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WR Hixon progresses; G Kugbila suffers setback

CHARLOTTE – Hamstring injuries have hampered the preseason progress of rookie offensive lineman Edmund Kugbila and wide receiver Domenik Hixon.

On Saturday, Kugbila and Hixon returned to practice. Hixon then took part in Sunday's padded session. Kugbila did not.

Head coach Ron Rivera confirmed that Kugbila suffered another setback.

"We're concerned about the hamstring still," Rivera said. "We're going to bring him along a little bit slower than we had planned. A little disappointing, obviously, because he's got some ability and some promise."

Hixon, meanwhile, appears to have taken a step forward in his recovery. Rivera expects the wideout to make his preseason debut in the preseason finale Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"We expect to see him out there and we expect him to do some good things," Rivera said. "He's a veteran. I think he's going to help the group. I'm excited to see him. He made a pretty spectacular catch today and it just shows you what he's capable of. It fires you up because you know what he can become."

Hixon is fired up for the chance to finally show what he can do since arriving as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

"Man, it's been a long preseason for me," Hixon said. "I'm still blessed to be here and have an opportunity."

He must work quickly to assert himself in the competitive wide receiver rotation.

"That's what we are trying to figure out now, jockeying for position," Hixon said. "That's why the reps are delicate and hard to come by. Being out here now is a good thing for me."

Left guard Amini Silatolu (hamstring) missed practice and Rivera said Chris Scott will start in his place on Thursday.

Wide receivers Armanti Edwards (hamstring) and Joe Adams (calf) also missed practice on Sunday.

"(The injuries) are making things very difficult, this being the last week with cuts coming around the corner," Rivera said. "You want to get as many guys out on the practice field so you can watch them, and then you want to watch as many as you can in the game to get a good sense and a good feel."

HAPPY RETURNS FOR BEASON: Linebacker Jon Beason played 14 snaps and finished with two tackles in his preseason debut against the Baltimore Ravens.

It was Beason's first live action since Week 4 of the 2012 season. He was ecstatic to be back on the field and felt he could have played more.

"It was great just to get out there and run around a little bit with my teammates, to win the game," Beason said. "It was just fun, man."

The defense certainly had a lot of fun, recording three touchdowns in the 34-27 victory.

"In terms of a statistics standpoint, that's the best defensive performance I've been a part of," Beason said. "To score three touchdowns on defense is impressive."

Beason said there were no setbacks related to the knee injury that previously sidelined him, but he is still working his way back to full strength. He expects to get some more work against the Steelers to help prepare him for the start of the regular season.  

"I can't wait (for the regular season), but actually, I'm going to enjoy these next couple weeks," Beason said. "I need the reps to get stronger and get my wind back so I can hit it running."

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