CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was back at practice Tuesday and could still play Friday against New England, despite his recent absence.
Peppers missed last week's game at Philadelphia with what was described as "a fever" and had also missed some time earlier in camp with a stomach ailment. But he was back on the practice field Tuesday, apparently feeling better.
"Yeah, I told you guys he was hour-to-hour," coach John Fox said. "He felt a lot better. He was just sick.
"He's been working out. He's been sick a little bit, but hopefully the next few days we'll evaluate that and see what we do with him Friday night."
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It's no surprise that Fox would hedge on his status for the dress rehearsal game of the preseason, since he loves working the fringes of what he's obligated to reveal. But holding players out in the preseason is nothing new. San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson said he won't play at all during the preseason, and others are wondering about the merit of such a move.
Fox said he did think some game time was necessary, but he's willing to view it on a case-by-case basis.
"At the end of the day, you're trying to do what's best to get them ready for the season," Fox said. "Sometimes that might be not letting him play, sometimes it might be letting them play sparingly, in particular guys that have kind of proven what they're about in this league.
"I think a guy's got to get used to carrying his pads, but not necessarily does that have to be in games. I wouldn't be opposed to holding guys out; I've done it with Dan Morgan, we've had minimal reps for other guys on this team. And Julius would be a guy that's earned that right."
• BACK HOME: If you like Panthers who hustle, your favorite guy has to be equipment manager Jackie Miles.
While Miles had more than a week to get all the team's gear to Wofford College for training camp, he had to get everything back overnight Monday after camp broke so the Panthers could get back to their usual routine.
A few trucks of less-essential gear went back over the weekend, but for the most part, Miles had to coordinate everything in less than 24 hours.
Miles is familiar with it. He was the equipment man for the USFL's Philadelphia Stars when the city threw them out of Veterans Stadium, giving him 18 hours to get all their stuff loaded for the trip to Baltimore.
• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers are closer to having everyone on the practice field. Linebacker Na'il Diggs (hamstring) was the only one held out, as backup linebacker/special teamer Brandon Jamison returned. ... Even though they're home, the Panthers didn't get much of a break on the weather, as the temperatures were already in the high-90s by the time practice broke around 1 p.m.