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Carolina Panthers

Training Camp Observations: Day 7

Ejiro Evero

SPARTANBURG – Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero can't seem to overstate how vital practice days in full pads are for his defense.

Between the practices in full pads during training camp (the Panthers have had two thus far, including Wednesday's Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium) and the work they'll get next week against the New York Jets in joint practice, Evero is taking extra notes from what he sees those days.

And it's especially imperative when evaluating the group so many have kept an eye on – the outside linebackers and who will be the player to step up opposite two-time Pro Bowler Brian Burns.

"We talk about the value of these padded practices, and I think, for our defense, especially with those edge guys, it's essential for them to get great work and take advantage of those ops to be physical and really demonstrate their techniques," Evero said in a press conference after Friday's training camp practice.

"Just because so much of what we ask them to do is roll off the ball, set an edge, and be violent. It's harder to do when you don't have the pads on."

With Marquis Haynes Sr. sidelined for the time being with a back issue, Evero evaluated the rest of the group and shared his evaluations of the group. He said Yetur Gross-Matos is doing a "great job," that rookie DJ Johnson and second-year Amaré Barno are "coming along," and gave a shoutout to Kobe Jones, who spent last year on the Panthers' practice squad.

"As we get into camp, as we get more padded practices, as we get into the preseason games, I think it'll tell more of the story," Evero said. "But I really love the progression of those guys. But we need somebody to step up. That's a fact. And we've got to just continue to push those guys toward it."

Evero expressed confidence in his group of outside linebackers, saying the coaches "love our roster, especially at that position" and reiterating that the competition for the spot won't rest with one winner; there will be multiple players who take on responsibilities setting the edge.

"It's not just going to be one guy," Evero said. "You just can't have two rushers in this league. You've got to have multiple guys that could get the job done. And we feel good about where the guys are going."

Bryce Young was largely efficient Friday, completing most of his passes and taking care of the ball, throwing no interceptions.

During the first seven-on-seven period, he would've had a perfect session if not for a drop off the hands of Stephen Sullivan.

He performed in red zone periods, connecting with DJ Chark Jr. and Terrace Marshall Jr. (more on those later), and tossed another well-placed ball to Adam Thielen downfield.

– One of Marshall's completions came right over Donte Jackson, as he secured the ball in tight coverage against the veteran corner.

Marshall has had a solid camp while he builds chemistry with Young and carves out his role under new wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson.

– Chark made his play of the day on schedule, as he's done most days of training camp. He caught a touchdown in red zone drills on a well-placed back-shoulder pass from Young.

Like most of their highlights at Wofford, Young's connection with Chark drew applause from the crowd watching.

— Right tackle Taylor Moton got the morning off and worked on the side Friday, a bit of a break for the veteran and consistent with his patterns of recent years.

While he was on a bike, veteran swing tackle Cameron Erving worked with the starters at right tackle, though they used the opportunity to take a look at a few different combinations.

Guard Michael Jordan got some work there (and didn't look completely out of place), as did Cade Mays.

Mays has been working with the starters at right guard for the most part (though undrafted rookie Nash Jensen gets a snap or two with the ones), but he played all five line positions in college, so that's less of a big deal for him.

The Panthers are deeper on the offensive line than they've been in some time, so getting lots of looks at different combinations will help when it's time to cut to a 53-man roster. As the old football cliche goes, "The more you can do."

– While speaking with reporters, wide receiver Jonathan Mingo shared how the Panthers' cornerback room's versatility is helping him learn how to play against different types of defensive backs heading into his rookie season.

He said matching up with the different sizes and skill sets that Jaycee Horn, Jackson, and CJ Henderson has helped him develop.

"Everybody plays the game different," Mingo said. "So they're all giving me good work right now."

— Moton was riding a bike on the side, but that crowd was getting smaller by the day.

Haynes (back) and cornerback Rejzohn Wright remain sidelined. Henderson, who missed a few days with a groin issue, continued to practice more. He was in uniform Wednesday night at Fan Fest as well.

They're hoping to get guard Chandler Zavala back soon (which will add to the competitiveness on the offensive line), as head coach Frank Reich said that could happen early next week.

Shy Tuttle is getting to know his new teammates along the defensive line quite well, taking notice of Derrick Brown's power.

He expressed admiration while talking with reporters about Brown, saying he watched Brown play 12 plays during a two-minute drill without appearing to be tired.

"Derrick is a beast for real," Tuttle said.

— A group of NFL officials were on the scene Friday for practice, led by referee Ron Torbert. The officials come through once per camp to work with teams and present information about rules changes and points of emphasis to players and coaches.

– Wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson created a cool memory for a young fan, Noah, at camp, bringing him on the field from the crowd to teach him drill basics.

He also tossed footballs with Chark and Thielen during a special teams period.

View snapshots of fans who attended this year's Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium.

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