SPARTANBURG, S.C. – After two weeks of training camp, the Panthers got their first chance Friday to hit someone wearing a different color jersey.
Sunday evening back at training camp, the players responded well to getting back to the grind of going up against all-too familiar facemasks.
"We rode a little bit of a roller coaster getting back out here after the game, but we had some really good moments," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "We did a sudden change (in the practice plan), and the offense moved the ball down into scoring position. Red zone was pretty good. We worked on some blitzing in the red zone, and I thought they did a nice job of handling that stuff.
"It was good overall, but there are some things we've got to continue to work on and get better at."
One thing the Panthers need to do is get healthy, a common theme this time of year.
The journey back to health for fullback Michael Zordich will be a long one. Rivera confirmed after practice that Zordich tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Friday's 24-17 victory over the Chicago Bears. Rivera said Zordich, an undrafted rookie from Penn State, would be placed on injured reserve.
"It's unfortunate," Rivera said. "The young man was having a great camp."
Also, cornerback James Dockery, who recorded five tackles against the Bears, suffered a broken thumb at some point during the game.
"He's going to have thumb surgery tomorrow, and we'll see," Rivera said. "Hopefully there will just be a week or two where he's got to be out and hopefully he'll be back and ready to go. We can't wait to get him back.
"Dock had a very good game. A couple of DBs really stood out – real pleased with James Dockery, liked what Josh Norman did and thought Anderson Russell had a nice night."
Wide receivers Armanti Edwards (hamstring) and Joe Adams (calf) sat out practice, as did offensive tackle Bruce Campbell (shoulder). On the other hand, cornerbacks Josh Thomas (abductor muscle) and D.J. Moore (ankle) returned to action, as did guard Edmund Kugbila (hamstring) in a limited fashion.
"He got to do a little bit more, but then we took him back in for treatment," Rivera said of Kugbila. "You wanted him to be able to stay out the whole day, but unfortunately he didn't."
The Panthers will practice again Monday (2:30 p.m.) and Tuesday (9 a.m.) to wrap up training camp before returning to Charlotte to continue preparations for Thursday's game at the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It's not like we're ending camp in terms of ending practices. All we're going to do is just move practice to Charlotte," Rivera said. "It's important to make sure we have quality practices no matter where we are."
Safety Mike Mitchell is certainly taking that sentiment to heart.
"I have a buddy that was in special forces, and he used to always say that their motto was, 'I will not die today. Survive to the next meal,'" Mitchell said. "For me, I'm trying to make it to the next meeting, try to stay locked in every practice, every play and just go from there."