CHARLOTTE – With Carolina's two-day rookie minicamp now complete, the Panthers have some decisions to make about the tryout players who participated.
There are currently five spots available on the 90-man roster, and some tryouts made a good impression. But the Panthers don't feel the need to reach that limit this weekend.
"You can go to 90 right away but then you have to cut somebody if you really like somebody from this tryout camp," head coach Ron Rivera said. "To a degree, we're trying to avoid that type of situation. There were a number of guys through the process that we did like. We'll sit and talk through it with the coaches and check medical histories. There are character things we have to check on, too. We'll check that the guys we like fit what we do and fit our culture."
On Duke tight end Braxton Deaver: "We liked what (Braxton) did. He assimilated nicely to our offense and seemed to understand and grip what we wanted to do mentally and did some good things athletically. He's going to be part of our discussion later today."
On 2015 practice squad defensive end Rakim Cox: "We really liked what we saw from Rakim. It goes back to what everybody saw last year in the preseason. He's explosive; he is quick off the ball, good hand usage. The thing about him, he just needs opportunities. We were able to keep him on the practice squad showing his growth. He was a consideration at one point at the end of the year of being activated. He's shown to us that he deserves the opportunity. We're excited for him and are looking forward to him coming out and competing in OTAs and minicamp."
Difference in wide receiver Damiere Byrd: "Probably about eight pounds. He'll love the fact that you guys think he looks bigger. He's got a lot of confidence right now and has done a nice job working hard for us during the workout and conditioning phase. We got a chance to watch him Tuesday – the first day we're allowed to come out and watch our players – and I thought he did a nice job there and a nice job today. One thing that was real interesting too, was his leadership which was really neat to see. Very rarely do you see a wide receiver step up like that."
On cornerback competition: "It's begun now. Once these guys start working next week with the vets, we'll get an opportunity to see them all together on Tuesday again. We'll come out and watch them. As we get to OTAs and minicamp, then we'll get to see the competition part of it.
"The hard part too is that we have to be careful with the way we practice because there are some rules that don't allow certain things. A big part of the techniques you get from corners being able to jam and you can't do that in OTAs and minicamp, so what we'll be looking for really is the skill sets: watching them backpedal, watching them flip their hips, watching them transition, plant and drive, those type of things, rather than watch the guys bump around."
On adding a free agent cornerback: "If we did do something it would be later on. Right now we're set. We're happy with what we've seen the last two practices. We got a chance to really watch those guys in individual drills and thought they did good things."
On players coming off shoulder surgeries: "It will be very limited. It's one of those things that you have to be careful with. If you are not paying attention, they will try to sneak in and get away with things. On Tuesday we had to slow Luke (Kuechly) down a little bit, he can't help himself. You know how Luke is, and it was the same thing with a couple of the other guys. Philly Brown was another guy who tried to get more involved than he should. We have to slow those guys down and make sure they are following the protocol in terms what they are allowed to do, can do and should do."
On defensive ends: "We feel good about the defensive end spot. There is no reason not to. If you go back and look at some of the games we played, we played a couple of games without our two veteran defensive ends out there and still won those football games. We had our young guys out there, and they played well for us. We had a game where we had (Ryan) Delaire, (Wes) Horton, Mario (Addison) and Kony (Ealy) -those were our four ends and we won that game, had four sacks in that game. We feel that we can be productive with whatever combination we put out there, and we look forward to having the whole unit out on the field working together once we get to the OTA minicamp phases.
"A couple of years ago we didn't have proven young guys. Kony had not proven he was capable; Mario was just developing into who he is now. Wes was a young guy learning and growing as well. The only constant we had was Charles (Johnson)."
View photos of 2016 rookies as they participate in drills on the second day of minicamp.