Four takeaways from Tuesday's practice

KEY PLAYERS HEALING UP: Wide receiver Devin Funchess (hamstring) and defensive end Charles Johnson (calf) returned to practice Tuesday, but both were limited participants.

They took part in position drills and worked with the training staff during team periods.

"I'm just waiting on what the trainers are going to say," Funchess said. "I just have to stay level and not get too frustrated."

Head coach Ron Rivera will see how they perform Wednesday to determine their availability for Friday's game against the New England Patriots.

Funchess played in the preseason opener but missed the second contest against the Miami Dolphins. Johnson has yet to play in the preseason.

"They had (Charles) pushing the sleds and working some of his pass rush stuff," Rivera said. "We'll see how he reacts to everything. If you see him working with group (tomorrow), there's a good chance he'll play on Friday night."

LOVE FOR LOVE: Defensive tackle Kyle Love, who the Panthers signed last December, is making a strong impression on Rivera in his second year with the team.

"Real happy with what Kyle has done," Rivera said. "He got an opportunity to play at the end of (2014), and this year coming to OTAs and minicamps he was in great shape. He came to training camp in even better shape, which was really astounding."

Love had a solid camp and has become a fixture in Carolina's defensive tackle rotation. With Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short sidelined against the Dolphins, Love got the nod to start alongside Dwan Edwards.

"He's probably been our most consistent defensive lineman, our most consistent defensive tackle," Rivera said.

STAR PROGRESSING: Speaking of defensive tackles, Rivera said Lotulelei, who injured his foot during training camp and hasn't practiced or played in the preseason, is progressing well and should be ready to go for the regular season opener.

"He's right on track," Rivera said.

BROWN BOUNCING BACK: Wide receiver Corey Brown quickly moved past his struggles against the Dolphins. He was targeted by quarterback Cam Newton three times but did not record a reception.

"I'm not worried about that. It happens," Brown said of his drops. "That's the last thing on my mind right now – it was the last thing on my mind during the game.

"We know as a whole we need to be better and we will be better."

View practice photos from the third week of the preseason.

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