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Pitt notebook: Panthers get varied returns from injured players

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 9:42 p.m.
Pitt's Ben DiNucci runs for a 31-yard gain at the end of the second quarter against North Carolina on Nov. 9, 2017.
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Pitt's Ben DiNucci runs for a 31-yard gain at the end of the second quarter against North Carolina on Nov. 9, 2017.

There was hope that Pitt's defense would get help from the return of cornerback Avonte Maddox, defensive tackle Keyshon Camp and defensive end Dewayne Hendrix.

All three missed the Virginia game Oct. 28 with injuries.

Camp and Hendrix returned Thursday, even though they didn't start during Pitt's game against North Carolina at Heinz Field. Maddox did not play in the first half.

Camp entered before the end of the first quarter and played much of the first half that ended with Pitt trailing 24-17. Redshirt freshman Rashad Wheeler also was part of the rotation at defensive tackle.

Coach Pat Narduzzi's decision to give Maddox's right arm injury more time to heal was based on his trust in backup cornerbacks Phillipie Motley and Jason Pinnock.

The third guy

North Carolina has used three quarterbacks this season, but coach Larry Fedora's choice to start the game was sophomore Nathan Elliott, the least utilized of the group.

Elliott completed four passes on North Carolina's first touchdown drive, one-fourth of his season total before the game.

Steelers/NFL presence

Among those in attendance Thursday was Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster, who mugged for the scoreboard camera with students in the Panther Pitt.

There was a further — and more significant — pro presence in the form of 19 NFL scouts from 14 teams, including former Steelers director of football operations Tom Donahoe (now with the Philadelphia Eagles) and Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.

General manager Kevin Colbert represented the Steelers.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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