CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Andrew Norwell sat at his locker, one towel draped around his massive 6-foot-6, 310-pound frame and another over his head so you couldn't see his face.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Norwell
AP Photo/Nell RedmondUndrafted Panthers rookie guard Andrew Norwell, who's in a position to start against the Seahawks, tends to save his enthusiasm for the football field.
He'd made it clear earlier he wasn't doing interviews, so nobody approached him.

For the first seven weeks of the season reporters didn't want to talk to the Carolina Panthers' undrafted rookie lineman out of Ohio State. Now that he's in position to start Sunday's game against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, he didn't want to talk them.

"All Yell Norwell," as quarterback Cam Newton dubbed the guard because he shouts so loud when the offense breaks huddle, had gone silent.

"People change," backup center Brian Folkerts said jokingly. "Once you start, people change."

"Big-timing," Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil kidded of Norwell, who barring a miracle recovery will replace starter Amini Silatolu (calf) at left tackle.

Actually, it was that kind of ribbing that may have led to Norwell's silence.

"We were busting his chops the other day because obviously he hadn't talked to the media all year, and now he's playing and talking to the media," Kalil said. ”So we said he was big-time, he's a superstar.

"I think he got embarrassed."

Underneath the towel and beyond the long, curly hair that looks like it hasn't been cut in years is an intensity and passion that might be good for Carolina's much-maligned line.

"It helps," coach Ron Rivera said. "He's a different young man. Maybe he's camera shy, but he's an exciting kid. He gets fired up. There's that youthful enthusiasm you like to see."

The first thing offensive line coach John Matsko noticed about Norwell when he came in for a tryout was his intensity and passion.

"He loves the game," Matsko said. "He loves coming in here every day. Those are the guys you really want to be with."

Norwell was inactive the first seven games. When Silatolu suffered a calf injury two weeks ago at Cincinnati, he was activated for Green Bay as a backup to Fernando Velasco on the left side.

When right guard Trai Turner left with a sprained knee/ankle in the first quarter of the 38-17 loss to the Packers, Velasco moved to the right side and Norwell replaced him on the left side.

Norwell played 60 snaps and, according to Rivera, graded out well.

Every time a coach or player has mentioned his name since, a smile came with it.

"Because he's got such a big heart and he doesn't want to let anybody down," Kalil said. "He works his butt off and wants to be perfect and get it right. Those are the kind of guys you want to play with."

Matsko said Norwell, who started at left guard in his final 34 games at Ohio State, was ready to play when he arrived at Carolina. He just needed refinement -- and a few injuries -- to get the opportunity.

"He's very aggressive, very passionate," Matsko said. "Snap through the whistle, he's all out."

That all-out mentality is what Newton first noticed.

"When you see linemen running down the field, as a quarterback you are looking around saying, 'I have to get on my horse and start running down the field too,'" Newton said. "That makes you want to step your game up a little more."

Carolina defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, a first-round draft pick last season, said the Seattle defensive front will see a lineman that wants to physically come at you.

"A real big, strong guy," Lotulelei said. "You can tell he's a tough guy, mentally and physically. He doesn't talk much, but he goes out and gives it his all.

"Glad to see him in the rotation. He looks good."

The rest of the line apparently is feeding off of Norwell's intensity.

"Absolutely," Kalil said. "He got in the game and his last play was just like first play. High energy, high motor. He was running down field. It is contagious, and it brings competition."

Ultimately, the Panthers don't care if Norwell talks to the media as long as he lets his play do the talking for him.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Debating who is better between Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers really isn’t a debate.

Statistically, Wilson wins almost every category.

Perhaps the debate should be on whether Wilson would have gotten a chance to develop into a Super Bowl winning quarterback had the Panthers drafted him in 2012 instead of Seattle.

Actually, that wouldn’t be much of a debate, either. The Panthers were and are committed to Newton.

Newton
Newton
Wilson
But Carolina did look at the quarterback it will face on Sunday as a potential backup for Newton, the first pick of the 2011 draft. Panthers management believed Wilson’s running ability made him a good candidate to run a similar offense to Newton, should Newton get hurt.

The Panthers just weren’t willing to use a third-round pick on the 5-foot-11 dynamo, as Seattle did. They only were looking at him as a late-round pick if he fell that far.

So Wilson likely would have wasted away on the bench, just as he would have at New Orleans, Green Bay and San Diego, three other teams that showed interest before the draft.

“This league is like that, being in the right place at the right time," said Carolina backup quarterback Derek Anderson. “It’s not necessarily if you have the ability or don’t have the ability. I’ve got buddies that played just a couple of years in this league, but easily could have played 10.

“The situation by him going there worked perfect."

It worked out well for both teams. Newton has been a two-time Pro Bowl selection, leading Carolina to a 12-4 record last season. Wilson is a two-time Pro Bowl pick with a Super Bowl ring.

“I remember the Carolina Panthers talking to me and the GM and the coaching staff and all that in terms of trying to bring me in for the Panthers," Wilson recalled. “Obviously, I wanted to play. I believed that my height didn’t define my skill set.

“It has worked out well for me. Just to be in the NFL is an amazing thing; you don’t take that for granted."

Wilson has a 27-11 record as a starter, including a victory over Denver in the Super Bowl. Newton has a 27-26-1 record and is 0-1 in the playoffs.

Wilson has completed 64 percent of his career passes for 62 touchdowns. Newton is at 59.9 percent for 72 touchdowns in 16 more starts.

Newton’s biggest edge over Wilson is in rushing touchdowns. He has 29 to Wilson’s eight. The Panthers use Newton more on goal-line runs because of his size.

But in terms of rushing average, Wilson is at 5.9 yards per attempt to Newton’s 5.5.

Many will say they are the same player – minus six inches in height – because they both run. But Wilson picks up more of his rush yards off scrambling. Newton has more plays designed for him to run out of the read option.

“Some of the things that he does I don’t necessarily try to do, just because of the size difference he has over me," Wilson said.

Newton says Wilson is fun to watch, but reiterates they’re two different players. Wilson has a lot of admiration for Newton.

That the two never competed for a spot is a plus.

“A lot of times you get picked wherever somebody takes you, and for me, I was prepared to go wherever," Wilson said. “But I just believed that where I was selected I was going to make 31 other teams regret it, and that was my mindset.”
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly says he didn’t get a personal apology from the league, which has admitted it made a mistake when referees ejected the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year from Sunday’s 38-17 loss at Green Bay.

Kuechly
That wasn’t his goal.

“I didn’t get fined," Kuechly said on Thursday, his first public comment on the league admitting a mistake was made. “That was the big news, and that’s what I was hoping for, so that made me happy."

“It put a big smile on my face, and that’s all I could really hope for."

Kuechly swung his arm as he was being restrained from behind by back judge Steve Freeman with 1:39 left in the third quarter.

Kuechly said he wasn’t aware it was Freeman that grabbed him, adding he simply was trying to free himself from the scrum when he made contact with the official. He said there was no malicious intent or attempt to make contact with an official.

Coach Ron Rivera said the league contacted him on Tuesday to say Kuechly shouldn’t have been ejected and that he wouldn’t be fined.

“What it came down to was I didn’t get fined, and I appreciate that," Kuechly said. “I was hoping for one thing and one thing only, and not to get fined. I’m very pleased with that."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams appears on target to return for an Oct. 30 Thursday night game against the New Orleans Saints.

Williams has missed the past three games with an ankle injury and is not expected to play Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

He has been on the practice field this week working on the side with the trainer, but has not participated in drills.

"This is kind of like Jonathan [Stewart] a couple of weeks ago, sitting there saying, 'How close are we, how close are we?'" Rivera said of his other back who returned Sunday against Green Bay after missing three games with a sprained knee.

"We could put him out there and say, 'Well, we were 95 percent close,' and all of a sudden something bad happens and now you're back to 65 percent. DeAngelo is the same way. We're being very smart with this, very calculated."

Nickel cornerback Bene' Benwikere (ankle), linebacker Chase Blackburn (knee), wide receiver Philly Brown (concussion), guard Amini Silatolu (calf), guard Trai Turner (knee), running back Fozzy Whittaker (quad) and right tackle Nate Chandler (thigh) also did not practice.

Rivera said he expects Chandler to play against Seattle. Silatolu appears doubtful, which means rookie Andrew Norwell will start at left guard.

Left tackle Byron Bell practiced for the second straight day after suffering an elbow contusion Sunday and is expected to play.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton doesn't plan to be an "idiot" when it comes to attacking Seattle's Richard Sherman on Sunday.

Newton also doesn't plan to avoid arguably the best cover cornerback in the NFL.

"If the play is called for me to read it to Richard's side, by all means I'm going to do it," Newton said Wednesday. "And I'm going to give each and every receiver an opportunity to make plays.

"I'm not going to force it. I'm not going to be an idiot. I'm going to do a great job of protecting the football and be aggressively patient in taking what the defense gives me."

[+] EnlargeRichard Sherman
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)Richard Sherman will have to work on Sunday, although Cam Newton says he won't force passes Sherman's way.
Although ESPN Stats & Information doesn't track how many times individual corners have been targeted, it does have numbers showing that quarterbacks have successfully thrown to the right side of Seattle's formation -- where Sherman plays -- more this season.

Seattle's opponents already have as many touchdowns (6) throwing to that side as they did in 2014. There has been only one interception to that side, compared to 12 last year.

Completion percentage is up, too -- 69.1 percent in 2014 compared to 55.1 percent last year. Passer ratings to that side have increased from 49.7 percent to 88.9.

The biggest exception was Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who had only 6 passing yards to the right side in a 36-16 loss to Seattle in Week 1.

In Week 2, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers threw to Sherman's side because he believed wide receiver Keenan Allen could win some of those one-on-one battles. Allen had five catches for 55 yards in San Diego's 30-21 victory.

In Week 6, the Dallas Cowboys threw to Dez Bryant on that side in their 30-23 victory, although Sherman moved around more in that game. Bryant was targeted 10 times. He caught four passes for 63 yards.

In all likelihood, Sherman will draw rookie Carolina wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin a lot on Sunday. At 6-foot-3, Sherman will be the biggest defensive back the 6-5, 240-pound Benjamin has matched up against this season.

Benjamin doesn't appear concerned.

"You can tell he loves the game," said Benjamin, whose 34 catches for 477 yards and five touchdowns lead all Carolina wide receivers. "He brings the passion to it. He has fun. He talks a lot of smack out there, but this is football.

"I'm just going to come out there and match his intensity, play fast and be sound in all my assignments."

While the "smack" might bother some receivers, Benjamin welcomes it.

"I might come off a little harder and block him a little harder, but that's on him -- how much he talks," he said.

Talking is a big part of Sherman's game. He said on live TV after last season's NFC Championship Game that he's "the best corner in the game."

Carolina cornerback Josh Norman says you need that kind of confidence to play the position.

"As an analyst looking in, you probably think, 'OK, that guy. He's always talking. He's cocky. He has a big mouth,'" Norman said. "But at the same time, when you're looking at 4.3 [speed] guys in front of your face running down the field, what are you going to do?

"I hope you're going to be cocky. I hope you have some kind of moxie about yourself. If you don't, you're just going to get torched."

But avoiding Sherman isn't part of Carolina's game plan. Newton understands that to beat the Seahawks, you have to attack not only him, but the entire secondary.

"They have a very dominant secondary, physical secondary that does not hesitate to come downhill and play with reckless abandon and do bodily harm to the opposing team," Newton said. "As a fan of the game, you kind of like watching that from your TV.

"But when you're out there playing the game, you've got to make sure your chin strap is tightened up a little tighter and [you] understand executing the game plan is going to be at a premium this week more than any other week."
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The Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers are reeling as they enter Sunday's 1 p.m. ET game at Bank of America Stadium.

The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks have lost two straight games to fall to 3-3, two games behind Arizona in the NFC West. The defending NFC South champion Panthers have gone 1-2-1 over their past four games and fallen to 3-3-1. They still lead the division because the other three teams have defenses that are just as porous as Carolina's.

Seattle and Carolina are meeting for the third straight year in Charlotte, with the Seahawks winning the previous two by scores of 16-12 and 12-7.

ESPN Seahawks reporter Terry Blount and ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton are here to break this one down for you:

Newton: Terry, the folks in Seattle have to be a bit shocked the Seahawks are .500 and two games out in the division. Is there a sense of concern at this point?

Blount: Nobody is jumping off the Space Needle, but you'd better believe the fans are concerned and a bit bewildered. There is time for the Seahawks to recover, but can they? The team hasn't played well at the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball. They can't get much of a pass rush, and the offensive line has been whistled for 14 penalties in the past three games. Injuries to key starters have hurt them: tight end Zach Miller, center Max Unger, cornerback Byron Maxwell and especially middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who was playing the best football of his career until suffering a nasty turf toe injury two weeks ago.

You're probably getting this question a lot, but what in heaven's name is going on with the Carolina defense? The Panthers have gone from No. 2 in the NFL last season in points allowed (15.1) to a team that has given up at least 37 points in four games this season. What has been the biggest factor in the dramatic change?

Newton: Not sure the editors will give me the space to fully explain this one. You can start with the loss of defensive end Greg Hardy, who is on the commissioner's exempt list until his domestic violence case is resolved. It's hard to replace everything he did. But it goes much deeper than that. You can also look to the secondary. There are three new starters: strong safety Roman Harper, free safety Thomas DeCoud and cornerback Antoine Cason. They're making every quarterback look like Peyton Manning the way receivers are running free. The lack of a pass rush has hurt. Teams are hitting Carolina with a lot of quick passes to negate the four-man rush, just as I suspect is happening in Seattle. But, as linebacker Thomas Davis said earlier in the week, the Carolina defense as a whole simply isn't playing smart and swarming to the ball as it did last season.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is playing at high level. Where has he shown the most improvement and how will his threat as a runner affect an undisciplined Carolina defense?

Blount: Dave, it's scary to think where the team would be without Wilson. He single-handedly won the Redskins game on Oct. 6, becoming the first quarterback in "Monday Night Football" history to pass for more than 200 yards and run for more than 100. His brilliant 80-yard drive in overtime defeated Denver last month, a game the defense tried to give away at the end of regulation. He's doing almost everything at a higher level now in his third NFL season, but most importantly, he understands where he needs to go with the football more quickly and when to tuck and run. That has been essential considering Wilson had been under duress more than any other QB. Believe it or not, he rarely looks to run. He has to run to avoid pressure. The key for any defense is trying to cut off the perimeter and keep him in the pocket -- easier said than done.

Rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin looks as if he's everything the Panthers hoped he would be as a first-round pick. But do they miss Steve Smith, and do you think Benjamin can be as good as, or better than, Buffalo rookie receiver Sammy Watkins?

Newton: Benjamin hasn't disappointed. He's 13th in the NFL in receiving yards with 477, and his five touchdowns are one more than Smith has in Baltimore. I'm not sure Benjamin would have developed as quickly if Smith were in Carolina. As I've said before, overall the team is better at wide receiver than it was a year ago.

As for where Benjamin stacks up against Watkins, I'd say they're pretty much the same player except Watkins has more explosive speed. But Benjamin runs routes much better than anyone gave him credit for coming out of college. He's a player even Seattle's talented secondary will have to pay extra attention to. And you do that at the expense of leaving open Greg Olsen, who leads all tight ends with 493 receiving yards.

I found the comments by Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin on the Percy Harvin trade interesting. Has that been a distraction, and how will that affect the Seattle offense?

Blount: Baldwin admitted after the St. Louis loss this past weekend that the shock of the Harvin trade, which happened less than 48 hours earlier, had an impact on the way the Seahawks started the game in getting behind 21-3. However, I firmly believe the impact going forward will be a positive one. Harvin's anger issues -- fights with teammates and taking himself out of two games -- were more than anyone could tolerate any longer.

It also was a problem on the field because Seattle revamped its entire offense to revolve around Harvin. The Seahawks got away from what they do best: run the football to set up open receivers downfield. They looked like last year's offense in the second half against the Rams, scoring on three consecutive drives of 80 yards or longer. Wilson set another NFL record, becoming the first player in league history to pass for more than 300 yards and rush for more than 100 in a game. Baldwin had his best game of the season with seven catches for 123 yards and a score. Trading Harvin was addition by subtraction in so many ways.

I'm shocked to see that Cam Newton is Carolina's leading rusher with 190 yards. What has happened to the Panthers' running game?

Newton: You wouldn't be shocked if you looked at all the injuries, a new line and opponents putting eight in the box to stop the run. Panthers all-time leading rusher DeAngelo Williams has missed the past three games with an ankle injury and has played less than six quarters this season. Jonathan Stewart has missed three starts. Mike Tolbert is on injured reserve. If you've heard the names Darrin Reaves, Fozzy Whittaker and Chris Ogbonnaya, you're either related to them or desperate in a fantasy league.

Then there's the line, which took another blow last week when starting right guard Trai Turner suffered a knee and ankle sprain that will keep him out this week. At one point Sunday, undrafted rookie David Foucault, who should be on the practice squad developing, was playing left tackle. I could go on, but I won't.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The decision to cut veteran defensive back Charles Godfrey on Tuesday left two impressions on the Carolina Panthers' locker room.

No. 1, nobody’s job is safe.

No. 2, Godfrey wasn’t cut out to be a cornerback.

Dockery
But the first impression was the strongest for a Carolina defense that has allowed 37 or more points in four of the last five games and gone from one of the best in the league to one of the worst.

“It’s definitely hard to see him go, but at the same time we know it’s a business," said James Dockery, who will replace Godfrey as the nickel cornerback until rookie Bene’ Benwikere returns from an ankle injury.

“And if we don’t perform, it could be any one of us."

Free safety Thomas DeCoud agreed.

“It’s just a wake-up call," he said. “You know anybody’s number can be called. It’s the nature of the business, what we signed up for. You’ve got to take it with a grain of salt and keep fighting."

If that’s the message players got, coach Ron Rivera isn’t complaining.

“Any time moves are made and different things you do get player’s attention, it’s always a positive," he said. “This business really is about production. It’s tough sometimes, for whatever the reason being. The unintended consequences sometimes can be valuable."

Godfrey played safety from 2008 until his 2013 season ended with an Achilles injury in Week 2 He took a $4 million cut in salary during the offseason and was moved to cornerback.

He was the starting nickel corner the past two weeks with Benwikere sidelined.

He didn’t produce. He had three missed tackles in Sunday’s 38-17 loss at Green Bay and was victimized repeatedly on third down the previous week in a 37-37 tie against Cincinnati.

That’s where the second impression came in for several players.

“He was kind of out of position," cornerback Josh Norman said. “I think we all knew that. But at the same time, it’s one of those things where it’s the nature of the business. It’s the nature of the beast. It sucks when that happens. You’ve got to find a way to bounce back from it, which I know Godfrey will.

“He’s a safety, man. He can play it. He started in this league for how many years? That’s hard to do.”
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – That backup quarterback Derek Anderson has appeared in three of the last five games for the Carolina Panthers normally would be a good sign.

Not this year.

Anderson played in eight games the past three seasons at Carolina. Six of his appearances were in mop-up roles at the end of blowout victories. Two were in mop-up roles at the end of blowout losses.

The Panthers (3-3-1) haven’t had any blowout wins this season.

[+] EnlargeCam Newton
AP Photo/Tom LynnCam Newton doesn't like to come off the field, but he's being protected in blowout games by coach Ron Rivera.
So when Anderson has replaced Cam Newton, as he did Sunday in the fourth quarter of a 38-17 loss at Green Bay, it was for all the wrong reasons as far as the starter is concerned.

“It’s frustrating," Newton said on Wednesday. “It’s not frustrating coming out the game. It’s more frustrating that the product that you put out there didn’t keep your team in the game."

Carolina coach Ron Rivera understands quarterbacks like to finish what they start regardless of the situation. Had this been 2011, when the Panthers made Newton the first pick of the draft, Rivera would have left his franchise quarterback on the field.

“Early on in Cam’s career I would have left him in because he needed the development," Rivera said. “I don’t think he needs the development. But in light of the circumstances, we can’t expose him."

The circumstances are Newton is coming off ankle surgery in March and fractured ribs in August. The circumstances are Carolina has been without its top three running backs much of this season due to injuries and could be without two starters on the offensive line on Sunday against Seattle.

“He understands," Rivera said of Newton. “He gets it. He knows that there’s a certain point in a game like that, that the best thing is to take a step back, evaluate and protect him. I have to do that. It’s a long season.

“With everything that we’ve gone through, the last thing I would like to do is keep a guy in and have him get hurt. Honestly, I don’t really want to do it under those circumstances. I want to do it on the other circumstances when we’re winning."

If Newton comes out of Sunday’s game against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, he hopes it because the Panthers have a big lead. He understands to do that, the offense will have to start faster than it did against Green Bay and several other opponents.

While there’s been a lot of piling on the defense for giving up 21 first-quarter points against the Packers, it should be noted that the offense also wasn’t good.

Carolina gained only 5 yards in the first quarter, going three-and-out on its first two drives and picking up its only first down in the quarter on a penalty.

The Panthers finished the first half with just 113 yards and three points. Newton had a passer rating of 66.1, while Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a rating of 153.4.

“My main focus on everything that is going into this week is starting fast and executing the whole game," Newton said.

If he doesn’t, Anderson will have had as many relief appearances by the halfway point of this season as he had all of last season.

“Sunday vs. Green Bay was unacceptable," Newton said. “And it’s my job to make sure that ship is driving straight."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy still hasn’t made an appearance at Bank of America Stadium since going on the commissioner’s exempt list in mid-September, but not because he’s not welcome.

“We haven’t asked him to stay away," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday. “At the same time, we’re letting him take care of his business."

Hardy
Hardy
Rivera has maintained optimism that the team’s 2013 sack leader will be reinstated once his domestic violence case is heard. The case remains scheduled for Nov. 17, the week Carolina is on a bye.

Hardy’s attorney, Chris Fialko, said Wednesday he continues to get ready for the Nov. 17 date.

Fialko said on July 15, when he announced Hardy would appeal the guilty verdict of a Mecklenburg County judge, that there are several older cases that could push Hardy’s case into 2015.

If Hardy’s case is heard on schedule and he is found innocent, he would be eligible to return for the final five games.

“I believe, from what I’ve been told, he’s been working out and doing the things he needs to do," Rivera said. “Hopefully, when things are all worked out and everything comes to a conclusion, everybody can go forward."

Asked if he had any idea when Hardy might make an appearance, Rivera said, “At the appropriate time."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- James Dockery, among the final cuts by the Carolina Panthers in August, will get the start at nickel cornerback in Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Dockery
Dockery will replace veteran Charles Godfrey, who was cut on Tuesday. Godfrey was starting for rookie Bené Benwikere, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury and did not practice on Wednesday.

The Panthers also practiced free safety Colin Jones, cornerback Antoine Cason and wide receiver De'Andre Presley at the position Benwikere will take over when he returns.

But for now the position belongs to Dockery, who was re-signed on Oct. 7.

"Right now, we're pretty comfortable with it," Rivera said of the position that opponents have victimized the past few weeks. "James Dockery played some nickel in the Green Bay game and we'll give him the start."

Undrafted rookie free agent Andrew Norwell could get his first career start at left guard with starter Amini Silatolu still nursing a sore calf injury. Fernando Velasco will shift to right guard for rookie Trai Turner, who will miss Sunday's game with a sprained knee and ankle suffered in the first quarter of the 38-17 loss at Green Bay.

Quarterback Cam Newton referred to Norwell as "All Yell" because the former Ohio State player shouts loudly ever time the team breaks huddle.

"I've noticed a lot of things he does loudly," Rivera said of Norwell. "He has a lot of enthusiasm. That's great. He's got a great attitude about working hard, a great attitude about getting an opportunity to play, and I think that is going to spread to his teammates."

Left tackle Byron Bell practiced after leaving Sunday's game with a left elbow contusion. Rivera is optimistic Bell will be ready for Seattle, but reserved judged until he saw how the elbow responded to a hard practice.

Running back DeAngelo Williams (ankle), linebacker Chase Blackburn, cornerback Philly Brown (concussion) joined Turner, Amini and Benwikere working with the trainers.

Rivera said it's too early to tell if Williams , who has missed the last three games, will have a shot to play this week.

"He did a lot of work, pushing sleds and running," Rivera said. "That was very encouraging. The next step is to see how he feels tomorrow."

Wide receiver Brenton Bersin took over Brown's duties as a kick returner. Rivera said wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and third-string quarterback Joe Webb also got some looks in the return game.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Carolina Panthers really did defensive back Charles Godfrey a favor by letting him stay on the roster as long as they did.

Were the seven-year veteran not considered a positive influence in the locker room and just an all-around good guy, he might have been gone at the end of training camp.

Godfrey
But ultimately, Godfrey was judged on performance.

And his performance didn’t cut it.

That rookie Bene' Benwikere was made the starting nickel cornerback after the first game should have been a hint. The Panthers moved Godfrey from safety to corner during the offseason, believing his coverage and run-stopping skills would be a plus.

It turned into a negative, and that never was more evident than two weeks ago against Cincinnati, as it was painfully obvious Godfrey couldn’t keep up with the slot receivers.

Five times on pass plays of third-and-6 or longer, the Bengals picked up a first down on Godfrey, who started at nickel because Benwikere suffered an ankle injury the week before.

In Sunday’s 38-17 loss at Green Bay, Godfrey had a three of a team season-high 11 missed tackles.

Godfrey helped the Panthers by taking a $4 million pay cut during the offseason to avoid being cut -- his cap number was $7.1 million. But ultimately, he couldn’t help them on the field.

The Panthers need more speed at not only the nickel position, but the secondary overall. It has been a shell of the unit from a year ago. Benwikere, who is doubtful for Sunday’s game against Seattle, will provide that speed when he returns.

That the Panthers were willing to cut Godfrey and take a chance on James Dockery, who recently was re-signed after being cut at the end of training camp, pretty much said it all.

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