Carolina Panthers

Second-rounder Funchess returns to Panthers rookie practice; top pick Thompson out again

The Carolina Panthers had one of their top two picks back Saturday after deciding to exercise caution with the other one.

Wide receiver Devin Funchess, the second-round pick from Michigan, returned a day after cramping in the Carolina heat. First-rounder Shaq Thompson remained sidelined with a hamstring injury as the Panthers wrapped up their two-day, rookie minicamp.

Thompson, an outside linebacker from Washington, went through the walkthrough portion of practice but did not participate in any drills.

It was a missed opportunity for a player who will be in class at Washington while the Panthers go through organized team activities, which begin May 26.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the team did not want to risk further injury with Thompson, the 25th overall pick who will compete with A.J. Klein for the starting spot at weakside linebacker.

“We didn’t want to aggravate the hamstring more than it needed to,” Rivera said.

Funchess, 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds, lost 6 to 7 pounds Friday and received IV fluids following the second of two practices. He was full strength Saturday and impressed Rivera with his work ethic and willingness to learn all the receiver positions.

“He’s done a nice job and paid attention to what’s going on,” Rivera said, adding Funchess would have to adjust to the heat after growing up in Michigan and going to college there.

Young play-maker: The sight of cornerback Lou Young making plays this weekend shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone who saw him matched up against the Panthers’ receivers last season.

Young, who joined the practice squad in November, caught the eye of receivers coach Ricky Proehl with his work against the starting wideouts.

“(Proehl) said he was the one guy that gave everybody a hard time,” Rivera said.

After intercepting two passes during 1-on-1s Friday, Young picked off another one Saturday during team drills. Young, one of four qualifying veterans who participated in the minicamp, was pleased with his performance.

“You play the game to make plays. It was good to come out here and get this work in,” he said. “Last year I was on the practice squad late in the year, so getting the defense down and just finding my way through it.”

Young, undrafted out of Georgia Tech last year, also spent time on the practice squads of Baltimore and Jacksonville as a rookie. Young, 6-1 and 195 pounds, knows he has to keep making plays to make the team.

“I try to get my hands on the ball as much as possible to make plays and use my strengths,” he said. “My feet, my hands and my eyes, those are probably my biggest strengths.”

Tryout players rewarded: The Panthers are expected to sign five of the 35 tryout players who participated in the rookie camp, according to league sources.

The list includes defensive end Rakim Cox, offensive linemen Ronald Patrick and Jordan McCray, former Stanford fullback Lee Ward and ex-Coastal Carolina tight end Jamie Childers.

Childers, 26, who went to the same FCS school as Panthers corner Josh Norman, started three games as a quarterback – including a game at Clemson – before switching positions.

Childers, 6-4 and 250 pounds, has been with three teams since entering the league as an undrafted free agent with St. Louis in 2012. He has never appeared in a regular-season game.

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