With the Panthers having only three days between their 42-28 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, the preparation has been more mental than physical, with both walkthroughs Monday and Tuesday featuring the Panthers players wearing neither pads nor helmets – Rivera said it would be “redundant” to have the players putting on pads and running through a physical practice less than 48 hours after playing on Sunday – it made even less sense when it started raining during the early part of practice.
“What we tried to do is attack the mental aspect of practice today and [made] sure that the pictures we were getting from the show team was exactly what we were looking for, the blocking patterns and schemes were what we really needed to see,” said Rivera. “So we really focused in on making sure we’re getting the mental side of the game moreso than anything else.”
While there wasn’t a lot of physical activity, no offensive lineman with Kalil on the back of their jersey was present at practice; even though Matt is eligible to return from injured reserve Thursday night against the Steelers, he hasn’t been spotted on the practice fields – even to work on the side with trainers – in a few weeks. But seeing his brother Ryan pop up on the injury report with an ankle injury was a surprise, although the 11-year vet doesn’t necessarily need to practice to play Thursday night, specifically on a short week.
“He did some stuff with the trainers and all that good stuff and so far, he’s feeling pretty good about it,” said Rivera about his 33-year old center. “But we’ll see how he is first thing tomorrow and have a better idea, but I’m optimistic.”
Safety Eric Reid, who suffered a sprained shoulder at the start of the fourth quarter but still played every snap, participated in a limited fashion at Tuesday’s practice, but he has been coming in early and staying late to get additional treatment in the hopes that he can play at Pittsburgh – Reid told us in the locker room that he liked his chances to play on Thursday night.
“I’ll tell you, he’s a mentally tough young man,” said Rivera. “For him to play the way he did and not want to come out in certain situations on Sunday really speaks to how mentally tough he is and it would not surprise me one bit.”
Torrey Smith has not practiced since suffering a knee injury in Philadelphia and it would be shocking to see him play on Thursday night, especially with 10 days between the matchup with the Steelers and a trip to Detroit to face the Lions.
The Panthers will have their final injury report tomorrow before leaving for Pittsburgh. Check out the full injury report from Tuesday below:
|Ryan Kalil||Ankle||None||Ron Rivera said he was "optimistic" about Kalil's chances|
|Torrey Smith||Knee||None||Would be shocking to see Smith ready for Thursday - more likely he returns for Week 11|
|Cam Newton||Right Shoulder||Limited|
|Eric Reid||Shoulder||Limited||Said in the locker room that he liked his chances to play Thursday|