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Training Camp Observations: Day 11

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Tuesday’s training camp practice amounted to what would be a Friday practice during the regular season. The session was almost entirely focused on preparations for the preseason opener at Buffalo.

As expected, quarterback Cam Newton will play a series – maybe two – Thursday night.

“If we can get (Cam) a really nice series of nine or ten reps, I’ll take him out and put Garrett (Gilbert) in because Garrett will be next up,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ll get Garrett in, and hopefully with some of the starters in there, so he can mix with those guys, and it will also give us a chance to get to Taylor (Heinecke) sooner.”

The majority of Tuesday’s team sessions were “show” periods for either the offense or defense – a chance for each unit to run their plays with only minor resistance from the opposing side.

“Give a look,” assistant secondary coach Jeff Imamura told the defensive backs on the sideline, “but still play your technique.”

Although those periods can be termed “half-speed,” leaders on the defensive side set an example by sprinting to the sideline when the backups subbed in. It may seem like a little thing, but when guys like linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive tackle Kawann Short are busting their butts in that setting, it sets an example that resonates.

Kuechly even gave veteran linebacker Thomas Davis a polite reminder to pick up the pace.

Here are some other notes from the session:

- Left guard Amini Silatolu left practice early with a left leg injury. Rivera said Silatolu’s leg is “sore” and further examination would be done in Charlotte. Undrafted rookie Brendan Mahon stepped in with the starters following Silatolu’s departure and would start Thursday if Silatolu can't play. Here's more on Mahon.

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- Punter Michael Palardy, who missed three practices while his wife was in labor, returned on Tuesday after his son Knox finally entered the world on Sunday.

“A whirlwind of emotions,” Palardy said. “So much joy that our son is here and my wife pushed through it. The flip side is it took a little bit longer than we had anticipated. It’s hard to watch your wife go through so much pain and discomfort and not really be able to do much but be there for support.

“But looking back on it, everyone is healthy and I couldn’t really ask for anything more.”

Knox, which is a perfect name for a boy whose father went to the University of Tennessee, arrived just in time to keep kicker Graham Gano from having to take care of the punting duties in Buffalo.

“He did him a solid,” Palardy said with a laugh.

- There was excitement at the very end of practice, as the final plays of a “move the ball” drill resulted in impressive interceptions.

First, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn took wide receiver Jarius Wright down the seam and reached out to pick off Newton’s pass in the end zone.

Next, with Newton struggling to find an open target and ultimately forcing a pass to the end zone, linebacker Shaq Thompson took advantage, rising up to snare the ball out of the air with one hand.

The defense and Rivera were pretty pumped about that one.

“I told Shaq that the last time I saw a play like that in practice was when Wilber Marshall did it to Jim McMahon,” Rivera said. “That was a heck of a play in the red zone, just like Wilber did making a great one-handed catch and taking off running. Shaq has that kind of ability, and that’s what exciting when you see a young man start to put things together.”

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ROSTER MOVES: Wide receiver Fred Ross (hip) came off the PUP list on Tuesday, leaving tight end Chris Manhertz as the last player on the list. The Panthers also signed defensive end Sterling Bailey, a University of Georgia product, after waiving defensive tackle Ashad Mabry.

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