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Talking about practice: Day 15

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – There's been some debate as to whether cornerback Josh Norman had four or five interceptions by the end of Tuesday's practice.

When you've got that many in one session it's easy to lose count.

Regardless, it was quite a day for the rookie from Coastal Carolina who missed a large part of training camp with a hamstring injury.

"It felt great. A big relief," Norman said. "The hardest thing for me was sitting down on the sidelines, riding that bike every day, watching the guys go hard in practice. I just wanted to be out there."

Norman had several pass breakups in the red zone to go along with his countless interceptions on the day. The rookie seemingly had his hands on the ball every other play.

His teammates had their own explanations for Norman's remarkable success.

"Fresh legs, he didn't practice in a week, he's doing all this holding and grabbing," Norman said of the taunts he heard. "It's all in good competition. It's all in good fun."

Head coach Ron Rivera was happy to see Norman on the field and producing, but tempered the high praise, pointing out Norman's tendency to create contact downfield. Contact that might draw flags in games.

"He did some good things, but one of the things he's got to understand is that you can't touch guys downfield. This is the NFL; it isn't college football," Rivera said. "I don't want to take anything away from Josh, but he has to understand that when you get downfield, you have to be careful."

"It goes back to some things that we want to do on defense this year – play with vision, see things as they happen. … Josh plays with tremendous vision."

Rivera will be looking forward to seeing if Norman carries the confidence and swagger developed on the practice field into Friday's game against the Dolphins.


--Running back Tauren Poole suffered a concussion during Tuesday's practice and was carted off the field. Poole, an undrafted rookie from Tennessee, led the Panthers with 26 rushing yards in the preseason opener.

--Undrafted rookie wide receiver Rico Wallace (hamstring) returned to practice for the first time in two weeks, and linebacker Jon Beason (hamstring) showed some signs of possibly returning soon.

"He worked real hard on the side with (head athletic trainer) Ryan (Vermillion) and (strength and conditioning coach) Joe Kenn," Rivera said. "I was pleased to see him work real hard; now we'll see how he reacts tomorrow. If he doesn't complain, you know he's ready for the next step. If he does complain, you know you have to slow him down."

--Rivera said defensive end Eric Norwood is having an MRI on his knee and linebacker David Nixon is having an MRI on his elbow.

--Defensive tackle Andre Neblett (illness) missed a second straight practice, as did guard Roger Allen (foot) and safety Jonathan Nelson (hip). Running back Lyndon Rowells, cornerback Nate Ness and tight end Nelson Rosario remained out with concussions.


--The Panthers worked the two-minute drill with the ones vs. the ones, twos vs. twos and on down the line. Norman ended the first-team session with a leaping interception of a Cam Newton pass intended for tight end Greg Olsen.

The offense bounced back in the second-team matchup, with Derek Anderson hitting Louis Murphy for a 20-yard touchdown. The third-teamers, led by Jimmy Clausen, drove inside the 10-yard line before the defense forced a fourth down.

--At that point it was the kickers' turn. Justin Medlock went 4-for-4, including a 51-yard. Olindo Mare was 2-for-4, coming up short on his 51-yarder.

Medlock, whose short kickoff set the stage for a 90-yard kickoff return by the Houston Texans on Saturday, had a good practice kicking off, consistently sending them five yards deep into the end zone. Mare, who ranked second in the NFL with 53 touchbacks last season, has been more consistent in that area.

--In punting drills, veteran Nick Harris averaged about 48 yards a kick, and rookie Brad Nortman averaged about 45. Punting from the shadow of the end line, Harris got off two of 50-plus yards while Nortman was more in the 40-yard range from the same spot.

--While Norman was coming up with multiple interceptions, fellow cornerback Captain Munnerlyn was making nearly as many plays, minus the takeaways. Norman harassed wide receiver Steve Smith several times with tight coverage that prevented completions.

--There were a couple of other takeaways on note. Safety Haruki Nakamura and linebacker Jordan Senn combined on one, with Nakamura knocking the ball out of tight end Gary Barnidge's hands straight to Senn for an interception. Cornerback R.J. Stanford leaped to pick off a Clausen pass in front of receiver Darvin Adams.

--Quarterback Cam Newton hooked up with wide receiver Brandon LaFell open downfield on at least three occasions, and wideout Armanti Edwards made a nice snag of a laser from Newton.

NEXT UP: The Panthers will wrap up training camp on Wednesday with a 10:30 a.m. practice, then return to Charlotte to continue preparations for Friday's preseason game against the Miami Dolphins (8 p.m., Panthers TV).

Max Henson and Bryan Strickland contributed to this report.

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