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Notebook: Sam Darnold not ready for contact yet

Sam Darnold

CHARLOTTE — While quarterback Sam Darnold was back on the practice field for the first time in over a month Wednesday, it's unclear when, or if, he'll be back in a game.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said he was encouraged that Darnold was moving around and throwing after being designated to return from IR earlier in the day, but didn't have a firm timetable on what will come next.

Darnold started the first nine games this year, and went on injured reserve in Week 10 with a shoulder injury. During the portion of practice open to the media, he did some throwing and individual drills, but he hasn't been cleared for contact yet.

"He's cleared, but he's not cleared to play," Rhule said. "I'm not sure when that will be. He's good enough to throw and move around, but he can't take contact yet. So that will come down to a CT scan, probably in the coming weeks. So he's still got a little ways."

Asked later in his press conference if he thought it was important to see Darnold on the field again this year, Rhule said he wasn't sure when that might happen.

"I don't even know if he'll be back," Rhule said. "It's good for Sam to start to get out there and practice with his teammates and do some drills, and all that but that's so far down the line in terms of getting cleared. So much will happen between now and then."

The plan remains to start Cam Newton, and to have backup P.J. Walker ready to play some role as well.

— The Panthers have had to scramble to keep offensive linemen on the field together this year, but had an unusual sight Wednesday in practice.

All 10 of the linemen on the active roster were on the practice field at the same time.

With guards John Miller and Michael Jordan back from injuries (Jordan was listed as limited on the injury report), the Panthers had the full complement available for a change.

They've started nine different groups of linemen in the first 13 games.

If Jordan and Miller return to the starting lineup, and left tackle Cameron Erving stays in, it would mark the 10th unique combination this season.

— Rhule sounded hopeful that wide receiver DJ Moore would be able to play this week.

He was limited in practice with a hamstring injury.

"DJ is day-to-day," Rhule said. "I would expect we'd have a chance to have him play."

View photos from Carolina's practice on Wednesday as they prepare to travel to Buffalo.

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