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Carolina Panthers

Panthers Training Camp Observations: Day 11

Play of the Day

Wide receiver Kaelin Clay hasn't gotten much pub since he signed a free agent deal in April. But the guy can fly, and after flashing that speed multiple times during Sunday's practice, he did it again Monday. 

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Utah product made his most notable play in a two-minute drill, deftly adjusting to grab a 40-yard pass from Joe Webb between defenders Jeff Richards and L.J. McCray. And Clay wasn't done when he landed inside the 5-yard line. Realizing he hadn't been touched down, he then smartly lunged across the goal line. 

Injury Updates

—Quarterback Cam Newton was yet again held out of individual and team drills. But like Sunday, Newton made a handful of light tosses with head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion. Think of it as an outdoor version of the black and white “Newton Returns” video from back in June

It's highly likely the Panthers will hold Newton out of Wednesday's preseason opener against the Texans, but according to head coach Ron Rivera: "This is the third day he's thrown the ball, so I'm not necessarily concerned. What I'm being told is the doctors are pleased with where he is."

The season opener in San Francisco is still more than a month away. 34 days, to be exact. 

—Receiver Curtis Samuel, who's missed nearly two weeks with a strained hamstring, appeared to ramp up his work on the side. With Vermillion watching nearby, the second-round pick went through some start-and-stop runs. He then ran a handful of short routes after practice. 

—Defensive end Mario Addison was slow to get up after a play late in practice. Rivera said he thought Addison may have "bumped knees" with a teammate. 

—Safety Damian Parms showed up fully dressed to practice but spent most of the day on the exercise bike. 

—The full list of Monday's DNPs: Samuel, safety Dean Marlowe (leg), running back Cameron Artis-Payne (leg), cornerback Corn Elder (knee), defensive tackle Kyle Love (ankle), defensive tackle Toby Johnson (leg), Fred Ross (undisclosed), offensive tackle Blaine Clausell (undisclosed), offensive tackle Tyrus Thompson (undisclosed) and tight end Chris Manhertz (undisclosed). 

—Defensive end Julius Peppers took a third straight vet day, which isn't all that surprising. It's not like the 37-year-old needs to put in a whole bunch of training camp reps. "This is a veteran guy we're taking care of," Rivera said. "And I wouldn't call him off; I'd call them vet days with work. He's going up into the training room and weight room where they've got him doing extra stuff." 

Additional Practice Notes

—Sunday gave the Panthers their first truly hot practice of camp. On Monday, it was the first rain, but it was more like an occasional spit. 

—This was a fun reunion before practice. Former wide receiver coach Ricky Proehl, chatting with former teammates Peppers and Mike Rucker: 


—With just two practices to go before the Texans' game, players were out of pads and in lighter shells Monday. So most of the day's "highlights" came at less than full-go. 

—This grab by wideout Austin Duke against fellow undrafted rookie Cole Luke would be impressive at any speed, though: 

—With the first-team defense facing a scout team offense, cornerback James Bradberry deflected a Joe Webb pass intended for tight end Scott Simonson. Bradberry then tracked down the ball to add to his growing Spartanburg interception total. 

—Defensive tackle Vernon Butler yet again showed off his impressive wingspan, batting down a Garrett Gilbert pass at the line. 

—Gilbert was later intercepted in a two-minute drill by diving safety L.J. McCray, a Charlotte native who's seen a door open in front of him with Marlowe now dealing with another leg injury. "L.J.'s got some extended time and L.J. has shined," Rivera said. "He'll get his opportunity on Wednesday to show what he can do and I'm excited to watch him because he's a very physical football player."

—The defense capped off a dominant day when cornerback Zack Sanchez grabbed a Derek Anderson pass in the end zone. 

—The Panthers will likely see a good dose of Texans' first-round pick Deshaun Watson on Wednesday. Before leading Clemson to consecutive national title games, Watson finished third and second in the past two Heisman Trophy votes. Too bad for Watson that Rivera didn't have a say. "I'm a big fan of his," Carolina's coach said. "If I had a chance to have a Heisman vote, I'd have given it to him." 

—Let's finish these observations with one from senior writer Bryan Strickland: 

As an NFL quarterback for a decade, Bruce Gradkowski had – shall we say – a unique view of NFL centers. This week the recently retired Gradkowski has enjoyed a different view of his center of attention: his brother, Gino.

"It's definitely a different feel to be on the other side of the line," said Bruce Gradkowski, who decided to hang it up after spending the past four seasons as a Steelers backup. "Of course I still love the game, so I get the itch every time I'm around it, but I'm happy to get to root Gino on. Plus I've always had a special place in my heart for O-linemen because they do such a great job. They grind but never get the credit they deserve.

"Throughout my career I've never been able to follow him as much because I've always been in training camp, so I have some free time now that I'm done to come visit him and root the Panthers on this year."

Gino Gradkowski is in his second season with the Panthers, battling Tyler Larsen for the backup center role behind Pro Bowl starter Ryan Kalil.

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