#1. DTs Gerald McCoy and Kyle Love both returned to practice today after being off for Sunday’s practice. WR Chris Hogan did not practice today after leaving early yesterday with having tightness in his back.
#2. In the last two practices, CB Ross Cockrell has been getting work at safety with the 1st team. Head Coach Ron Rivera said that Cockrell’s ability to read a QB’s eyes and track the ball should allow him to be a playmaker with our new, much anticipated pass rush. **This has NOTHING to do with S Rashaan Gaulden not performing well.** Players are given chances in multiple roles, as Rivera is looking for position flexibility. Plus, the Panthers are using a lot of sub-packages on defense using three safeties as well.
#3. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said that Cam Newton has so many weapons and playmakers at his disposal, that being “Superman” all the time is no longer needed. However, he did say that he will still let “Cam be Cam” when the matchup favors his skill sets.
#4. During 1 on 1 drills for DL vs. OL today, DE/LB Mario Addison showed some power against LT Greg Little and was able to push him back. IMHO Little will be just fine. I have already seen a lot of fans saying that he is a bust or not a good pick. Be open minded that Little may take a while to perform. Same thing happened with Moton as a rookie in 2017. LB/DE Christian Miller showed some success going against RT Taylor Moton using speed and power moves. LG Greg Van Roten actually locked down DT Gerald McCoy a few times. RG Trai Turner and DT Kawann Short basically took turns beating each other up. There was plenty of trashing talking too.
#5. During 1 on 1 drills for LB vs. RB today, LB Luke Kuechly won one and lost one against RB Christian McCaffrey. Even when McCaffrey lost that round, he showed strong effort. I can tell he has worked on being better at pass protecting. LB Shaq Thompson just ran through RB Jordan Scarlett. It was almost comical. Scarlett definitely needs to spend time in the weight room. The loudest pops came from LB Jermaine Carter Jr. going against RB Cameron Artis-Payne. Artis-Payne won battle but the collision by both was very loud.
#6. During 1 on 1 drills for WR vs. DB today, CB James Bradberry made a smooth pass deflection on a ball that was intended for WR Jarius Wright. CB Kevon Seymour showed great recovery speed on a deep ball in the end zone for Torrey Smith that he swatted away at the very last second. WR Curtis Samuel continues to put on a clinic on getting a release downfield to make big catches. It doesn’t seem to matter who covers him, because he will get open and put himself into position to catch the ball. WR Aldrick Robinson is scary quick and fast. His ability to get deep quickly is simply amazing.
#7. During 11 on 11 team drills of offense vs defense, I saw that LB/DE Marquis Haynes, LB Jermaine Carter Jr. DB Luke Cole got several reps with the 1st team defense. Cam Newton looked sharp throwing the ball today. He threw a pretty pass to WR DJ Moore that he caught one handed in the end zone. He also threw two more TD passes to Curtis Samuel as well. RB Christian caught a quick pass out of the backfield and out ran both LBs Kuechly and Thompson who was chasing him hard. A few plays later, McCaffrey broke free down the sidelines and LB/DE Bruce Irvin chased him down, knocked the ball out and recovered it. As expected, everyone went crazy. I also noticed that the defensive line was getting quick, heavy pressure that would have at least 5 sacks and 3 near interceptions. NT Dontari Poe looks like the Pro Bowl version of himself in Kansas City. You can tell he loves being directly over the center. I saw several run plays using FB Alex Armah to lead block for RBs, especially in the red zone.
#8. Since the team will be off tomorrow, I noticed several trends. If I had to gauge the ratio of the number of times the defense uses the 3-4 philosophy vs. 4-3 philosophy, I would say it is 55/45. I think that we will use whichever alignment that matches up the best with the offensive personnel on the field. I noticed that several players are rotating in and out of the front 7. I also noticed that we are using many different offensive formations and different personnel groupings. I saw everything from 2 TE sets to having 5 WR sets. The goal is clearly to create favorable matchups on both sides of the ball. I am looking forward to practice #6 on Wednesday.