA practices but returned for the start of mandatory minicamp.

"It's good to have him here," Rivera said. "He looked good out there. I know the rest of the defensive tackles were happy to have him out here, especially with this heat."

Said linebacker and team captain Thomas Davis: "We know how important KK is to this football team, and hopefully soon they'll get (an extension) worked out because he is a guy who is definitely deserving of everything that's about to happen for him. He played tremendous last year and made our job easier as linebackers, so we definitely want him here.

"There's two sides to this game. There's going out and actually playing the game, and there's the business aspect of it."

3. SCIFRES COMPETING: Rivera likes what he's seen so far from veteran punter Mike Scifres, who was signed last week. Scifres is competing with Swayze Waters for the job.

"Mike has been very consistent," Rivera said. "He's got a strong leg. I was in San Diego with him for four seasons. He's a veteran guy who has been through it. He's going to bring that competiveness to the position. Mike is a proven guy."

4. BYRD CONTINUES TO IMPRESS: Wide receiver Damiere Byrd's playmaking ability has extended beyond rookie minicamp. He was productive throughout OTAs and made arguably the top play Tuesday, sprinting away from rookie cornerback James Bradberry to haul in a deep pass down the sideline from quarterback Cam Newton.

"His routes are even better than they were last year," Rivera said. "He worked very hard at it. You see him attacking the ball, and that's one thing Ricky (Proehl) preaches with his receivers. He's growing into the position. It's going to be very competitive as we go into training camp, and I think he'll have a good opportunity to be a contributor."

5. BERSIN, HAWKINS SIDELINED: Wide receiver Brenton Bersin and offensive tackle Donald Hawkins were unable to finish Tuesday's practice.

Bersin suffered an ankle injury after slipping at the top of his route and was helped off the field.

The heat got to Hawkins, who was pulled out and sent to the training room.

"It's too bad, he was practicing really well," Rivera said of Hawkins. "He had a couple really good practices. He's shown very nicely. Hopefully we can get him to the point where he can get used to this. He's just got to condition himself."

Additionally, wide receiver Devin Funchess was sick and missed practice.

View photos from Tuesday's mandatory practice.

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