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Notebook: Shaq Thompson working his way back

Shaq Thompson

CHARLOTTE — Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson is a bit of a minimalist when it comes to talking, especially about himself.

So as he works his way back from an offseason knee surgery, he's not spending a lot of time discussing it.

"Had a little procedure that needed to happen," Thompson said simply on Wednesday. "It was a rough one for me last year; most of y'all don't know I was playing through a lot of pain; it was bone on bone.

"But I'm here now, around my teammates, and happy to be out there."

Thompson missed three games with a foot issue early in the year, but came back to have one of his best seasons and was second on the team in tackles, with a couple of interceptions.

Now, he's working back in slowly, taking a few reps each day and building up to the regular season opener. As he goes, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said Thompson had pushed the margins a bit.

"He got reps yesterday; they wanted to give him four, I think they ended up giving him six or eight. Today I think he was supposed to get up to eight, and knowing Shaq, he probably stole up to 10," Rhule said with a grin. "He got run into yesterday; it was scary at first, a guy slid into him, but it was probably great for him that he has confidence.

"We have to be smart about how we re-introduce him, which is what we're doing, but I think Shaq's going to be just fine."

Thompson said he's mostly "knocking off some rust," and didn't offer any predictions about what his workload would be in the opener against the Browns on Sept. 11.

"Just really having confidence in my knee, honestly," he said. "Mentally, I've got that out of my head; now it's just physically it's just pushing off it and working on stuff that I need to, in order for me to keep going."

Terrace Marshall Jr.

— Speaking of comebacks, wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. was back on the practice field Wednesday, having alternated days this week (he worked Monday but didn't on Tuesday). Marshall said he was "feeling good, ready to go," as he deals with a lingering hamstring strain.

"Doing the best I can to get out there on a consistent basis, and that's what I'm doing," he said.

The 2021 second-round pick played in 13 games last year, but only had three catches over the last 11 weeks after suffering a concussion in Week 6 against the Vikings. He has dealt with injury issues throughout his college career and last season (he was very limited in the offseason last year), but he said he's not allowing himself to get frustrated.

"No, sir, I just control what I can control," he said. "Injuries are part of the game, so my job is to do what I can to get back out there and keep it going."

Rhule said the hope was to play Marshall Friday night, and he was encouraged by some deep patterns he ran in practice.

— Marshall wasn't the only pass target back on the field Wednesday.

Wide receivers Robbie Anderson and Andre Roberts were back on the field, along with tight end Ian Thomas.

Thomas has been sidelined since taking a shot in the ribs in Spartanburg. Tight end Stephen Sullivan was back Wednesday after missing Tuesday for personal reasons.

— Rhule said most of the starters would play into the second quarter against the Bills Friday night, giving quarterback Baker Mayfield his most extended time on the field this preseason (Mayfield played one long series in Washington and didn't play at all against the Patriots after a week of joint practice).

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