SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Observations from the Carolina Panthers' practice on Sunday at Wofford College:
Making a case: This was a big day for a couple of little-known receivers trying to make the roster. Mike Brown and Damiere Byrd came up with several big catches. Few outside of Liberty University probably know much about Brown, a receiver and quarterback in college. He did little for the Jacksonville Jaguars the past three seasons. But he continues to make plays for the Panthers like he did on this one Sunday.
“He’s an interesting young man who caught our attention when he worked out in the spring,’’ coach Ron Rivera said. “We found out today he can catch punts, so he’s going to get some opportunities.’’ Byrd is more well-known because he played at nearby South Carolina. The Panthers continue to find ways to work him into the lineup at receiver and on kick returns. He’s getting more time with the second unit. You’ll likely see a lot of both in the preseason opener at Buffalo on Friday. Both still are a long-shot to make the final 53-man roster, but they're making the decision tougher.
Norman’s ability to close the gap and make such plays is why he’s on his way to earning a big raise -- whether it’s at Carolina or somewhere else -- when his current deal expires after this season.
Back in action: Starting defensive tackle Kawann Short didn’t appear to have any issues with his back that, until Sunday, has kept him out practice since the start of camp. He participated in limited drills, but had good movement and showed no residual effect. The Panthers need to get Short back into the rotation with tackle Star Lotulelei (stress reaction right foot) out at least two more weeks.
Energy level: After practicing in front of 55,000 in Charlotte on Friday night and getting Saturday off, you’d have thought players would come back fresh and focused. Rivera didn’t think so. “They’re still caught up a little bit in the excitement of Friday night,’’ he said. “Guys were still talking about it during stretching. ... The energy level that was brought to us was really special. We’ve got to live up to our part.’’