SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Observations from the Carolina Panthers third practice at Wofford College
Blind side: Left tackle Michael Oher had a tough day handling the pass rush on the first day in pads. Between team and individual drills he was beaten badly at least four times. The last was by right defensive end Mario Addison, who reached up and tipped a Cam Newton pass. The Panthers are hoping Oher, who struggled at right tackle the past two seasons with Tennessee and Baltimore, can stabilize the left tackle position. Nate Chandler, who lost the left tackle job to Byron Bell last season, worked first as Oher’s backup.
New addition: Paul Browning, an undrafted rookie wide receiver out of Colorado St.-Pueblo, trotted onto the field in shorts while players were doing pre-practice stretching. Browning was signed on Sunday morning to replace Stephen Hill, who was waived/injured after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee during Saturday’s practice.
Opportunity: Wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, signed as an undrafted rookie out of Green Bay during the offseason, did little to impress during OTAs. But he’s starting to make catches that catch your eye in camp, and he’ll have even more opportunities with Hill gone.
Right defensive end: Kony Ealy began the first drill as the starter there. Addison opened up with the first team on a passing drill. Frank Alexander also got a lot of time working with the first group. The Panthers are hoping one of those players steps up as the every-down end opposite Charles Johnson.
Injury update: Cornerback Chris Houston sat out of practice with a tweaked toe injury suffered Saturday. The injury didn’t happen when he and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. leaped the fence surrounding the field after Ginn made a deep touchdown catch. Defensive tackle Kawann Short also sat out for the second straight day with back spasms. Assistant head coach Steve Wilks said neither was serious.
Rivera return? Wilks said head coach Ron Rivera will return sometime late Sunday afternoon. Rivera has been in Reno, Nevada, the past two days attending the funeral of his brother, Mickey, who died on Tuesday of pancreatic cancer.