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- DE Charles Johnson had a slight limp as he walked to practice, and he’s already been ruled out the rest of the week. Johnson tried to return Monday, but his calf flared up again.
- OL Amini Silatolu (calf) and CB Lou Young (hamstring) remained sidelined.
- WR Kelvin Benjamin, who took limit reps Monday, was back at full strength.
- Four days after suffering a concussion against the Bills, CB Teddy Williams was back in pads. He didn’t participate in team drills.
- TE Brandon Williams said he’s “very close” to returning and hopes to be back next week. He’s on the PUP list after undergoing surgery on his groin.
- WR Devin Funchess bounces off S Kurt Coleman
When Cam Newton fired a pass to his second-round receiver in the middle of the field, Coleman went for the interception. Before he could get there, Funchess snagged the ball and held on while absorbing a nice pop. As Coleman fell to the turf, Funchess sprinted to the end zone:
- DB Colin Jones pass break up
With the second team running the two-minute drill, Derek Anderson tossed an out route to Brenton Bersin on third down. Jones quickly made up ground to bat the ball away:
- CB Josh Norman pass break up
A few plays after Kelvin Benjamin caught a pass on the sideline against Josh Norman, the two matched up again. This time, when Norman won, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott ran across the field screaming, “Nice job, nice job!”
- Newton and Benjamin twice connected with slants during one-on-ones near the goal line and they did it again later in the red zone. But it seemed like if it wasn’t those two running that route, it wasn’t getting completed Tuesday.
The passing game was less than sharp, and Newton, in particular, struggled to connect deep down field.
“He was off today. He made some great reads but didn’t deliver the ball. A couple times the wrong route was run,” coach Ron Rivera said. “At least he’s making good reads and good decisions. That’s always a good step.”
As he’s done during nearly every practice this spring and summer, Newton spent a special teams period going through his footwork with quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey and offensive coordinator Mike Shula.
When asked if he’s seen signs that Newton has improved his accuracy the past few months, Rivera replied:
“Yes I have. What I’ve seen is the extra time he takes afterwards to work on specific routes. He’s working with the backs and tight ends right now on quick inside routes.
“You see him work on the footwork as well. A lot of things happen between periods when he, Kenny and Mike would go over to the other field and work specifically on footwork. You see him working on stepping into the ball, delivering a good ball.”
- As Rivera promised Monday, defensive linemen continued to get looks in a bunch of different groups. He also said a message isn’t being sent to Frank Alexander, but it’s tough to believe his work with the third and second team the past couple days isn’t a sign of the coaches’ disappointment.
For the second straight practice, Kony Ealy was with the starters on one end while Rakim Cox got the bulk of snaps on the other.
At defensive tackle, Kyle Love continued to work ahead of Colin Cole and Dwan Edwards.
- Before it happened this summer, Newton’s long-term contract in Carolina had been a question of when, not if for a couple years. Luke Kuechly’s situation is even more clear.
When they locked in Newton, the Panthers immediately turned their attention to getting Kuechly’s deal done. They’re still working on it, but it’s clearly not something either side is stressing over all that much.
After calling it a “50-50 proposition” Tuesday, Rivera said, “Hopefully, it’ll get taken care of. It would be a great thing to have that taken care of, then we can go on to the next guy.”
So, yeah, the Panthers are planning to keep arguably the best middle linebacker in the game, and he just wants to play football. Well, he wants to play football with the Panthers, too. Odds are Tom Condon, Kuechly’s agent, cares more about the details than his player does.
If the Panthers toss out an acceptable offer sometime in the next few weeks, it’ll get done. If they don’t, it’ll get done in 2016. Either way, Kuechly will be very rich and Panthers fans will be able to wear No. 59 jerseys for many more years.