The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos each conducted their first formal practice of Super Bowl on Wednesday, which begins the final countdown to kickoff. During Super Bowl week, given the volume of media on hand, the NFL appoints a pool reporter for each team. They write up a practice report each day that is then presented to the rest of the media.
USA Today NFL writer Jarrett Bell is serving as the NFC beat writer. Here is what he observed at the Panthers Wednesday practice
SAN JOSE - Aiming to keep the regimen as normal as it would be for a typical week, the Carolina Panthers underwent a 1-hour, 15-minute, non-contact practice Wednesday on the grass fields adjacent to Spartan Stadium at San Jose State University as they continued preparations for Super Bowl 50.
As expected, linebacker Thomas Davis, healing a fractured right forearm, was a full participant. Defensive end Jared Allen, who missed the NFC title game due to a bone in his right foot, was a limited participant. No other players were limited or held out.
"Jared's was really about rest," said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. "He's been going full-blast since we started, and the doctors wanted to just make sure. So he earned the rest."
Davis is due for another exam on Friday, but his practice load clearly indicated that the 11th-year veteran is on track to play against the Denver Broncos on Sunday - less than two weeks since undergoing surgery to insert screws and a metal plate in his forearm.
"When the doctors say he's 100 percent, I'll go with it," Rivera said.
Rivera considered moving around some meeting times and practice periods this week, but the idea was quickly rejected by players.
"The biggest thing, when I talked to the captains about it was, ‘Oh, no, Coach,' "Rivera said.
With the game plan installed last week, which ended on Friday with the last fully-padded, contact practice of the season, Rivera said Wednesday's session was about fine-tuning details as the team ran plays at roughly half speed and used piped-in crowd noise when the first-team offense worked against the scout team.
Although he was pleased with the work and raved about the new grass practice field that was installed for the Panthers, Rivera didn't see perfection - which was good in another sense.
"The nice thing is that I saw a couple of mistakes that we should not have made," Rivera said. "Now we have a chance to clear those up."
Cam Newton threw well, with pinpoint accuracy. Not a single pass hit the ground during the team drills.
"That's our quarterback," Rivera said. "The interesting thing is that he builds onto it as the week progresses. He was sharp today, but wait until you see him Thursday and Friday."
The Panthers ended practice by continuing another tradition. They huddled in the center of the field around four team members who shared birthdays on Tuesday - defensive tackle Kawann Short, cornerback Cortland Finnegan, running back Fozzy Whitaker and O-line coach John Matsko.
"That's one of the things we do, when we find out it's somebody's birthday," Rivera said.