Panthers OTA Observations: Day 9

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  • Following a light drizzle during the early portion of practice, a decent wind and temperatures in the low 60s made Wednesday's session feel fall-like.
  • Accompanying two grandsons, Hall of Fame coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs drove down from Lake Norman to check out practice. When Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman introduced himself, Gibbs laughed and said, "I know who you are! I read about you all the time in the paper." 
  • A year ago, converted safety Jeremy Cash appeared small for a linebacker. But the 6-foot Cash, who now weighs in at 230 after adding about 15 pounds this offseason, looks much more like a linebacker.
  • This was the most competitive of the Panthers' nine OTA sessions. The "spirits" started rising in the opening team drill when running back Cameron Artis-Payne bounced around the left side before sprinting down a wide-open sideline. 
  • Artis-Payne's dash elicited the now-familar "YEAHHH!" scream behind the play from quarterback/head cheerleader Cam Newton. But on the next play, when backup Derek Anderson was "sacked," linebacker Thomas Davis directed his own "YEAHHH!" scream toward Newton. 
  • No. 1 wasn't done talking, of course. When wide receiver Devin Funchess lined up across from cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, Newton noticed the mismatch: "You've got a baby on you, Fun." Funchess, who is seven inches taller than Munnerlyn, backed up Newton's words with a short reception from Anderson. 
  • Then, there was this sequence in 9-on-9s:

While Anderson is getting "sacked" again, defensive tackle Kyle Love yelled "YEAHHH!" as he jogged past Newton.

Davis to Newton: "I can't hear you."

Newton: "Oh, you're going to hear me this next play."

After Anderson dropped back and fired a deep ball to Funchess down the right sideline, Newton started sprinting down the field. But after Funchess ran past undrafted rookie Cole Luke, he couldn't reel in a diving attempt.

A somewhat dejected Newton to Davis: "I told you."

Davis responds: "No moral victories."

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

  • When Funchess later reached over cornerback Teddy Williams for a reception near the far sideline, Gettleman exclaimed, "There ya go, Funch!"
  • Undrafted receiver Austin Duke continues to make plays. On Wednesday, he again showcased his quickness when he caught a pass in the middle of the field before spinning past Zack Sanchez for what would have been a long gain. 
  • But Newton didn't have much to yell about during the final team periods. First, a Webb pass to wide receiver Mose Frazier intercepted by linebacker Ben Jacobs. A few minutes later, safety-turned-linebacker-turned-safety Brian Blechen picked off Anderson. On the next play, Sanchez ripped a pick away from Frazier, eliciting a huge cheer from the defense. The reeling offense then smartly called a run. 
  • Special teams ace/wideout Russell Shepard has been one of the standouts of OTAs. But shortly after he dropped a slant, Shepard had a longer pass knocked away by linebacker Shaq Thompson, who's made multiple plays downfield the past few weeks. 
  • Munnerlyn wrapped up practice with pass breakups on back-to-back plays, first against Fred Ross and then against Kaelin Clay.
  • James Bradberry, who fractured his wrist Monday, remained limited. On Tuesday, the second-year cornerback said he hoped to get his cast signed by . Not only did Bradberry land 59's signature, but he also got Newton's. "I may sell it once it comes off," Bradberry joked.
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