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Panthers coach dealing with painful cornea issue

By Steve Reed

AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE — Panthers first-year head coach Matt Rhule said there is a reason why he’s been looking like “Darth Vader” recently at practice.

Rhule revealed Thursday that he’s been dealing with a painful cornea issue for weeks, which has left his eye sensitive to light. That has prompted him to wear a black bucket hat and dark sunglasses to go along with his black mask due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ll be fine,” Rhule said. “But it’s just really, really painful and really hard to see. It’s light sensitive at times. I was raised under coach (Tom) Coughlin with no sunglasses. You can’t even find a hat on my head in the last 20 years of coaching. Now, I look like a Storm Trooper or Darth Vader, or whatever.”

Rhule has had plenty of issues to deal with this year, including making the transition from Baylor to the NFL and trying to get a young, rebuilding team ready for the season in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.

The Panthers are the only team in the league with a new coach, two new coordinators and a new quarterback.

Rhule said he can still see, and expects the cornea will be almost completely healed in time for Carolina’s Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Raiders.

“We all have to deal with things, so it is has been good for me just to remind myself to practice what I preach,” Rhule said.

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