The Panthers call it fast Friday, and this one was a particularly good one. Carolina had all of it's players on the field ready to go for Sunday's game against the Bills. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was particularly hopeful about defensive tackle Vernon Butler, who missed the season opener after injuring his knee in the preseason.
"It was kind of neat to see them all out there. It was good seeing Vernon (Butler) out there running around, so we're kind of excited about his chances of playing Sunday," Rivera said.
With the full 53 man roster healthy, it puts the Panthers in a good situation they're pretty unfamiliar with- they actually get to pick who's inactive instead of placing injured players on the list.
"It'll be interesting, we'll talk about everything but we have an idea going in. It'll be a good thing for us for one of the first times to really pick and choose and have the guys up that we feel are ready to roll," Rivera said.
The Panthers game Sunday brings back a host of familiar faces, including Sean McDermott, the Panthers former defensive coordinator and the Bills new head coach. McDermott spent six years in Carolina, but Ron Rivera's favorite memory of his former coach is one that came after McDermott left.
"One of the neatest things that I really feel good about is knowing that when I got Sean here, and went to dinner with he and Jamie, after Sean had taken the job. I remember telling Sean, 'Hey, I know what your goal is and I want to help you get to it.' Now knowing that he's achieved it, being the head coach, I'm pretty fired up about that. I really am, I'm very happy for him," Rivera said.
MORE OF CURTIS SAMUEL
McCaffrey may still be generating most of the buzz but Rivera has his eyes on another rookie this week. Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel continues to improve after missing most of the preseason with a hamstring injury. Rivera says you'll see more from Samuel this week, including him returning punts.
"He's been terrific; he plays on most of the special teams now too. It's been a lot of fun to watch him. You talk about a guy that's grasped his situation... he's been a young pro he really is. I'm kind of excited to watch him," Rivera said.
BUTKER BACK, THEUS IN
After waiving kicker Harrison Butker on Wednesday, the Panthers were happy to pick him back up on Thursday. Butker was placed on the practice squad and while Graham Gano has been named the kicker, the competition at practice can continue.
"It's good insurance, but the other thing is you have to look towards the future. This is a young guy that showed some really good growth. I think that's a thing we have to sit back and look at and say man, if this guy continues to grow what do you have," Rivera explained.
The Panthers also added offensive tackle John Theus to the mix Thursday. He was set to arrive to town on Friday.
"He's a Georgia guy, that makes all of our Georgia players happy, But very athletic, big guy. For a 6'6, 305 pound guy he moves very well. Good hand placement, just a young guys that's got a lot to learn," Rivera said.
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