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Talking about practice: Day 10

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Practice has a different feel to it when the ball is spotted on the goal line.

Tuesday, the Panthers felt the full force of that very scenario, as the team completed several reps just outside the end zone.

"Goal line is a mindset. It's an attitude situation," tight end Ben Hartsock said. "We really wanted to come out and be strong today."

Running back Jonathan Stewart plowed his way through for two scores to start the goal line portion of practice, but the defense responded.

First, defensive tackle Frank Kearse shot into the backfield to stop running back Mike Tolbert before he could get started. And on the next play, linebacker Luke Kuechly stood up Tolbert just before he reached the goal line – a play that got all of his defensive teammates excited.

"It's downhill football," Kuechly said. "You can't be afraid to stick your head in there."

Head coach Ron Rivera applauded his team's effort in the trenches.

"I loved the tempo," Rivera said. "The defensive front looked solid and stout. We had a number of guys step through and make some plays."


Running back DeAngelo Williams was absent from practice to attend a funeral and will be back at practice on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Steve Smith was taken out off the field midway through the session after suffering a knee bruise.

"He's fine," Rivera said. "He got a little contusion, so rather than let it get swollen up, we put a little ice on it right away and they (trainers) decided to shut him down. As long as there's no swelling or cause for concern, he should be out there tomorrow."

Offensive linemen Geoff Hangartner, Mike Pollak, Bryant Browning and Lee Ziemba missed practice. Hangartner was given a veteran day off, and Pollak was given a day to rest a sore shoulder.

Linebacker Thomas Davis, wide receivers Rico Wallace and Hubert Anyiam, and cornerbacks Brandon Hogan and Josh Norman did not participate.

Rivera said Norman is making progress and that the rookie could return in time for the preseason opener Saturday.

"Hopefully (he'll practice) in the next day or two," Rivera said. "We'd love to get him in the game. That's what our hope is."

Lastly, after missing several practices, wide receiver Lamont Bryant returned to action.


Attendance at Panthers' training camp has hit an all-time high this year.

Last season, 34,229 fans attended training camp. That number has already been surpassed in 2012, and there are still six practices remaining.

"We appreciate the tremendous support from our fans at training camp, especially the last two years when we have set attendance records," said Carolina Panthers President Danny Morrison. "This year's attendance speaks to the excitement surrounding the team."

In one year, there's been a 40 percent increase in attendance over the first seven practices.

The same strong support was evident this past Saturday at Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium where 20,070 fans attended practice – the most at the event since 1996.





--Quarterback Cam Newton showed off his arm strength and accuracy with a perfect toss to tight end Greg Olsen – and he threw off his back foot. In the face of pressure, Newton stepped back and effortlessly flicked the ball 25 yards down the left side. It landed right over Olsen's shoulder and into his hands for the score.

--The first-team offense marched down the field for a touchdown during its one and only two-minute drill. With the ball spotted on the offense's own 25-yard line, 1:45 on the clock and two timeouts remaining, Newton led an eight-play scoring drive, completing 5-of-8 pass attempts. He connected with wideout Louis Murphy for a touchdown down the left sideline with time to spare.

--The second-team offense produced a scoring drive in their lone two-minute attempt but had to settle for a field goal. Quarterback Derek Anderson completed 5-of-6 passes before spiking the ball with three seconds remaining to set up an Olindo Mare field goal.

--The wide receivers had success running 15-yard fade routes during one-on-one drills. Seyi Ajirotutu beat cornerback Nate Ness in the back corner of the end zone, and Armanti Edwards fought off cornerback Josh Thomas for a score in the same location shortly after. Later in red zone team drills, Ajirotutu battled Thomas on a fade route and won possession of the ball for another touchdown grab.

--Kuechly reeled in an interception when Newton overthrew Olsen on the left side of the end zone during team drills. Safety Sherrod Martin picked off another Newton overthrow later in the session when a pass was out of Ajirotutu's reach.


--The first team offensive line had some fun at the start of practice as they synchronized a series of grunts during a fire-off-the-snap drill. For the grand finale, the O-line shouted, "Let's do this!" in unison as the ball was snapped. Onlookers couldn't help but chuckle.

-- Edwards collected several catches over the middle during the session and proved to be sure-handed throughout the day. Rivera said he's anxious to see if that translates to the field when the preseason games begin.

"We're starting to see what you're looking for in terms of progress," Rivera said. "As we start playing the games, we've got to see certain things from Armanti. We want to see him make plays in traffic, we want to see him make plays when he's getting hit. He's done a nice job of that so far."

--When practice concluded, the team got together and sang happy birthday to offensive quality control coach Scott Turner, who turned 30.

NEXT UP: The Panthers will continue on a revised schedule through the remainder of training camp.

Wednesday's practice has been moved up and will now run from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The team will practice at the same time on August 9.

Practice will start at 2:45 p.m. on August 10 and at 3:00 p.m. on August 13. Both sessions will end at 5 p.m.

The final two practices -- August 14 and 15 -- will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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