CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Starting strong safety Robert Lester missed his third straight day of practice on Friday with a hamstring injury, making him doubtful for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Minnesota.
The undrafted rookie, who spent the first two weeks of the season on the practice squad, has an interception in each of the last two games since becoming the starter. He would be replaced by veteran Quintin Mikell.
"We'll how Robert is [Saturday], how many reps he takes,'' coach Ron Rivera said. "We'll take Robert off to side and see how he handles it, see how he wakes up Sunday morning.
"If he's ready to go, I'll start Robert. I want to keep playing hot hand of young guys right now.''
Mikell began the season as the starter, but injured his ankle in a Week 2 loss at Buffalo. Lester was called up from the practice squad. He has played so well that Rivera and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said he would remain the starter even with Mikell back.
Lester seemed confident all week he would play Sunday, but if not Rivera thinks Mikel is ready.
"I really liked what I saw from Quinton those first two games,'' Rivera said.
Rookie running back Kenjon Barner is listed as doubtful after the pain in the foot that kept him out of the first three games resurfaced.