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Carolina Panthers

Frank Reich updates on injuries before facing the New York Giants

Terrace Marshall Jr.

CHARLOTTE – Frank Reich had plenty to update on when he spoke to reporters Wednesday. The Panthers had just wrapped a walkthrough, closed to the media, before the team travels Thursday to face the New York Giants on Friday night.

For Carolina, quite a few faces will be missing from the on-field action at MetLife Stadium.

Among others, wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (back) won't play after he was carted away during Monday's practice. Reich said they're "still evaluating" the third-year wide receiver's status, but he won't be ready in 48 hours.

"Don't want to jump to quick conclusions," Reich said of Marshall's status. "Sometimes with these things you've got to let them settle down for two, three, four days, you know? So that's what we're in the process of doing.

Veteran backup quarterback Andy Dalton (back) may not have played much anyway, as Reich had alluded to wanting to see more of Matt Corral while giving Bryce Young his small workload. But Dalton, who missed Tuesday's practice, was ruled out entirely, though Reich called Dalton's condition "not an uncommon thing, nothing serious."

The Panthers won't have running back Miles Sanders, either, for the second game in a row, while he continues to recover from a groin issue sustained toward the end of training camp in Spartanburg. Reich said there's a chance Sanders won't play at all through the preseason.

The Panthers have two preseason games remaining – this Friday at the Giants, and a week later at home against the Lions.

"It's getting better," Reich said of Sanders' injury. "I don't know if we would have played him or not (regardless of injury) because I think he was looking really good and explosive. Maybe we would've played him for a couple carries, maybe not. But I think we're getting close."

At right guard, a position of need with plenty of eyes upon it after a tough outing against the Jets, the Panthers gained some depth along the line (Chandler Zavala, Nash Jensen's returns from injury) and lost some depth (principal among them, Cade Mays) this week.

Mays has a neck injury that Reich didn't seem especially pessimistic about, though he said Mays would not play Friday at New York.

Mays was the first of three right guard options to slot in with the first-team line guarding Young in Saturday's preseason game.

"We're very bullish on Cade and very thankful he's on the roster," Reich said. "As we said, we wanted it to be competitive. It is. I am not the doctor, so I don't want to get into Cade's deal too much. I don't think it's going to be a concern long-term. I think it's a very short-term thing. But he definitely won't be available this week."

– Regarding right guard, Reich said there wouldn't be "quite as much" of a rotation at the position against the Giants.

The Panthers rotated three different guards out on Young's three different drives, starting with Mays before transitioning to Justin McCray and Michael Jordan, in that order.

"There'll be a little rotation, not quite as much," Reich said. "Still working with (offensive line coach James Campen) on that. Wanted to see those young guys – Zavala and Nash – kind of get them through this week and make sure they didn't have any setbacks. I'll sit down with Campy at some point today and finalize what that'll be."

– Young said he sees the challenge ahead, facing the Giants' defense with coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale, as an opportunity for the offense to grow.

There's plenty of room to grow after everything that happened against the Jets, and Young, a rookie with his whole future ahead of him, is looking to learn from the "unique" pressure Martindale's group is likely to bring.

"You're going to get different coordinators with different mindsets, different philosophies, different schemes," Young said. "This being a scheme that brings a lot; there's a lot of pressures, a lot of blitz, a lot of different looks, I think it's a great opportunity for us to go out and see how we fare.

"We have (been) doing everything we can to account for those, to figure out how we can try to take advantage of it, all this stuff like that. I think for us, we're really looking at it as an opportunity to see a bunch of stuff. There's a lot of exotic stuff."

– Punter Johnny Hekker spoke with the media for the first time of camp Wednesday, sharing more about his bond with fellow former Los Angeles Rams employee (and current offensive coordinator) Thomas Brown, as well as some of the games Carolina's specialists play on the practice field, to pass the time between their reps.

Hekker's group, which includes longtime long snapper JJ Jansen and returning kicker Eddy Piñeiro (and, for now, new fill-in kicker Matthew Wright, here while Piñeiro recovers from a groin issue sustained in training camp), has stayed intact from last season, and that brings a particular level of connection for them.

And their individual competitions help make it a lot more fun out there on those hot mornings and afternoons.

"We're competitive beings at heart," Hekker said. "As specialists, we have kind of a finite time we can be of use during practice. We get our kicks and get our drill work in, then we kind of have some time to kill. So we like to compete (and) have fun for pride."

View photos from Panthers practice Tuesday in Charlotte.

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