SPARTANBURG -- The Carolina Panthers enjoyed many happy returns Tuesday, as they inched closer to having a full squad available for practice.
Projected starting safety Nate Salley headlined a list of four players who returned to the first practice after missing significant chunks of camp with various injuries.
Salley hasn't yet reclaimed his expected starting job next to Chris Harris -- Harris wasn't there Aug. 1 when Salley landed awkwardly on his right knee -- but that shouldn't take too long.
The Panthers like his athleticism, and Fox said last week he thinks Salley and Harris can play together even though they've taken nearly all their work this camp at strong safety.
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Also back on the practice field were wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett (hamstring) and running backs DeAngelo Williams (ankle) and Alex Haynes (hamstring). All missed last weekend's preseason opener, but it's too soon to know if they'll play Friday in Philadelphia.
• VOICES IN HIS HEAD: It wasn't exactly "Mr. Watson, come here, I need you," but the Panthers took a huge step in communication technology last weekend.
Quarterback Jake Delhomme said he enjoyed the new radio receiver in his helmet, the innovation which debuted last weekend in New York. He laughed and said he was confused about the green dot sticker on the back of his helmet (so the officials know who's wearing it), but otherwise the earpiece didn't change his operation much.
In the past, passing game coordinator Mike McCoy would signal in a personnel grouping and a play number, and Delhomme would refer to the list of plays on his armband for the corresponding call. Now, McCoy speaks into a headset, and he's right there inside his quarterback's head.
"It's a great deal. If you get dinged, maybe get a little dizzy, and they send in a play, you might get them to repeat it," Delhomme said. "Even if our system goes down, we can signal in a number, and I have it there. I look at Mike. If it goes down, I can read his lips, or he can just holler out a number, say number 135, and the defense has no idea what it is. But everything was normal, the same."
• WELCOME TO THE LEAGUE: Rookie center Ryan Kalil walked in the door a fairly polished prospect, but he said he's still adjusting to the speed of what's happening.
Kalil worked with the first team this week as the Panthers' plan for life without right guard Jeremy Bridges, who'll miss the first two games because of a team suspension. The recent lineup has starting center Justin Hartwig sliding to Bridges' spot.
"It's definitely a different speed from what I'm used to and a lot of stuff has been kind of thrown my way," Kalil said. "I'm doing the best of my ability to soak it all in and learn as much as I can and learn all of the calls. There are a couple things that are a little rough for me and a couple of things I'm doing well. I just have to keep working and getting better mentally and physically."
• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers were down to four absent players, a list led by backup cornerback Curtis Deloatch (hamstring). Wide receiver Justin McCullum (hamstring) and defensive tackle Chad Lavalais (foot) were also held out. Former York Comprehensive High School standout Josh Davis was held out of practice with an illness, but he's not expected to be out long.