CHARLOTTE – Head coach Ron Rivera was back in his comfort zone Friday – on the practice fields at Bank of America Stadium with players eager to get to work for day one of the Panthers' rookie minicamp.
"It's a learning tempo right now," Rivera said. "We want to see where the guys are. We want to see if they retained what they learned this morning and are able to transfer it onto the practice field."
Rivera, of course, was particularly interested to see how the five members of the team's 2015 draft class would perform in their practice debuts. And while it's way too soon for any grand proclamations, Rivera was pleased with how the draftees approached the day.
"There's a lot of positive to be gained from the five (picks) we brought in," Rivera said. "There's a lot of adjustment that each of these guys will go through because of the types of players they are going to face. They have to adapt to the quickness and speed."
Linebackers Shaq Thompson and David Mayo flashed quickness and speed, and as a former linebacker, Rivera always pays close attention to that position group.
"I really like the movement," Rivera said. "(Shaq) has a quick initial first step. He moves very well laterally – as does David Mayo. Watching both those guys working in tandem was a nice thing. They have a good grasp."
But this weekend isn't just about the draft picks. Undrafted rookie free agents and tryout players are doing their best to make an impression, and there are spots to be had with Carolina currently carrying 86 players on its 90-man roster.
"Hopefully, we'll find about three or four other guys that we can add as we go forward," Rivera said. "We didn't sign all 90, so now we have an opportunity to bring extra guys in and, hopefully, (those extra spots) we'll come from this group of participants."
During the afternoon practice, Thomspon was limited after tweaking his hamstring and wide receiver Devin Funchess left the session early with cramps.