OTA Observations: Splash plays from Kuechly and Samuel

-Cam Newton was absent Tuesday as the Panthers resumed organized team activities, but it’s no reason to be alarmed. Head coach Ron Rivera said it was just a personal day for the star quarterback.

-Tight end Ian Thomas and wide receiver Torrey Smith continue to work off to the side. Rookie outside linebacker Christian Miller (undisclosed) was also working off to the side Tuesday.

-Tuesday’s practice was a hot one. Charlotte has been experiencing a serious heat wave over the last week or so, and even a morning session with an 8:30 start time felt steamy. “This feels like something I don’t want to say,” linebacker Luke Kuechly remarked. “Starts with ‘S’ and ends with ‘Burg.’”

-General manager Marty Hurney was watching practice from the sideline, his first chance to observe the team after attending BLESTO meetings last week. He spent a good chunk of time chatting with owner David Tepper.

-Daryl Williams isn’t yet participating in team drills, but he was lined up at left tackle for a few installation reps. Not all that surprising with the way offensive line coach John Matsko likes to cross-train his players.

-Kuechly started the team period with a bang. The All-Pro linebacker picked off a pass from Kyle Allen over the middle intended for Curtis Samuel Samuel and took it to the house. Kuechly later nabbed a second interception, this time corralling a screen pass that wide receiver DJ Moore bobbled.

-The play of the day came courtesy of Samuel, who got past cornerback Kevon Seymour and dove for a spectacular catch on a beautiful deep ball from Allen, whose deep throws have been on point. Samuel was slow to get up after getting the wind knocked out of him, but teammates loved the effort – and the execution. “That’s one hell of a catch,” running back Christian McCaffrey said aloud. “And a great ball.” Rivera loved the deep connection but didn't love seeing his young playmaker get up slowly. "We want to be careful," Rivera said.

-First-round pick Brian Burns was all over a reverse to Samuel, stopping the play behind the line. Good to see the young edge rusher hold his ground and not get fooled. Burns later showed great pursuit chasing down Moore after the wide receiver caught a short pass and was weaving his way into the secondary.

-With veteran tight end Greg Olsen taking it easy and Thomas still rehabbing a leg injury, tight end Temarrick Hemingway is getting a lot of opportunities. And he’s earning them. The recent waiver claim made a number of catches over the middle. It wasn’t all perfect, as he had a frustrating drop, but overall he’s been pretty impressive.

-The Panthers hosted a Make-A-Wish recipient Tuesday – 11-year-old Peyton Raper, who is battling Burkitt’s lymphoma. Peyton’s favorite player is McCaffrey, and the star running back was happy to show him the ropes at practice.

View all the photos from Tuesday's OTA practice session.

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