SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson is on track to make his preseason debut Saturday night against the Miami Dolphins.
The first-round draft pick, who has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, has practiced the past two days and says he'll continue to do so when the Panthers and Dolphins hold joint sessions Wednesday and Thursday.
"It just feels good to be back with the team," Thompson said. "They've been really taking care of me and treating me well with the hamstring, making sure I get limited reps so I don't overdo it. But it feels good to back with the team and fly around."
Thompson has gotten extended work with the first-team defense as the Panthers continue figuring out how best to utilize the rookie's talents. But first and foremost, he must get the necessary reps to develop comfort and understanding within the scheme.
"Just knowing my assignment and getting lined up – that's the biggest thing," Thompson said. "I need to keep getting in the playbook and working on my craft."
On Tuesday, Thompson was once again asked about his interest in playing running back at some point during his NFL career. Once again, Thompson stated that neither he, nor the Panthers, are interested in that idea.
Thompson, who played linebacker, safety and running back in college, learned that he prefers delivering hits, not taking them.
"It's different to get hit – I'll tell you that," he said. "I got hit a couple times, and I'm like, 'Geez.' I know what side I want to play."