SPARTANBURG, S.C. – First-year Panthers wide receiver coach Tyke Tolbert made it crystal clear Sunday that the competition for snaps opposite Steve Smith remains wide open.
"Contrary to what's been said, (Brandon) LaFell, D.J. (Dwayne Jarrett), Kenny (Moore) and Wallace (Wright) have all split the reps with the ones and the twos the whole camp," Tolbert said. "They've all done a really good job.
"It's up to us – and we have three preseason games left – to figure out who is going to be the next guy to step up and fill that role. It may be by committee, you never know."
In individual drills with his wide receivers, Tolbert splits the reps equally as well, while also giving his arm quite a workout.
First, the receivers take turns working on getting past a defender who presses them at the line of scrimmage. With a fellow wideout portraying a defensive back, a receiver uses his inside arm to get clear of the defender, then catches a pass hurled by Tolbert, who throws all the passes during the drills.
Next, the receivers spend a significant amount of time working on a couple of routes. First, they work on a combination stutter/comeback route on the outside. Then they work on getting upfield from the slot and using their head and eyes to get a defender to commit to an inside throw before cutting outside.
The quarterbacks then team up with the receivers before the session is through, warming up with some quick slants before working on a deep sideline route and finally a fade route – all while Tolbert rests his arm after throwing 40-plus passes.
INJURY UPDATE: The line for wide receiver drills was a little longer Sunday with the return of Trent Guy, who had missed more than 10 days of camp with a hamstring injury.
Smith still isn't back in the mix physically from his broken arm, but he's still making his presence felt.
"He's in the meeting on time, asking good questions, working with the trainers, so he's doing everything that's needs to be done up to this point," Tolbert said. "When he gets back, he'll jump right back in and, hopefully, he can get back to where he left off after OTAs."
EDWARDS UPDATE: Tolbert said that rookie Armanti Edwards is steadily progressing through the lengthy learning curve he faces as he continues to learn a new position.
"Overall, he has a long way to go but it seems he's getting more comfortable and doing less thinking and just playing," Tolbert said. "Everything he's doing, I have to remind myself it's his first time doing.
"It's a process. He asks smart, legitimate questions. He's been grasping what I've been teaching him, so I'm pleased with his overall progress."
PAIR OF PRACTICES: The Panthers have just four more practices left before they break their three-week camp, including two Monday.
The Panthers will practice at 9 a.m., and have an earlier-than-usual second practice, at 3 p.m. on Snyder Field. As always, both practices are open to the public.