SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Panthers reached one of training camp's milestone moments Sunday when they practiced in pads for the first time.
The defense in particular made the most of the moment.
"It was a great day for us on defense," assistant head coach Steve Wilks said.
Wilks was in the last of two days filling in while head coach Ron Rivera attended his brother's funeral, and Carolina's secondary coach couldn't help but notice what his unit was able to accomplish in pads after the offense more often held the upper hand without pads.
"The biggest thing we always emphasize is not giving up the big play, and we didn't today," Wilks said. "They tried to test us deep at times, and our cornerbacks were in great position. The energy was there. The guys were running to the football. We probably had six or seven caused fumbles."
Wilks said he was pleased with the tempo and sense of urgency on both sides of the ball, and Panthers players were pleased as well, finally getting to deliver some hits after an offseason devoid of contract per NFL rules.
"It was awesome," offensive tackle Mike Remmers said. "When you're just in shells and helmets like we were at OTAs, that helps you a lot when it comes to getting the plays down.
"But a lot of stuff changes when you put the shoulder pads on and you're really hitting people and are a lot more physical. It reminds me of all the good times we've had, of our games where you just go out and play."
Not everyone got to enjoy the padded practice. Cornerback Chris Houston was given the day off to heal a toe injury, and cornerback Bene Benwikere (hamstring) and defensive tackle Kawann Short (back) continued to miss practice.
View the top photos from the third practice of training camp at Wofford College.