CHARLOTTE – On Tuesday, the NFL announced that practice squads will be increased from eight players to 10 for the 2014 and 2015 season. Practice squads were last increased in 2004, when they grew from five players to eight.
Head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman approved the league's decision to expand.
"I love it. I really do," Rivera said. "You can always use extra players. And it also bodes well for your future, in terms of developing guys. I think it's a plus. More guys get opportunities, more guys get chances to play. That's what you want. It's a great step."
Said Gettleman: "From a player development standpoint it's a plus, most definitely. This is competitive, and there are some guys that you have to let go that you don't want to. And (the expansion) is definitely a positive move for the players; it keeps them in the game."
Tuesday's practice was delayed for about 45 minutes due to heavy rain, but the Panthers returned to the field and tacked on two extra sessions to take advantage of time in the humidity.
"We'll make the best of it," Rivera said.
Tight end Greg Olsen, who missed Sunday's preseason game with a calf injury, and wide receiver Tavarres King, who came up limping against the Chiefs, partook in practice. So too did running back Darrin Reaves and Mike McNeill, who had been out with knee injuries.
Defensive end Charles Johnson (hamstring), guard Trai Turner (groin), offensive tackle Nate Chandler (knee) and linebacker Chase Blackburn (back) did not practice.
Rivera reiterated that he's not overly concerned about Blackburn's back issue, and the training staff will see how he feels Wednesday.
As for safety Roman Harper, who continues to sit out with a toe injury, Rivera is confident the veteran will be ready to play despite missing so much time.
"I think he's going to be fine," Rivera said. "Last year, we brought a guy in off the street in a week – Quintin Mikell was ready to go. I see Roman Harper in the same vein. He's a veteran guy who knows a lot of football. I think he's going to be OK. And the thing he has over Quintin is he was here for OTAs and minicamp."