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Roundup: McCaffrey back at Panthers practice

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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For the first time since rookie minicamp, Christian McCaffrey participated in Panthers practice on Thursday.

Carolina's first-round pick had been restricted by an arcane rule from participating in organized team activities and the first two days of minicamp until his school year at Stanford, which operates on the quarter system, had ended. One day after the conclusion of classes Wednesday, McCaffrey made his debut in Charlotte and sounded relieved to finally get back on the field,

"It sucks whenever your team is competing and you're not," McCaffrey told reporters, per the team's website. "But you've got to follow the system, and I'm glad to be here now."

According to the Panthers' site, McCaffrey was thrown right into the fire, working out on kick coverage, participating as the fifth option in running back drills and even running plays out of the wildcat. The eighth overall pick said he was comfortable playing all over the field.

"The more ways you can be dynamic the better -- for the coaches, for me and for the team," McCaffrey added. "Whatever they ask me to do I'll do. I hope I'm used in a lot of ways, but that's not up to me."

McCaffrey is expected to make an immediate impact in a variety of roles: third-down back, slot pass-catcher, return man, end-around decoy. Carolina's confidence in his ability to excel in each of those capacities was evident in how they used him Thursday in his first day back from his undesired hiatus.

It's a crying shame that Ron Rivera and Mike Shula only saw one day of their new weapon in cleats and shorts, but if the reports from Thursday are any indication, McCaffrey didn't miss a beat and should be ready to thrive come training camp.

Here are some other juicy nuggets from the final day of minicamps on Thursday:

1. Travis Kelce is right on time. The Chiefs tight end, who has sat out offseason practices because of shoulder surgery, is still on pace to return for training camp in late July, according to coach Andy Reid.

2. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer expects running back Latavius Murray to be good to go by the start of training camp. Murray underwent ankle surgery in March and has spent the offseason rehabbing.

3. One of the up-and-comers of Denver's defensive line experienced a minor setback this week. Adam Gotsis, a second-year end, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the team confirmed Thursday. Broncos coach Vance Joseph downplayed the surgery, calling it a "small clean-up job", and expects Gotsis to be ready for the start of training camp.

4. Titans coach Mike Mularkey is optimistic about linebacker Kevin Dodd's availability for training camp. Dodd, who is struggling with a lingering foot injury, is "running full-speed", per Mularkey, and it is "highly likely" that he'll be ready for training camp.

Mularkey added that Marcus Mariota (leg) "has a plan" and will conduct his rehab away from Titans headquarters during the dead period. The same does not go from Tajae Sharpe (foot), Karl Klug (Achilles) and Sylvester Williams (ankle), who will all rehab in Nashville until further notice.

5. Ali Marpet's experiment at center has been a success thus far. Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter expects the move to last: "I know I said at one point that it was an experiment. I mean, it's an experiment that we fully expect to work or we wouldn't be messing around with it." Marpet spent the previous two seasons at right guard.

6. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Thursday he is unsure whether tight end Maxx Williams (knee) will be ready for the start of training camp. Baltimore is already down one tight end after losing Dennis Pitta to another hip injury and then releasing him. Williams will compete with Benjamin Watson, Nick Boyle, Darren Waller and Crockett Gillmore for starting TE snaps.

7. DeShawn Shead will likely not be ready for the start of the season. Pete Carroll said Thursday that Seattle will not "be pushing" Shead to return earlier than he has to, but added that he is "making great progress" and is "an all-time great healer." The Seahawks re-signed the cornerback this offseason knowing his injured knee would hold him back this offseason. Shead joined Seattle as a practice-squad undrafted free agent in 2012 and eventually rose to starting corner before his injury. Shead started 15 of 15 games played last season.

8. The Rams will go into the dead of summer with just two quarterbacks on their roster. Los Angeles waived Dylan Thompson, a third-year player out of South Carolina, on Thursday. Jared Goff and Sean Mannion are the only remaining QBs in house.

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