The Panthers returned to camp Saturday morning, and coach John Fox had a little present waiting for him.
RB Jonathan Stewart (Achilles) passed his physical and practiced on a limited basis, but that was enough for Fox.
"I saw him carrying his helmet, and I got a little excited," Fox cracked.
He's not the only one. Even if it's one a day, having Stewart back helps keep some reps off the guys who have been here the whole time, and obviously is a good sign that he should be ready by the start of the regular season.
A few other highlights from the first day back after the preseason opener:
-- They went in shorts and shells, a light practice that Fox will generally give them after a game.
-- Star of the morning? Dwayne Jarrett. No, really.
Jarrett made at least six big-time catches. We've beaten the problems to death, but the guy has fly-paper hands.
Also, he and Kenny Moore were back with the ones, after they let Brandon LaFell and Wallace Wright start Thursday's game.
-- Stewart wasn't the only guy back, as WR Charly Martin (broken left middle finger) and T Garry Williams (shoulder) returned.
Martin had a giant club-like cast over his left hand, covering the fingers, which obviously kept him from catching.
And in perhaps a true indication of the state of the team, Fox referred to Williams as "a veteran guy." He made the team as an undrafted rookie last year.
-- DE Tyler Brayton (ankle) was out, along with LBs Jamar Williams (shoulder) and Quinton Culberson (thigh bruise) and C Steve Justice (back), and a collection of five guys from last week including CB Chris Gamble (knee).
With Brayton out, Charles Johnson shifted to left defensive end and Everette Brown moved in at the right.
The injuries also cut them down to six linebackers from practice as they had their starters and backups Eric Norwood, Sean Ware and Mortty Ivy.
-- You wonder when to get concerned, but there were another couple of bobbled snaps for QB Jimmy Clausen. Probably not time to panic, but it's clearly something they're noticing.
—- Darin Gantt