After beginning the week with 12 players either not practicing or limited during Wednesday’s practice session and being without special teams ace and captain Colin Jones yesterday, the Panthers had everyone participated fully in practice on Friday, including Devin Funchess, who missed last week’s game with a back injury and is the only player listed with an injury designation for the Panthers game against the Buccaneers in Week 13.
“Devin had a good day today, he really did,” said Rivera. “Looking forward to tomorrow to see how he looks as far as his reaction to all of the work he did. We actually gave him a couple of opportunities and he looked really good, so I’m optimistic about that.”
Rivera says that Funchess would likely be listed as probable if that designation was still available.
Perhaps the biggest injury news came from Tampa, with wide receiver DeSean Jackson being ruled out with a thumb injury – that will likely give more reps to receiver Chris Godwin; Rivera says the Bucs will likely play the same gameplan whether Jackson is on the field or not.
“They are the #1 offense in the league for a reason because they push the ball vertically,” said Rivera. “As we talked about going up against them the first time, we can’t allow big plays up over the top.”
The Bucs also expect to have linebacker Lavonte David available for the first time in almost three weeks, barring any setbacks.
While the Panthers have designated safety Da’Norris Searcy to return from injured reserve, the 30-year old, who the Panthers signed in free agency during the offseason, will remain on injured reserve for at least another week as he begins to get his body back into football shape – Searcy told us that his work with trainers on the side of practice last week was his first running he’d done in cleats since suffering a concussion in Week 2 and being placed on IR.
The Panthers have until December 19th to add Searcy to the active roster.
With temperatures expected to be in the eighties on Sunday in Tampa, the Panthers are already emphasizing keeping the players hydrated to prepare for the Florida heat while temperatures remain much milder here in the Carolinas.