CHARLOTTE – Wide receiver Curtis Samuel is set to make his regular season debut Sunday against the Giants, while right guard Trai Turner is set to play for the first time since the season opener.
The Panthers' injury report for Week 5 is close to clean coming off their bye. That could create a good problem to have for head coach Ron Rivera – the selection of seven inactives come Sunday. Rivera did say Friday that defensive end Efe Obada, who earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his showing in his NFL debut two weeks ago, would be active against the Giants.
"I'll tell you that right now – Efe is going to have a jersey," Rivera said. "We've got to make sure it's not a one-and-done type of thing. We want to see him continually grow and play well. He did a great job earning the opportunity and then he took advantage of the opportunity. We hope he can continue that and be effective for us."
Samuel, following a strong preseason performance that saw him tie for the league lead with four 20-plus-yard catches, was sidelined by a medical illness. Rivera didn't say how much Samuel might play Sunday, but he said he could have a role in the return game and that Samuel looks capable of contributing at the level he did before the issue.
"He's practiced well, and he stayed involved as much as could. The last couple of days in practice, he really just picked up where he left off," Rivera said. "Made a couple of big catches in practice. He's looking good."
Rivera joked that he reminded Turner how well the offensive line played in his absence. Tyler Larsen filled in the last two games for the Pro Bowler while he was in the concussion protocol.
"The pressure's on, that's for sure," Rivera said with a smile. "He looks good. He practiced well this week. It's good to have him out there. He brings a little energy. He's got a little fire to him, so it will be good having him out there."
Tight end Greg Olsen (foot) has been ruled out as expected, while special teams stalwart Jared Norris (toe) cropped up unexpectedly on the injury report after suffering an injury during Friday's practice and is listed as questionable.
Rivera said Olsen ended his week strong in his partial return to practice as he progresses toward returning from the foot injury he suffered in Week 1.
"This morning he came in and his body was sore – normal soreness when you work that hard – but he came out and worked hard again," Rivera said. "Looking good. Signs are positive."
View photos from the week of practice leading up to the Panthers' game against the Giants.