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Stewart, Tolbert Banged Up

BACKS BANGED UP: Running back Jonathan Stewart (tibia) and fullback Mike Tolbert (groin) missed practice again on Thursday. Is head coach Ron Rivera expecting to have them available for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

"Maybe. We'll see," Rivera said.

Fozzy Whittaker and rookies Cameron Artis-Payne and Brandon Wegher have been splitting the reps in practice.

"I like what we have. I like our young guys," Rivera said. "We'll see how everybody is come Saturday morning and we'll go from there."

PERSONAL DAY FOR NORMAN: Cornerback Josh Norman was not at practice Wednesday for personal reasons.

"I just had to take care of what I had to take care of," Norman said. "Nothing serious at all. I'm excited to be back."

When he arrived later in the afternoon to watch film and continue preparations for Tampa Bay, he was told he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month.

After becoming the first defensive back in Panthers history to claim the award, head coach Ron Rivera was asked if Norman had become an elite cornerback. His response?

"I think he's on his way there, I do," Rivera said. "He's headed in that direction. I think he still has room to grow. He's still a young football player and this is his opportunity. He's grasping it and doing a great job with it."

KUECHLY REMAINS OUT: Luke Kuechly did not make an appearance on the practice field Wednesday. The star linebacker has not practiced since suffering a concussion during the Week 1 victory at Jacksonville.

"Still in the protocol," Rivera said.

Rivera said the Panthers are planning to play without Kuechly for the third consecutive game.

SILATOLU SIDELINED: Offensive lineman Amini Silatolu was added to the injury report after suffering an ankle injury during practice.

"He started practicing and it got a little sore," Rivera said. "So they brought him in and checked it out."

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