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OTA Notebook: Dave Canales on joint practice with Jets, Legette's "tightness" and more

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CHARLOTTE— When NFL teams schedule joint practices, they often take into account innocuous factors. Friendships between head coaches, the chance to shake up training camp amidst preseason games, or just to escape weather in their respective cities.

The Panthers and Jets are scheduled to face each other in the second preseason game this coming season, at Bank of America Stadium on a to-be-determined date. So when the two head coaches—Dave Canales and Robert Saleh—announced on Wednesday that the two clubs would first take the field for a joint practice in Charlotte that week, it made sense. Especially considering the two were associates when first starting in the NFL, serving together as quality control assistants with the Seattle Seahawks at the beginning of their career.

"We have about a 13- or 14-year relationship, and we were able to practice with him last year in Tampa and so we just kind of talked about doing that again," Canales shared Wednesday.

But all of those reasons are secondary to why Canales wants his team to face off against Saleh's team.

"It's a great advantage for us because we play so much five-man front type of defense. And so (Saleh's) more the traditional 4-3 defense. We need that work," he explained.

Saleh's defense has ranked in the top five of the NFL's total defense the last two seasons. When he was in San Francisco, serving as defensive coordinator for the 49ers, Saleh's group was in the top five his final two seasons as DC as well, including playing a large role in the 49ers' road to an appearance in Super Bowl LIV. It's a proven scheme and personnel that Canales wants his young quarterback Bryce Youngand offense to see.

"They ask their defensive ends, their tackles to play aggressively at the line of scrimmage," Canales said. "And so that's a lot different than the way we play our two-gap systems where guys are kind of keeping their shoulders square and staying in the gaps. So we need the different part of that rush. It feels totally different to the offensive line, the running backs and the way we do that. So, I can't wait to do that."

The joint practice, details of which will come at a later date, will also allow the Panthers defense an opportunity face four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers as well, for the second straight summer.

Holding Xavier Legette out of practice "just a precaution"

The Panthers first round pick, receiver Xavier Legette, did not practice on Wednesday during the Panthers fifth OTA practice. It came after Legette left practice late on Tuesday, with what Canales attributed to a "tightness," saying that holding the South Carolina product out of practice on Wednesday was "just a precaution."

"What happens a lot with rookies is they come out here, it's a different level of work and it's not that they haven't practiced this long but everyone's fast, everyone's going, you know, and of course they're, with their wheels turning, there's a strain on the brain, there's also a strain on the body," Canales said.

"He just, he looked tight. And so yesterday, he just had a moment in practice where he started to slow down, the trainers would start talking to him immediately. It was like, all right, well, let's not throw him back out there. Let's not start a rebound. Let's be smart about it."

The rookie receiver was still on the field Wednesday, albeit in sneakers, and not participating. He was able to spend time with former Panther great, Steve Smith Sr., who attended the mid-week practice. The Panthers will have another practice on Friday, then another week of OTAs before mandatory minicamp. Assessing the calendar and where the staff would like rookies to be by training camp in July also played a role in the decision to sideline Legette on Wednesday.

"We just, as a precaution said, we need to pull back a little bit and just make sure we're smart with this at this point in our program and what we're doing, with our sights on training camp and all that," Canales said.

Rookie kicker Harrison Mevis continues to impress, with perfect days

Canales said Wednesday that he still has not had any communication with kicker Eddy Piñeiro through the voluntary part of the offseason.

With the incumbent's absence, Canales and staff have been able to use the time to evaluate rookie Harrison Mevis, from Missouri. Mevis was perfect on Wednesday, including hitting one that Canales estimates was 57 or 58-yards. To this point, Mevis has missed only two kicks in practice, according to Canales, and the misses came on separate days.

"I think he just likes you guys," Canales joked, about Mevis' perfect days when media are invited to practice.

But as for those two misses: "It was like one a day early on and it was like somewhere in the middle of his kicking sessions. He bounced back and then made the next couple and I don't want to discount the fact that his peers matter to him. He's a rookie. He comes out here and everybody's watching, the head coach is sitting there watching and he's done a great job just being able to handle that kind of pressure, and he looks calm, he looks focused, so he's doing a really good job."

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Each day of practice, no matter the length or involvement from special teams that day, Mevis can be seen roaming the sidelines the entire time, staying loose and ready, getting in practice kicks wherever there is space. On Wednesday, he decided to have fun with the interim time, teeing up the ball on the sideline and using the white mark as a guide for where he had to step. The goal? Simply to see if he could do it, and still make the kick.

He did, a 35-yarder, eliciting surprise even from Mevis himself, who admitted he'd never done it before. While the rugby angle kick isn't ever likely to arise in an NFL game, the make gave Canales excitement of what else his rookie kicking prospect could bring to the Panthers.

"I'm curious to see what other pitches he has in his arsenal," Canales said.

View photos of the Panthers' OTAs on Wednesday.

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