SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The penultimate practice of Panthers training camp was a little too sloppy for Ron Rivera’s liking.
“A little concerned about today,” the head coach said. “We had too many little detail things we weren’t very good at. Today was not one of our better days. I didn’t think our quarterbacks were particularly sharp, or as sharp as they’ve been. We have to get back to the details of our jobs.”
Speaking of important details, a series of mishandled snaps kept the offense from getting things going early in practice.
“It’s something we’ve got to clean up,” Rivera said. “Your quarterback-center exchange is about as elementary as it gets.”
Fortunately for Rivera and the Panthers, they have one more day to end their stay in Spartanburg on a higher note.
Until then, here are Sunday’s practice observations:
- The wide receivers gave us a few highlights right at the start. Devin Funchess went over top of rookie cornerback Donte Jackson for an eye-popping catch in one-on-ones. Rookie wideout DJ Moore then introduced newly-signed cornerback Alex Carter to camp by completely turning him around with an explosive juke off the line, which led to an easy pitch and catch.
- With cornerback Captain Munnerlyn running his mouth in an effort to fire up the defense, wide receiver Torrey Smith responded with one of the catches of camp on the first play of 7-on-7. Quarterback Cam Newton tossed a deep ball down the right sideline and Smith reached out with his right hand for the highlight-reel grab. Cornerback Kevon Seymour – back in action after missing the previous practice to witness the birth of his second child – had tight coverage but it didn’t matter.
“He got lucky!” Munnerlyn yelled afterward.
- Much like Saturday’s practice, Munnerlyn and Newton were constantly jawing. At one point, a smiling Rivera called Munnerlyn over to get the scoop on what the chirping was all about. “It’s going to be one of those practices,” Newton said aloud. “I’m hurting feelings today.”
- Cornerback James Bradberry was back in action after missing the previous practice and Thursday’s preseason opener with a groin injury.
“He’s on track,” Rivera said. “We should get him ready and have him for Miami.”
- Linebacker Luke Kuechly put an end to the two-minute drill with one of his patented plays in coverage. Kuechly was all over the out route to tight end Greg Olsen and picked off Newton’s pass before tumbling across the sideline.
- Quarterback Garrett Gilbert answered back for the offense, engineering a touchdown drive during the second-team’s two-minute drill. Gilbert completed pretty passes to tight end Ian Thomas and wide receiver Damiere Byrd to set up first-and-goal from the 8-yard line. That’s when he connected with Moore on a slant for the score.
- Rookie safety Rashaan Gaulden nearly came down with a stunning interception during the red zone period, as he leaped and got hands on the ball from Gilbert at full extension. But he couldn’t bring it in, leading fellow rookie Jackson to call it a “missed opp.”
- Jackson took advantage of an opportunity moments later, as he reeled in Newton’s errant pass intended for Funchess and proceeded to hype up the crowd as he ran with the ball down the sideline. "He brings a different aspect to the game," Funchess said of the second-round corner. "It's been great battling against the young guy. I've been telling him since OTAs, I've never seen somebody that quick."
Rivera then had this to say about his comfort level with the secondary now that Jackson is part of it: "A lot more comfortable than the last two years, to be honest with you."
- Practice ended with a touchdown for the offense, however. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke lofted a pass to running back Kenjon Barner, who fought off linebacker Chris Frey for the catch in the corner of the end zone.
View photos from the thirteenth practice of Panthers training camp.