Day 6 of Carolina Panthers training camp brought overcast skies, cooler temperatures, and plenty of excitement.
The biggest news of the day was corner Bene Benwikere coming up off of the PUP list and participating in practice. Apparently, all Bene needed was an additional week for the Panthers medical staff to have full confidence in his leg. Bene looked a little rusty out there today, and I think he would tell you that himself. However, having not fully participated in a practice since December I think that was to be expected.
Coach Rivera spoke after practice about Bene’s return, and said the Panthers were “set at left and right” with the rookies on the outside corner positions, meaning Bene would be seeing more time inside at the nickel position. However, Rivera also said that he would work Bene in on the left and right, so there is some confusion here as to what the plan is long term.
Tedd Ginn and Damiere Byrd had excellent days today, but Stephen Hill did not. Hill dropped a Cam Newton pass that hit him square in the hands with no one around him. Hill has struggled with pass catching his entire career. After showing some improvement this offseason, he has dropped a few in the last two practices. This is something to keep an eye on as other receivers like Byrd and Norwood are looking to move up the depth chart. Hill may be dropping in the ranks.
The idea of linebacker Jeremy Cash in a Carolina Panthers uniform this season is starting to stick in my mind a bit. Now that he has added a bit of bulk to his frame and weighing in at 220 pounds, it isn’t so far fetched to think he could make the team.
I was especially impressed with how well Cash handled himself physically today in a one on one match up against tight end Marcus Lucas. Though smaller than Lucas, Cash was able to hold his own. Cash has also shown great instincts in run support, which was his strong point coming out of Duke.
Though rookie Zack Sanchez has looked good in coverage, it is going to take him some time to be able to press receivers at the line effectively. Sanchez gives up a great deal of size and weight to over half of the Panthers receiving corps. Because nickels are also responsible for certain run stopping assignments, you can probably expect Bene Benwikere or Shaq Thompson in on probable run plays.
Though Daryl Worley did give up the long touchdown to Damiere Byrd, he also made a few really nice plays today. Worley has the closing speed and length to really get after the ball. Notice his hand mirroring Philly Brown’s waiting to make a play. As of today, Bradberry looks like the number one corner… but I have to tell you Worley is not far behind. They may switch positions when all is said and done.
Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly enjoyed a conversation before practice. It struck me that you would be hard pressed to find a tighter couple of guy in the entire history of the Carolina Panthers. I feel like it is the friendship they share that has absolutely contributed to their individual accomplishments on the field. How could it not?
General Carolina Panthers Notes
Ron Rivera spoke about the Panthers defensive ends after practice today. He listed Horton, Addison, and Delaire as “solid guys in terms of backups”. So it is safe to mark them down as the current front runners. Cox and Miley have work to do if they plan on being on the roster come September.
River also spoke today of the “emergence of Cameron Artis Payne and Brandon Wegher” in terms of preseason playing time. This could mean that Panthers fans may get their wish. They could see Brandon Wegher in the preseason with a unit other than the third string.
TE Scott Simonson has been getting plenty of reps with the first and second teams, maybe as many as Dickson. This could mean that Dickson and Simonson are in direct competition for that number 2 tight end spot, with the 3rd spot being already claimed by seventh round draft pick Beau Sandland.
Cam Newton was back to his old antics today. You can read about them here.