Safety Eric Reid will start at safety against the New York Giants on Sunday, head coach Ron Riviera said on Friday.
Reid was out for football for nine months after being the subject of controversy when he knelt in protest alongside his teammate and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“We’re going to keep an eye on him,” Rivera said. “We’ll see how he does the first couple series, try and gauge that, and go from there. We really don’t want to overuse him. We want to be smart about it. We want this for the long haul, for hopefully all of the games that we play this year.”
Reid, who signed a one-year deal with Carolina last week, practiced with the first-team defense throughout this week and seemed to pick things up quickly. However, conditioning could be an issue since he hasn’t played since last season.
Colin Jones and rookie Rashaan Gaulden could rotate in at Reid’s spot, but the Panthers had a need at the position after Da’Norris Searcy was placed on Injured Reserve.
The 26-year-old Reid was selected in the first round (No. 18 overall) by the 49ers in the 2013 draft out of LSU and started all five seasons he was with the team, making the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
The 6-1, 215-pounder has 318 tackles, 34 passes defensed and 10 interceptions in his career.