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Carolina Panthers

Rivera likes reserved but still competitive practice

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – One day after the competitive spirit of training camp crossed a line and prompted head coach Ron Rivera to intervene, the players found a better balance between competition and comradery that pleased their coach.

"Made me feel a lot better," Rivera said after the next-to-last practice of training camp Monday. "Honestly, it was on them. They took it and handled it themselves.

"It got a little chippy at the very, very end, but they can't help themselves. They're going to find a way to chirp because that's who they are. They want to compete and want to stomp their feet and make some noise, so we let them."

The heat of the day may have contributed to the comparatively quiet nature of practice. Defensive end Charles Johnson bowed out early in the heat, and tight end Greg Olsen sat out a rare practice with back spasms that developed at the end of Sunday's practice. Rivera said it could have been brought on by the heat.

Olsen and cornerback Bene Benwikere were a part of Sunday's overly intense proceedings, and Benwikere brought the heat in his return to practice. He made the best play for the defense in 7-on-7 drills with a nice pass breakup downfield, and in a team period he dislodged the ball from rookie tight end Beau Sandland on a short reception.

A rookie on offense enjoyed a good day on a day when the defense installed some new schemes and seemed to have the upper hand. Wide receiver Keyarris Garrett made a couple of notable plays downfield.

"He's had a couple of really good days, and he played well the other night," Rivera said. "He's a young guy who is starting to string it together."


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