CHARLOTTE – Wide receiver Devin Funchess and left tackle Matt Kalil took steps forward in terms of practice participation Friday, and the Panthers hope that right guard Trai Turner can take the final step to clear the concussion protocol in advance of Sunday's wild card game at the New Orleans Saints.
Head coach Ron Rivera said that Turner, who fully participated in practice all week, is set to see an independent doctor – the final phase of the protocol – in hopes of being cleared after a three-game absence.
Turner, Funchess (shoulder) and Kalil (illness) are all officially listed as questionable along with backup quarterback Derek Anderson, who was sent home Friday with the same illness that sidelined Kalil on Thursday.
"Having Matt back out there was good to see, but we sent D.A. home. Didn't want him to spread it to anyone else," Rivera said, adding that Kalil "looked really good today" as a limited practice participant.
Funchess was limited as well after sitting out practice Wednesday and Thursday.
"He's healing up nicely, moved around well today," Rivera said. "We just wanted to be smart."
The return of Turner – a native of New Orleans – could provide a boost to the offensive line. Amini Silatolu played well in his stead, especially in the first two games.
"There's a good chance it would be Amini (if Turner isn't cleared)," Rivera said, "though Tyler Larsen took some snaps there and at center as well."