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Notes: Situating the safeties

CHARLOTTE – Safeties Quintin Mikell and Robert Lester continue to split reps opposite free safety Mike Mitchell, and head coach Ron Rivera said the split reps will likely persist against the Rams on Sunday.

"The nice thing is Mike Mitchell has worked with both those guys," Rivera said. "We feel pretty good about having those guys out there. They have some familiarity."

That familiarity with Mitchell gives Rivera confidence that chemistry won't be an issue.  

"I am not overly concerned (about the chemistry)," Rivera said. "Whether it's Quintin or it's Robert, we're going to have a good combination."

Mikell has offered teammates some insight on the Rams – the team he played for from 2011-12 – and stressed that he's not worried about who starts at strong safety for Sunday's game.

"I'm here to help in any way possible, and I told Robert that. I'm not here to take his spot," Mikell said. "If I'm in the game I am going to give it my best and play as hard as I can. That's the way I'm looking at it. I told him, 'If you're in there, ball out.' Let the coaches make the decisions there."

CAUTIOUS WITH EDWARDS: Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (hamstring) returned to practice for the first time since Week 2. He was limited, and the Panthers are remaining cautious.

"The biggest thing right now that we are trying to work through is his ability to burst," Rivera said. "We're trying to be really careful.

"He's come a long way, and he's pushing really well. But it's that ability as a three-technique to burst that you really need, and that's what we haven't seen right now."

Rivera said Edwards' status for Sunday will be determined after Friday's practice.

TAMPA BAY PREP: With the Panthers traveling to Tampa for Thursday Night Football next week, the coaching staff has already begun prepping for the Buccaneers.

"Everything is going to be condensed," Rivera said. "Some of the (position) coaches will probably take a look (at Tampa Bay film) tonight. Some will definitely take a look tomorrow afternoon and probably Saturday."

The coordinators are exempt from Buccaneers' prep to focus solely on the game plan for the Rams.  

"The coordinators probably won't do anything," Rivera said. "You don't want to really get into your thoughts in terms of game-planning. You don't want to mix them up."

Due to the condensed schedule, Rivera said the team won't review the Rams game on Monday and will instead move straight ahead to the Buccaneers.

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