CHARLOTTE - The Panthers are taking a "precautionary" approach with tight end Greg Olsen, who missed a second consecutive day of practice Thursday.
"It's one of those things we wanted to back off, and go from there," head coach Ron Rivera said.
Despite the circumstances, Rivera added that he'd be comfortable playing Olsen against the Saints even if the Pro Bowler misses the entire week of practice. Last Sunday against the Jets, Olsen returned to the lineup for the first time since breaking his right foot in Week 2. He exited in the third quarter after experiencing soreness. Tests revealed he hadn't suffered any additional significant damage.
In other injury news, quarterback Cam Newton's right thumb is getting better and his "spirals are coming out tight."
"It's one of those things, he hit on someone's back and the only thing that really helps it is time, rest and treatment," Rivera said. "That's what he's been going through the last week and a half."
Newton could have an additional target to throw to against the Saints. It's "more than likely" that the Panthers will activate wide receiver Damiere Byrd off injured reserve Friday. His speed and deep threat potential could play a part in Sunday's showdown.
"(He looks) good, fast. Very fast," Rivera said.
Linebacker Thomas Davis (hamstring), center Ryan Kalil (neck), running back Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) and linebacker Shaq Thompson (foot) were all limited in practice. Safety Mike Adams (knee), wide receiver Devin Funchess (toe) and cornerback Daryl Worley (foot) were all full participants after missing part or all of practice Wednesday.
View photos from the week of practice leading up to the Panthers game against the Saints.