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Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton ‘off’ on his passes, but Rivera not concerned

There were deep passes to Corey Brown, Jarrett Boykin, Devin Funchess and Greg Olsen on Tuesday at Panthers training camp. And quarterback Cam Newton couldn’t connect with his receivers on any of them.

Tuesday at Wofford College may have been Newton’s most inaccurate day of camp. He was a touch long or too high, and sometimes when he was on target they’d be batted away by a defensive back.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera admitted Newton was off on Wednesday, but that didn’t concern him.

“He made some great reads but delivering the ball he was off,” Rivera said after the morning practice. “And a couple of times the wrong route was run.

“We should have been working toward the post when he threw one into the post. He had a nice seam route (to Olsen) that he missed. But at least he’s making good reads and good decisions. That’s always a good step.”

Both the first- and second-team offenses performed poorly in the 2-minute drill. After a first down for the first-team offense beginning at its own 35-yard line, the drive stalled near midfield on a fourth-down pass to Kelvin Benjamin broken up by Josh Norman.

Newton said in the offseason he wanted to improve on his accuracy. A career 59.5 percent passer, Newton said he wants to be between 65 and 70 percent this year.

Despite Newton’s poor showing Tuesday, Rivera still sees the foundation for a more accurate quarterback this season.

“What I’ve seen is the extra time he takes afterward working on specific routes,” Rivera said. “He’s working with the backs and tight ends on their quick inside routes. And you do see him trying to work on that. You see the footwork between periods when he, (quarterbacks coach) Ken (Dorsey) and (offensive coordinator) Mike (Shula) will go over to the other field and work on specifically on footwork. I think that’s one thing that you do see. You do see him working on those things and making sure he’s stepping into the (throw) and delivering a good ball.”

Shaq’s back, but don’t ask him about playing RB

Rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson hasn’t been with the Panthers long, but he’s already tired of answering questions about playing running back.

Thompson, the first-round pick from Washington, played all over the field for the Huskies, including running back. But the Panthers made it clear the night they drafted him that they plan to use Thompson at linebacker.

That hasn’t stopped reporters from asking him about the running back position.

“I know it’s going to keep coming, and it’s going to be the same answer – no,” Thompson said Tuesday.

Thompson rushed for 456 yards and two touchdowns for Washington last seasons after a couple of backs were injured. But his experience in the offensive backfield taught him he prefers defense.

“It’s different to get hit,” Thompson said. “I got hit a couple times and I’m like, ‘Geez, I know what side I want to play.’”

Thompson has been getting reps with the first-team defense this week after being limited by a hamstring injury the first two weeks of camp. Thompson praised the Panthers for giving him time to heal, and said it’s been fun to get back in the action.

Thompson had good coverage on Olsen during Tuesday’s practice to force an incompletion by Newton. Thompson said the matchups with Olsen are a good test.

“You’ve got to really key in with him because he’s a sharp tight end, a Pro Bowl tight end,” Thompson said. “You’ve really got to watch where he goes with his hips because he can run away with you if you get your eyes in the backfield. You’ve just got to keep going. He’s fast, I can tell you that, and a great route-runner.”

Observations

▪ Defensive end Charles Johnson (calf) will not participate in practices this week against the Dolphins. The aim is for Johnson to be back on the field against the Patriots next week, but the Panthers don’t want to rush back the only dependable end they have.

▪ Safety Roman Harper put a good hit on running back Fozzy Whittaker on a cutback. The play would have only gained a yard had it been a real game.

▪ Backup quarterback Derek Anderson had fun on the field Tuesday. He caught a pass with one hand and, in front of media who had put out viral video of Newton doing the same thing, shouted, “Oh, ESPN that!”

▪ Later in the day, linebacker A.J. Klein came on a blitz. Anderson dumped it to Whittaker on the same side as the blitzer and Anderson shouted, “Ahhh, sucka!” to the linebacker.

▪ Kony Ealy and Rakim Cox continued to get the bulk of first-team reps at defensive end. Frank Alexander worked on the second team along with Mario Addison and Steve Miller.

▪ Addison wore a black T-shirt after practice that read “FRONT PAGE TALENT.” We’re in a new media age, but the paper still matters.

Getting to know ...

DT Dwan Edwards

Height: 6-3.

Weight: 305.

College: Oregon State.

NFL experience: 12th year.

The scoop: At 34 years of age, Edwards is one of the oldest players on the team, but he’s still productive. Entering his fourth season in Carolina, Edwards will contribute anywhere between 20-25 snaps a game as the Panthers rotate the interior of their defensive line with Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, Colin Cole and Kyle Love. Carolina’s system suits Edwards well. In the eight years before Carolina he had 5 1/2 sacks. In just three years in Carolina he’s had 13 sacks.

Twitter handle: N/A

3 questions with ...

Panthers football operations manager Bryan Porter

Q. What’s been the most challenging part of organizing the practices with Miami?

A. Trying to coordinate another team with 90 players, our team with 90 players, and trying to figure out all the little pieces and how they’re going to fit together and get everyone on the same page so we can pull this off.

Q. What’s that look like?

A. Just the little odds and ends that a lot of people don’t think about, moving equipment back and forth. Trainers moving their stuff back and forth. They’ll have their own video guys. They’ll shoot practice and we’ll work together to share the video of practice.

Q. From a fan perspective, will it be the same routine for post-practice autographs?

A. Yeah. I’m not exactly sure how (the Dolphins) are planning on doing it because I don’t know how they handle their part. But for us, it’ll be the same. You’ll be able to come up to the fence, get autographs. Our players are not going to do anything different. They’ll still sign when they can.

Three to watch

Three Carolina Panthers to watch in Wednesday’s practice in Spartanburg:

24 Cornerback Josh Norman will be going up against Miami’s best receiver every down, and that could make for some great viewing.

99 Kawann Short has looked great since his long layoff due to a back injury, and he’ll be getting after Ryan Tannehill.

1 An early-camp scrum and history with Ndamukong Suh makes whatever Cam Newton does Wednesday worth watching.

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