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Notebook: Receivers trending in the right direction

Terrace Marshall Jr.

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers kept seven wide receivers on their initial 53-man roster for some injury cover.

As soon as they did, it looked like they might not need that much depth.

The three wideouts who missed the final preseason game because of injuries were all back on the field in some capacity Tuesday.

It was a short and unpadded practice, but Terrace Marshall Jr. (back) was working quite a bit. Laviska Shenault Jr. (concussion protocol) was there in a red jersey and participating in the non-contact practice. DJ Chark Jr. (hamstring) spent most of the session inside the Atrium Health Dome working with the rehab group, but he walked out to the field with his helmet, which stood as progress.

"I know these guys are doing everything they can," Panthers head coach Frank Reich said.

They were all in a good mood, but none of them were smiling wider than Marshall. He got off to a slow start to his career here because of some lingering foot problems and missed seven games in his first two seasons. But he said those past problems were just that, in the past.

"My mind just went straight positive, you know, that I'll be OK in the end," Marshall said. "Things I've had in the past, and I've overcome, so why not do it again?

"There were times in my past that I've got injured, and I felt down on myself, but I had to pick myself up and just give it all to God, you know, so that just gave me that peace of mind to know that, you know, everything is in his hands. And, so I just, when I got hurt, I just instantly prayed about it and moved on from it and just rehabbed, and now I'm back, back out there."

Marshall said his goal remained to be available for the Atlanta game on Sept. 10, and Chark echoed that sentiment.

"As long as we don't have any setbacks or anything like that," Chark said with a nod when asked if he was targeting the opener. "But I also want to be smart, to play the long game. So right now, I'm on track; I'm doing pretty well. So long as you continue to progress that way, I don't see why not."

– During Tuesday's press conference, a reporter asked Reich about how the media hadn't gotten a good read on the defense through the preseason since the Panthers rested multiple starters. Reich gave a clever quip in reply.

"Good," he said to laughs from reporters. "Mission accomplished."

Reich went on to detail how players such as Brian Burns, Justin Houston, and Derrick Brown, who weren't featured in the preseason, should make their impact known starting Sept. 10.

"We'd like to think it's going to add a lot (to have them play)," Reich said. "Derrick Brown hasn't played. Justin Houston hasn't played. There's a lot of production right there. We think those guys will make a big impact."

– Reich said new receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette got a glowing review from Adam Thielen, who played with him at Minnesota in 2021.

"(I) was able to call Adam and say, 'Adam, tell me about this guy,'" Reich said. "So (I) got inside information from another player. That always is helpful. …

"Good route runner, good hands, smart, be able to play at all three positions. You guys will see – very good personality. Apparently he's got a pretty exuberant personality, which is good. We like that energy. He has good energy."

– Tuesday's practice was one of the stranger ones for those who have been watching throughout training camp, as the field once flooded with more than 90 players dwindled to 50-something on cut day.

The Panthers will be able to sign 16 more to their practice squad tomorrow, and Reich mentioned that many of those who were cut Tuesday will end up back there.

"A lot of the guys that were let go today are going to be back here on our practice squad; a lot of the guys that were let go today are going to end up starting games for us this year – a lot or however many," Reich said. "I mean, it's just going to happen every year in the NFL, because of injuries, it's a long season. And we're going to be excited about it. 

"We look at it, like when we get our 53, plus the 16. I know there's that distinction. That pay's a little different and all that stuff. But as far as the coaches are concerned, this is our squad. The 53 and 16, it's all one squad. So that's why, really tomorrow, the work will be done."

Check out headshots and action photos of the Panthers' initial 53-man roster this season.

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