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Panthers OTA Observations: Day 7

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–Right guard Trai Turner spent another day working on the side with trainers. The left knee Turner injured midway through last season is “just a little sore,” according to head coach Ron Rivera, who added, “We just want to be smart because these are OTAs. We don't want to inflame anything.” 

Amini Silatolu filled in for Turner on the right side while Taylor Moton spent the day at left guard. 

–If Moton wins the opening at left guard, the Panthers will need someone to take over the role he played as an extra tackle in the jumbo package. On Monday, that was Blaine Clausell.  

–While the big guys worked on situational stuff near the goal line, wide receivers and cornerbacks broke off to the opposite side of the field. No quarterbacks, no balls in the air. The wideouts worked on releases while the corners focused on pressing at the line. Veterans Torrey Smith and Devin Funchess helped play coach, offering tips to rookie Donte Jackson. Funchess did the same with Jamaal Jones, and in another coaching moment told Cole Luke, “Our job is to make you uncomfortable. That’s the job of a wide receiver.” That’s exactly what Damiere Byrd did, eliciting “oohs” after deeking out Lorenzo Doss. Even secondary coach Jeff Imamura was impressed. “That was nice,” he told Byrd. 

–Doss bounced back in team drills, picking off a Garrett Gilbert pass intended for Curtis Samuel. It’s the third straight practice Doss has had a pick. 

–First-round wideout DJ Moore also played defensive back – for a moment. He broke up an underthrown ball from Cam Newton that James Bradberry had a bead on down the right sideline. 

–Moore had one of the nicer catches of the day, going to the ground to snag a lob inside the goal line from Gilbert. “Hey 12, nice catch,” said offensive coordinator Norv Turner, evoking memories of March

–A few other notable moments from that same red zone drill: 

    The period started with a Newton quick slant to tight end Greg Olsen, who worked himself open against Kevon Seymour. 

    Newton later waltzed toward the left side of the end zone on a naked bootleg, gently placing the ball just inside the goal line.

    Barner, who had a drop in the opening team period, made up for that by hauling in a juggling catch as he fell to the turf. 

–When folks talk about Norv Turner’s track record, most mention the quarterbacks he’s helped. But guys like Michael Irvin, Vincent Jackson, Josh Gordon would likely say he’s pretty good for wideouts, too. “I think [our] routes are a lot more precise,” Rivera said of Turner, who broke into the NFL as the Rams wide receivers coach in 1985. “I think that's exactly what you're looking for is to see that they're running the routes the way they need to be run. Are they as precise as they need to be? Are they run at the right depth? Are there cuts where they need to be cut? That's the important thing that he does is make sure everybody understands that if you're where you need to be and you're open, the quarterback will find you and get you the ball.”

–There was a big group returning kicks: Moore, Byrd, Samuel, Jackson, Barner and Christian McCaffrey

–The day’s only absence was kicker Graham Gano, who was excused. So punter Michael Palardy got in some kicks and looked solid knocking off the rust. Palardy, who kicked and punted throughout his four seasons at Tennessee, nailed a 60-yarder that would’ve been good from at least 67. “I’ve still got it in the tank,” Palardy proclaimed. “Not a game situation, but I’ve still got it in the tank.” Afterward, Rivera said: “He's a heck of an athlete. Just in case anything ever happened, we'd feel comfortable about having him kick. And on the inverse, we also feel if we ever had to have Graham punt that he'd be able to punt the ball well for us.” Which Gano did have to do when Andy Lee injured his hamstring ahead of his first punt against the Chiefs in 2016.  

–A few reminders from Rivera that much of what’s seen during OTAs is only a very small part that goes into deciding position battles and roster spots:   

    –On the left guard opening: “We’re not in pads yet. So once we’re in pads, we’ll get a better feel.” 

    –On free agent addition Da’Norris Searcy sliding into a starting role at free safety: “We’ll see though, because we’re not in pads.” 

    –On fourth-round defensive end Marquis Haynes: “I think he's a young man that's well on his way into fitting into what we do. Again, we'll see. Once we get into pads, you'll have a better feel.”

–Jennifer King, who coached the Johnson & Wales women’s basketball team to the USCAA Division II National Championship this spring, is soaking in some knowledge as a coaching intern through next week’s minicamp. King is also a five-time All-American for the Carolina Phoenix women’s tackle football team.

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