CHARLOTTE – Quarterback Cam Newton, one of the leaders of the lone undefeated team remaining in the NFL, took a moment to reflect about how far the Panthers have come since he arrived as the No.1 overall pick in 2011.
"I just reminisce sometimes… when I first came to this franchise, how different it was and the mentality," Newton said. "People would look at me like I was wrong for having the type of attitude, having the type of expectations for this team. Now that we are actually living through it right now, it's not a surprise for me, and I know it's not a surprise for guys in the locker room."
Carolina's winning ways have intensified the spotlight and created a discussion about whether the Panthers can finish the season unbeaten. But Newton, as you might expect, is only concerned with beating the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
"That's the only thing on my mind, and I think I speak for the masses when I say that," Newton said. "Our main focus is to become 12-0 first."
INJURY UPDATES: The Panthers won't have an injury report until Wednesday, but head coach Ron Rivera offered some updates.
Wide receiver Philly Brown (shoulder) practiced and appears to be on track for a return from a two-game absence this week.
"Philly looked good today. He moved around nicely," Rivera said.
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and defensive end Mario Addison, who both suffered sprained ankles against the Cowboys, did not practice. Lotulelei worked on the side and indicated after practice that he likes his chances to play Sunday, but Addison stayed in for treatment and may have a tougher time.
"They had (Mario) in the cast for a couple days to try and keep the swelling down. He's out of the cast, and they put him in the boot," Rivera said. "We'll see how he reacts tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a big day for Mario as far as this weekend is concerned."
Cornerback Charles Tillman, who has missed two games with a knee injury, worked on the side, but Rivera said he's not sure about his status yet for this week.
FINNEGAN'S FIRST IMPRESSION: Rivera thinks newly signed cornerback Cortland Finnegan will be a good fit, both in the locker room and in the defense. Finnegan, who had been "retired" since the end of last season, practiced for the first time Tuesday, and Rivera was pleased with what he saw.
"From every indication, he looked pretty good today, and we'll see how he is come Friday," Rivera said. "But we're not in a hurry. We have a good group of guys out there right now, and he'll be part of what we're trying to do."
PRACTICE SQUAD MOVE: After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed linebacker Adarius Glanton off the Carolina practice squad, the Panthers filled the spot by signing rookie linebacker Brian Blechen, who started the season on the team's practice squad.
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game against the Saints.