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Carolina Panthers

Notes: Panthers practice indoors

CHARLOTTE – For the first time this season, the Panthers practiced at the Charlotte Convention Center due to inclement weather.

Head coach Ron Rivera moved his team inside a ballroom for practice on Wednesday but doesn't think it will negatively impact Carolina's preparation for Sunday's game at the Atlanta Falcons.

"We talked about not letting it take away from our focus," Rivera said. "I thought the execution was good. I thought the mental aspect was very good."

In fact, he believes it may help their cause.

"We slowed the tempo down a little bit and gave these guys a little bit of a break," Rivera said. "We took advantage of it. I think it will actually be beneficial for us."

The team is off on Christmas Day, but Rivera said it won't be necessary to ramp up the workload for Friday's practice at this stage of the season.

"This is the time of year where it's about refining the game plan," Rivera said. "There are not a lot of new things put in. We are using things that we've had from Week 1. This is Week 17. We should be adept at our individual techniques, we should be adept at the group stuff."

INJURY UPDATE: The Panthers' injury report listed just two players on Wednesday. Linebacker A.J. Klein (ankle) was limited, and running back DeAngelo Williams (hand) was full.  

"We are very fortunate," Rivera said. "We are getting healthy at the right time. Hopefully, it pays dividends as we go forward."

PRO BOWL SUGGESTION: Rivera was excited to have tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Luke Kuechly selected to the Pro Bowl, but he was disappointed again that linebacker Thomas Davis was left off.

Unfortunately for Davis, it's an uphill battle for 4-3 outside linebackers to receive recognition when they are vying with 3-4 outside linebackers, who frequently rush the passer, for the same roster spots.

"It's a tough position to be voted in because so many people look at the stats as the true indicator to how good an outside linebacker is playing," Rivera said. "In the 3-4, the glamour positions are the outside linebackers that get to blitz probably half the time. In nickel situations, they put their hand down and rush the passer."

Rivera, a former linebacker himself, thinks 4-3 outside linebackers need a category all to themselves.

"I really think what they need to do is add another position to the Pro Bowl team, that being the WILL linebacker – an outside linebacker that plays in a 4-3 system," Rivera said. "They are not going to have double-digit sacks, but they'll be one of the top tacklers on your team. That's something that needs to be looked at, because we are passing up a whole group of football players. It's unfair to those guys."

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