CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers coach Ron Rivera is chomping at the bit to get his full contingent of offensive players on the football field.
That might just happen this week.
Quarterback Cam Newton and wide receiver Curtis Samuel, the team’s rookie second-round draft pick, are on pace to play Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars after missing the first two preseason games rehabbing from injuries.
Newton amped up his workload at practice Monday, participating in every team drill as he recovers from soreness in his throwing shoulder.
“The big key for us will be how he feels (Tuesday) morning, just to make sure there is nothing sore or tight,” Rivera said. “But he looked really good.”
Newton participated in the first five practices of training camp following offseason surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. But he developed soreness on the sixth day and it took nearly two weeks before he started throwing in team drills again.
“The thing he told me (after practice) is he just still feels like his timing is off and he’s a little slow with his decision making,” Rivera said. “It will be, with him, about the reps. As long as he’s getting quality reps and we’re not overusing him, I think he’s going to be fine.”
Carolina would like to get Samuel, a speedy receiver who excelled at Ohio State, initiated into the system as soon as possible. Samuel participated in team drills Monday for the first time since the start of training camp following a hamstring injury.
“I can’t say it’s been frustrating. I want to be out there, but I have learned so much just being in the playbook and studying little things,” Samuel said. “I didn’t want this injury to happen but I feel like there were good things that came out of this injury.”