Minicamp observations: Ankle update
June, 17, 2014
By David Newton | ESPN.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Five observations from Day 1 of the Carolina Panthers' three-day minicamp:
Smart decision: Cam Newton's left ankle that endured surgery in March to tighten ligaments looks healthy enough that the fourth-year quarterback could fully participate, but the Panthers are being smart. They limited him to 3- and 5-step drops and a few passes outside of team drills on Tuesday, and that will be the extent of what he does the next two days. There will be plenty of time for Newton to get the timing down with his new receivers in training camp. He will be cleared 100 percent by then, but coach Ron Rivera said even then he will limit the number of "Q runs" in practice. Rivera is more concerned about Newton developing his timing, noting the running game comes natural.
Boxing mitts: The Panthers fitted several of their cornerbacks, most notably Josh Norman and Antoine Cason, with boxing mitts on both hands as a way to remind them to use their feet more and their hands less. With the NFL cracking down on hands to the receivers this season, the Panthers want to make sure players break bad habits and begin doing things the right way.
Great Scott: Guard Chris Scott missed most of the team drills during organized team activities because of poor conditioning. But after a month working on that, he was back taking snaps with the first two teams at right guard. Scott moved pretty good, particularly on plays where he was asked to pull. At 6-foot-4 and 345 pounds, he adds quality depth and a potential starter to a revamped offensive line.
More competition at left tackle: You didn't hear Garry Williams' name mentioned during OTAs, because he continued to rehab from a knee injury that ended his 2013 season in early September. But he was out there on Tuesday taking some snaps at -- among other positions -- left tackle. Byron Bell remains the front-runner to replace the retired Jordan Gross on the left side of the line, with Nate Chandler also in the mix. But the forgotten man in all of this is Williams, a six-year veteran who was a left tackle at Kentucky before moving to right tackle and right guard at Carolina. Asked where Williams would figure in if he doesn't win the left tackle job, Rivera tossed out practically every position on the line except for center. It's obvious the team wants Williams to fit into the rotation somewhere.
Slippery when wet: After watching several receivers go down, Rivera acknowledged that the fields are slippery. It probably has something to do with the high humidity and heavy rain storms that have hit the area in recent days. Nobody was hurt, but Rivera is keeping an eye on it. Not enough to move practice to the artificial practice field, though. Rivera noted, as will reporters standing on it, that the turf is 10 degrees hotter or more than the grass. With temperatures expected to be in the mid-90s all week, that means in excess of 100 degrees.