#1. WR Chris Hogan is back after missing Monday’s practice with tightness in his back. NFL referees were here today to make calls during team drills. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is here as well speaking to media and to the fans.
#2. LB Luke Kuechly walked off the field after a solid collision during 9 vs. 7 drills. He spent several minutes on the sidelines speaking with head trainer Ryan Vermillion but he never went in the tent to be examined. Vermillion then went to speak with head coach Ron Rivera and LB coach Steve Russ. Kuechly remained on the sidelines the rest of the practice but seemed just fine.
#3. CB Ross Cockrell got all 1st team reps at safety beside S Eric Reid. S Rashaan Gaulden got all 1st team reps at nickel CB. LB Jermaine Carter Jr. got all 1st team reps at MLB in place of Kuechly. CB Kevon Seymour got most of the 1st team reps at outside CB opposite of CB James Bradberry.
#4. WRs DJ Moore, Jaydon Mickens, Chris Hogan and Terry Godwin were sharing all of the punt return reps.
#5. During 1 on 1 DL vs. OL drills, it was an impressive sight watching DT Gerald McCoy and LB/DE Bruce Irvin going against RG Trai Turner and RT Taylor Moton. So many combinations of moves and countermoves were on full display. If this was a best of five basketball series in the playoffs, then McCoy and Irvin won the reps 3 to 2. I felt like I saw the best of all 4 players during this exchange. Also, LB/DE Marquis Haynes, DE Efe Obada, DT Dontari Poe and DT Vernon Butler Jr. were also winning a majority of reps during these drills as well.
#6. During 1 on 1 WR vs. DB drills, Curtis Samuel, once again, shined the brightest among other bright receivers. He did a “shake & bake” move on CB James Bradberry on a slant route that was just sick and so disrespectful. There was literally nothing Bradberry could do but chase Samuel after the catch. WR Torrey Smith got CB Donte Jackson on what looked like a “SLUGO” route aka Slant N Go and beat him deep for a TD score. Also, WRs Jarius Wright, Chris Hogan, Aldrick Robinson and Terry Godwin looked nice beating coverage to get open as well.
#7. During 11 on 11 team drills, there were plenty of highlights and “Wow” plays made. Let’s start with CB Bradberry picking off a QB Cam Newton pass to WR Curtis Samuel. I could hear Newton cursing at himself afterwards for making that throw. TE Greg Olsen made a great diving catch on a pass from QB Newton as he was being tightly covered by CB Jackson. S Rashaan Gaulden picked off a deep pass thrown by QB Kyle Allen intended for WR Smith. But next time up QB Allen threw a TD pass to TE Ian Thomas. WR DJ Moore split the double team by CB Seymour and CB Bradberry for a deep TD catch from QB Newton. CB Seymour almost had an interception while covering WR Wright on a QB Will Grier pass. CB Lorenzo Doss made an amazing pass deflection on an intermediate pass to WR Robinson on a QB Grier pass. S Gaulden had 5 pass deflections rotating back and forth from nickel and safety. S Eric Reid gave a solid hit on TE Olsen to dislodge the ball as he ended up falling on his back. They shook hands afterwards. One of my favorite moments was some pancake blocks by LG Greg Van Roten on LB Jared Norris that lead to a big run by RB Cameron Artis-Payne. OL Dennis Daley also got himself a huge pancake block on DT Kawann Short that got everyone on offense excited, as it sprung RB Christian McCaffrey free for a nice run on the right side of the line.
#8. My overall assessment is that, based on this practice, this team is looking to make each other better. You saw veteran defensive players giving tips and pointing out things that can help offensive players. I’d say, at least 20 players are putting in work after practice is over. The feeling seems to be that they believe the pieces are in place to build a special team. Team chemistry is always strong but it seems to get stronger. I would give today’s “win” to the defense overall. But the offense is also connecting on playmaking “haymakers” as well, to challenge them back. I enjoyed watching this practice a lot.