CHARLOTTE – Head coach Ron Rivera well remembers what he called "position catastrophes" midway through last season, when a series of injuries at running back and along the offensive line proved too much for the Panthers to handle for a few weeks.
The Panthers have had their share of injuries so far this season as well but have been better able to handle them, as evidenced by their 7-0 record heading into Sunday's showdown with the Green Bay Packers.
"We're very fortunate to have some pretty strong backups at several positions," Rivera said. "You don't want to have to go any deeper than we are right now, but for the most part we feel very good about what we've done.
"(General manager) Dave (Gettleman) and his guys have brought in the right kind of players for us, and our coaches have coached them up."
The offensive line is again being beset by injuries, but the Panthers handled it last time out against the Colts and could have to do the same Sunday. Fernando Velasco filled in for four-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil and held his own in Monday's victory over Indianapolis, and Amini Silatolu and Chris Scott filled in admirably when left guard Andrew Norwell went down early with a hamstring injury.
The Panthers returned to the practice Wednesday without either Kalil or Norwell. Kalil was on the field, with a boot on his injured ankle, but didn't participate in the light practice. Norwell stayed inside to rehab a hamstring injury suffered against the Colts.
"He worked with the trainers inside," Rivera said, "which is usually never a good indication."
There were more positive signs on the defensive side of the ball, with rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson – out the last two games with a knee injury – fully participating in practice.
"It was good to see him out there, moving around and loosening himself up," Rivera said. "We'll see. He had a good day, though. A lot will be dictated by how he feels tomorrow."
Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (ankle) and defensive end Mario Addison (shoulder) were limited participants - a sign of progress coming offf a two-game absence for Edwards and one game for Addison.
Cornerback Josh Norman was sent home to recuperate from an illness.
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game versus the Packers.