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Rivera optimistic about Short's future with Panthers


CHARLOTTE – Upon arriving at training camp amid speculation about his contract situation, defensive tackle Kawann Short said he wouldn't allow such a thing to become a distraction.

And while the NFL is a business, it clearly has been business as usual for Short and for the Panthers over the last month.

"That has not been a distraction," head coach Ron Rivera told reporters Wednesday. "In fact, the first I've heard of it is you just bringing it up. It's been awhile."

And it could be awhile before Short – who is under contract for the upcoming season – and the Panthers talk business, but Rivera feels it is just a matter of time.

"Somewhere along the line, they'll get together, they'll figure it out. I believe they will," Rivera said. "He's too important a player for us, and K.K. likes where he is. We'll see how it all unfolds."

Last season, the 2013 second-round draft choice truly came into his own, tying for the league lead among defensive tackles and tying for eighth overall with 11.0 sacks. He's entering the final year of his standard four-year rookie contract, and the team doesn't hold the fifth-year option that it already exercised with fellow 2013 draft choice Star Lotulelei because that only exists for first-round selections.

Players sometimes put up career years during "contract years." Short might have a hard time topping his 2015 season, but there's little doubt he'll try – and not because of his contract situation.

"The young man shows up and plays," Rivera said. "It's going very well. He's done some really nice things, and not just with what you see in practice or games. Overall, he's really done some nice things."

View photos of practice from the third week of preseason.

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