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Carolina Panthers

Notes: Panthers prepare for familiar faces


CHARLOTTE – The quietest year of safety Kurt Coleman's career came during his one season with Chip Kelly as his head coach, but Coleman's team certainly made a lot of noise that season.

Back in 2013, Coleman played primarily on special teams for a Philadelphia Eagles team that introduced Kelly's breakneck offensive approach to the NFL. Sunday, Coleman and the Panthers will face Kelly's new team, the San Francisco 49ers.

"Once that offense gets rolling, it really is a powerful machine to stop," Coleman said. "That's why it's important for us to be able to get off the field early and not allow them to get into a rhythm."

A lot is made of how the offensive pace that Kelly pushes can wear out opposing defenses, but there is a way to turn that on its ear. If Coleman and the Panthers defense can force three-and-outs, it could be Kelly's defense struggling to catch its breath.

"It can be a very quick three-and-out – literally 30 seconds of the clock and your defense is back out on the field," Coleman. "But they're conditioned to play 80 to 100 plays a game, so they're used to it."

The Panthers were able to accomplish that goal last year in a 27-16 victory over the Eagles after struggling with it the first time around in a 45-21 loss to Philadelphia in 2014.

"I'd kind of like to think we have (learned)," head coach Ron Rivera said. "We'll have to wait and see."

STEWART, MARLOWE ON THE MEND: For the second day in a row, both running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) and safety Dean Marlowe (hamstring) were listed on the injury report, but Rivera isn't too worried.

"As far as those guys are concerned, yeah they're going to be there," said Rivera of their expected status for Sunday's game. "We do this because we have to. For the most part, Jonathan did what he was supposed to do, as well as Dean. But, we have to list them, so that's where they belong."

Should Stewart be fully healed by game time, the decision will be an easy one for Rivera.

"With Jonathan, you don't want to rush him out there until he's ready because his effectiveness really can be diminished," Rivera said. "Having an 80 percent Jonathan out there isn't good for us. We want to make sure he's at 100 percent and ready to roll."

LEE FACES FORMER TEAM: Andy Lee has nothing but positive feelings towards Sunday's opponent, having served as San Francisco's punter for every game from 2004-14.

Lee also has to feel good about how things have started for him in Carolina.

The South Carolina native boomed a franchise-record punt of 76 yards in his debut last week in Denver. He recorded two longer kicks in San Francisco – one of 82 and one of 81 – but those benefited from a roll while the one last week was fielded in the air.

"When I hit it, I knew it was good," said Lee, who added the punt went about as far he can possibly kick a football. "I think people understand that you're not going to go out and hit 76-yard punts all the time – that's probably once a year.

"It was cool, but it's in the past now."

That also summarizes how Lee sees his stay in San Francisco. Selected by the 49ers in the sixth round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Lee was a staple – and a three-time Pro Bowler – before being traded first to Browns prior to the 2014 season and then to the Panthers late last month.

"It will always be a special place to me," Lee said of San Francisco. "The fans were great, the teammates were great, and the city was great. My time out there was great."

RIVERA ON KAEPERNICK: All eyes will be on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during Sunday's national anthem, when he and teammate Eric Reid are expected to continue to take a knee as their way of taking a stance regarding civil unrest.

Rivera, whose father served in the U.S. Army throughout his son's childhood, was asked his thoughts on the hot-button issue.

"I think a lot of people know and understand how I feel about it. When you grow up on a military base, you're taught to respect and love this country and the flag and what it stands for," Rivera said. "It's about my upbringing, about the way I see things and the way I believe things, but I also understand and believe that this country is based on specific freedoms."

Correspondent Connor Keith contributed to this report.

View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game against San Francisco.

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