ANOTHER DEFENSIVE END DEBUTS:All eyes were on defensive end Jared Allen when the Panthers took to the practice field Wednesday, but head coach Ron Rivera also kept an eye on Carolina's other addition at the position.
Rookie Ryan Delaire, signed off the Washington Redskins practice squad Wednesday onto the 53-man roster, also made a good first impression.
"I was very pleased with what I saw. I think they both have something to offer," Rivera said. "Delaire is going to have to show us that he's ready and confident. We'll see whether he gets the opportunity this Sunday or another Sunday down the line, but he flashed today. A lot of people are excited about him."
And Delaire is excited to be in Carolina. The 6-4, 265-pounder starred at Towson the past two seasons, compiling 22.5 sacks. Last season, he was named a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award that goes to the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
"It feels like a great opportunity," said Belaire, an undrafted rookie who was waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final roster cutdown and was signed to Washington's practice squad two days later. "I'm a speed rush kind of guy. I try to play everything with speed and try to convert it to power.
"Getting to the quarterback is the name of the game. At Towson, I was basically a pass rusher, but I also played the run very well."
Late in the 2012 season, the Panthers signed defensive end Mario Addison off the Redskins' practice squad. He's played in every game since, amassing 12 sacks in a reserve role, including two this season.
"There are a lot of good players on practice squads – those guys just need an opportunity," Addison said. "The Panthers gave me an opportunity, and I'm finding my way."
CHARLES JOHNSON COPING: Defensive end Charles Johnson understandably wasn't excited to hear that the Panthers were putting him on the injured reserve/designated for return list Tuesday, but at the end of the day, he understood.
Johnson won't be eligible to return from his hamstring injury until Week 12, but Rivera reminded Johnson that his play the final month of last season was crucial and could be again.
"He was disappointed, upset, but we sat down and talked to him about the value of him getting right," Rivera said. "No matter how you look at it, this was going to be a long time. We can try to get you out there sooner than you should be and you hurt it again and we lose you for the year, or we can take our time and make sure you're right and get you 100 percent."
QUESTIONS AT LINEBACKER: Luke Kuechly wasn't able to return to practice Wednesday like Rivera had hoped, and running mate Thomas Davis was limited as well.
Rivera had said Monday that he was hopeful that good news for Kuechly was around the corner. Wednesday, Rivera wasn't able to offer any information about whether Kuechly could miss a third consecutive game following a concussion suffered in the season opener.
"He's in the protocol," Rivera said. "I'm not the doctor. I'm the football coach and an optimistic guy.
"Where he is (in the protocol), I don't know."
Rivera also didn't elaborate on Davis' status beyond what was on the injury report. Davis was a limited participant in practice after suffering a pectoral injury in Sunday's victory over the New Orleans Saints.
SKILL PLAYERS SLOWED: Wide receiver Philly Brown felt ill when he awoke Wednesday. After receiving some medical treatment at Bank of America Stadium, Brown was sent home to recover and to keep his distance from teammates.
Running backs Jonathan Stewart (tibia) and Mike Tolbert (groin) also sat out practice, and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (ankle) continues to be out of action.
THE HEAT IS ON: After several rainy days, things suddenly turned hot and humid Wednesday.
"It made the last 15 minutes of practice tough on everybody. Today was a grind," Rivera said. "But that's what we're looking at as far as getting ready for Tampa Bay."
The temperature around practice time was in the low 80s, matching the current forecast for Tampa on Sunday.
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game versus the Buccaneers.