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Panthers OTA Observations: Day 4

  • Linebacker Luke Kuechly partook in team drills for the first time after being held out of those periods as a precaution last week. Kuechly had been experiencing some lower back tightness, but he was flying around making plays on the ball Tuesday.

"Today he brought a lot of juice," linebacker Shaq Thompson said. "He made a lot of great plays, as Luke Kuechly does. It's good to have him back."

  • Rookie wide receiver Curtis Samuel participated in his first OTA session Tuesday after missing the first week for a family matter. Samuel got off to a great start, making a pair of nifty catches away from his body during an individual drill. As expected for a newcomer, he was rotated in during team periods and spent a lot of time chatting with assistant wide receivers coach Jerricho Cotchery.
  • Wide receiver Devin Funchess was back in action after rolling his ankle last week. Funchess had a strong day, making several tough grabs and finding the end zone on a crisp slant pattern in front of safety Mike Adams, who jokingly told Funchess it was "all luck" after practice.

"Everything is good. I got a little dinged up, but I heal fast," Funchess said. "It's good to go against some competition and get after it."

  • Undrafted rookie wide receiver Austin Duke had arguably the play of the day, hauling in deep ball down the sideline from quarterback Joe Webb, much to the delight of quarterback Cam Newton. Duke also earned praise from head coach Ron Rivera for an effective block to spring a big gain on an end-around. "That's my job," Duke said. "That's what they're expecting me to do."
  • Contact is not allowed during this phase of the offseason, but cornerback Captain Munnerlyn was in perfect position to lay a big hit on running back Fozzy Whittaker on a check-down pass. For the time being, it's those kind of anticipation plays that get the defensive coaches excited.
  • Undrafted rookie linebacker Ben Boulware is slowly getting more opportunities in team drills, and he's taking command of the huddle when he's out there. This isn't a shocking development considering the leadership and moxie he displayed at Clemson.
  • Rookie kicker Harrison Butker easily banged through a 60-yard field goal attempt while the specialists worked on the side field. He seems to be adjusting well to the bigger ball at the pro level.
  • Guard Trai Turner was a late arrival at practice after having an issue with his flight into Charlotte. Rivera joked that Turner was "in a panic" despite the fact these sessions are voluntary.
  • Defensive end Julius Peppers worked out inside. Rivera said they're just being careful with the 16-year veteran. "We want to be smart. If he comes in and says he's a little sore we're not going to put him out there."
  • Wide receiver Charles Johnson continues to work on the side. He has not yet practiced during OTAs.

View photos from the second week of Carolina's organized team activities.

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